Avast Academy Security Security Tips What Is a Remote Desktop?

What Is a Remote Desktop?

A remote desktop is an internet-enabled program or operating system feature that lets someone access a computer from a different location, just as if they were interacting with the device locally. Remote desktop connections are useful collaborative tools and helpful for IT departments, but they can present risks if not protected by security tools such as Avast One.

Editors' choice
Top Rated
Written by Oliver Buxton
Updated on October 11, 2023

How do remote desktops work?

Remote desktop applications allow remote control of a computer by mirroring the desktop environment of one device onto another. Remote desktop applications use systems like Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to transmit mouse inputs and keystrokes from a host computer to a client machine. Many remote desktop connections also let users share files between connected devices.

Hamburguer menu icon

This Article Contains :

    Remote desktop connections let you access a computer's system and files from a different location.Remote desktop connections can help businesses manage admin privileges on the computers of their remote employees.

    How to set up a remote desktop

    Go to Start > Settings > System > Remote Desktop > and turn on the Enable Remote Desktop button.

    You need to be using Windows 10 or Windows 11 Pro to set up a remote desktop on your PC. To check what version of Windows you have, go to Start > Settings > System > About. Next to Edition, you’ll see which version of Windows you have installed. Learn how to upgrade to Windows Pro here.

    Why do people use remote desktops?

    Here are some of the most common reasons employees, businesses, IT departments, and others use remote computer access tools:

    • Connecting to a work computer from home or while traveling.

    • Diagnosing and fixing problems on a computer from a remote location.

    • Sharing files between two computers.

    • Printing documents from a host computer.

    • Demonstrating a process or software application.

    • Accessing a virtual machine hosted on a remote computer.

    Benefits of a remote desktop

    One of the main benefits of remote desktop access is convenience — IT departments and tech-support professionals can troubleshoot and fix computer problems from anywhere, without needing the faulty computer physically in front of them.

    And there are many business and security benefits, too. Employers and organizations use remote desktop technology to manage administrator privileges, ensure the security of their digital systems, and enable remote working environments while controlling which applications and programs their people use.

    Risks of a remote desktop

    While remote desktop setups increase collaborative and IT convenience, and enable more flexible working environments, they also invite risks. Vulnerabilities in remote desktop connections can be exploited, resulting in corporate infrastructure held hostage. Major ransomware attacks have been initiated by hackers accessing critical systems through vulnerabilities in remote desktop connections.

    Remote desktop software

    A range of remote access software is available across nearly all operating systems and platforms — including Android and iOS mobile devices. Microsoft and Apple both have a remote desktop product, and other third-party remote desktop apps include TeamViewer, ConnectWise Control, GoToMyPC, and CrossLoop.

    Remote desktop connection manager

    Remote desktop connection managers are software applications for managing multiple remote desktop connections. As well as acting as a single remote desktop gateway, remote desktop connection managers provide remote access security, allowing system administrators to more easily and securely manage multiple servers, virtual machines, and networked computers from a single interface.

    Protect yourself with Avast

    The benefits of remote desktop access are obvious. But there are also risks as scammers and hackers increasingly try to exploit their connections to gain access to files, infect systems with malware, and spy on user behavior.

    Whenever you’re online, and especially when you’re connecting to remote devices, make sure to use strong security software like Avast One. Avast One combines award-winning anti-malware and network security features with an advanced firewall to keep intruders out. Get ironclad protection against today’s wide array of online threats — completely free.

    Get Avast One for iPhone to help block hackers and malware

    Free install

    Get Avast One for Android to help block hackers and malware

    Free install
    Security Tips
    Oliver Buxton