RDP VS VPN: Which Is Better?

Do you know RDP vs VPN, which one is better? Here we will introduce RDP and VPN respectively and help you fully understand the difference between the two.


By Ellie / Updated on November 21, 2022

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For many people, RDP and VPN are basically the same. But in fact, they are essentially two completely different tools. Then RDP vs VPN, do you know what’s the difference? To explain the difference between VPN and Remote Desktop, we need to understand what is RDP and what is VPN respectively.  


What is VPN?

Virtual Private Network (VPN) mainly creates a secure Internet connection between users and the network through advanced encryption and tunneling technology. It is called virtual network because the connection between any two nodes of VPN is based on the network platform provided by public network service providers. In short, it is to create a small private network on the WAN. It is worth mentioning that VPN can also realize remote access, but can only access the resources shared on the same network.

The working principle of VPN is well understood. To put it simply, your traffic data is transmitted to the VPN server of an Internet provider through a secure channel. Through this server, your encrypted data, hidden geographical location and IP address are sent to the network station you want to browse, so that you can achieve real secure network access, just like wearing an “invisibility cloak”.

What are the advantages of VPN?

Let's take a look at the advantages of VPN:

High safety. The advanced encryption and identification protocol used by VPN helps to protect your sensitive data. It allows you to access all data anonymously and protect you from malicious prying, further preventing these unauthorized users from contacting relevant sensitive data.
Time- and cost-saving. VPN is easy to set up and allows new users to join the network easily and quickly, which virtually saves time and cost for individuals; For enterprises, secure connections with partners can be achieved without additional infrastructure.
Full control. VPN users can not only enjoy the facilities and services provided by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but also have full control of their own network.
Access to restricted content. Whether you want to access the network of your own country when traveling abroad or cross-border access the networks of blocked national and regional, you can use VPN. It can change your IP address, make you look like you are really in the country where your IP address belongs.

What are the disadvantages of VPN?

Let's take a look at the disadvantages of VPN:

Reduce the network connection speed. In order to ensure the security of network connection, VPN usually has advanced encryption technology, which may be realized at the expense of connection speed.
Lack of sufficient stability. In most cases, the VPN connection is stable enough, but sometimes there is a disconnection. When the encrypted connection is suddenly interrupted, it will not only affect your user experience, but also expose the real IP address of the computer, thus forming a security risk.
Blocking issue. In some countries or regions, it is forbidden to use VPN. Even some mainstream media service websites (such as Netflix) will enable blocking programs to resist VPN connections.
High bandwidth requirements. In the process of remote access, VPN will not compress or optimize the data. Long-term use will lead to file accumulation, which will affect the overall performance and slow down the speed of the computer.
Limited remote access resources. Remote access can also be realized through VPN, but it can only access specific shared resources on the computer.

What is RDP?

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a Microsoft-developed secure network communication protocol that allows you to remotely access a computer and open files or apps as if you were sitting in front of it.

RDP Introduction

The working principle of RDP is to connect the client and server through TCP/IP protocol and standard LAN architecture, then transmit the input contents of the client terminal, mouse, and keyboard to the server, and then transmit the display of the server back to the client.

What are the advantages of RDP?

Let's take a look at the advantages of RDP:

Strong compatibility. RDP compatible clients can run on Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, and other systems, and the Linux system even lists the RDP client function as one of the core functions.
Friendly to low broadband networks. RDP has a high tolerance for broadband networks. Even in 56k8 dial-up networks, it can provide 5 to 6 pictures per second.
Cost- and time-saving. RDP is completely free as a built-in tool for Windows. You don’t need to spend any extra cost or time downloading it.

What are the disadvantage of RDP?

Let's take a look at the disadvantages of RDP:

The troublesome setup process of cross-network connection. If you use RDP on a LAN, its setup is very easy. However, if you use RDP in the WAN, you need to set up port forwarding, which is not user-friendly for some novices.
It cannot automatically reconnect after the remote computer is restarted. If the remote computer restarts, RDP cannot reconnect automatically.
Low safety. The strength of RDP user login credentials is not enough, which often becomes a weak point of network attacks. In addition, the default 3389 port of RDP is not secure and is vulnerable to network attacks.
Multiple concurrent sessions cannot be processed at the same time. RDP cannot handle multiple connections with different network settings at the same time, which will affect the working efficiency.
Restricted Windows versions. It’s not applicable to all Windows versions. Windows 7 Starter/Home Edition, Windows 8/8.1 Home Edition, and Windows 10 Home Edition do not support RDP.

How to use RDP

Step 1. On the host computer, right-click This PC on the desktop and select Properties.


Step 2. Then click Remote Desktop in the left sidebar, and switch the Enable Remote Desktop option to On.


Step 3. Find User accounts and click Select users that can remotely access this PC.

Find User Account

Step 4. After opening the Remote Desktop Users window, click Add to add users who are allowed to access this computer (you need to add already existing users to realize remote desktop).

Add Allowed Access Users

Step 5. On the client computer, search for Remote Desktop Connection in the Search box and then open it.

Remote Desktop Connection

Step 6. Enter the IP address and user name in the Remote Desktop Connection interface to achieve connection (Just in case you don’t know how to find your computer’s IP address and user name).

General Tab

Step 7. In the pop-up Windows Security window, find the user name you just entered and enter the power-on password. If there is no power-on password, click OK.

Windows Security

Step 8. In the authentication pop-up window, click Yes directly to realize remote access (it is recommended to check Don’t ask me again for connection to this computer).

Click on Authentication

What are the differences between RDP and VPN?

The biggest similarity between RDP and VPN is that both of them allow you to remotely access servers or other devices anytime, anywhere. So what are the differences between RDP and VPN? Next, let’s introduce the differences from different aspects.

  • Different remote contents were accessed. Using VPN, you can only remotely access the shared resources on the network, including shared folders and printers. Using RDP, you can fully control a remote computer. You can access all the local resources of the computer, just as you are sitting in front of it. Overall, RDP is better in flexibility.
  • Different levels of security. When you need remote access to other devices, the most important consideration is security. In fact, in terms of security, the RDP encryption level is not only lower than VPN but also has serious security vulnerabilities. Overall, RDP vs VPN in security VPN is better.
  • Different availability. RDP is mostly used for desktop and notebook computers. And a stable network speed is needed to get a better connection. VPN can be used for any device. Many of them can be used as browser extensions, which makes them have less impact on your internet connection speed. Overall, VPN vs Remote Desktop in speed and availability, VPN is better.
  • Different cost-effectiveness. The Windows built-in RDP is completely free. However, most VPN needs to be paid for. Overall, RDP is better in cost-effectiveness.

In fact, although RDP and VPN have some similarities in functions, they do not conflict. That is, you can turn on VPN while using RDP to achieve more secure and free remote access.

If VPN can’t meet your demands and RDP is too complicated for you, you might as well consider the completely free third-party remote control software AnyViewer.

Best remote access choice: AnyViewer

As a completely free third-party remote control software, AnyViewer is simple in operation. It is applicable to multiple versions of Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7 and Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012 R2.

Compared with VPN, the Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) encryption protection used by AnyViewer has high-level security as well. AnyViewer can also achieve complete control that the former cannot achieve.

Compared with RDP, AnyViewer does not need an IP address and user name when connecting. It can also provide a stable connection even in different network environments.

Next, we will introduce how to use AnyViewer.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7
Secure Download

Part 1. For unattended remote access with one-click

Step 1. Download, install and launch AnyViewer on both computers. Go to Log in, and then click Sign up. (If you already have signed up on its official website, you can log in directly.)

Log in AnyViewer

Step 2. Fill in the signup information.

Sign Up for AnyViewer

Step 3. Then you can see you successfully logged in to AnyViewer. Your device will automatically be assigned to the account you've logged in.

Free Editions

Step 4. Logged in to the same AnyViewer account on the two devices, then you can achieve unattended remote access by clicking One-click control.

Connect to My Devices

Part 2. Two more connection methods of AnyViewer

If you don't want to log in to the same account on the two devices, then you have two more connection methods.

Method 1. Send a control request

Step 1. Download, install, and open AnyViewer on both computers. Then you can see your device ID. Input the device ID of the other computer, then click Connect.


Step 2. There will be a pop-up window, click Send a control request to your partner.

Send a Control Request to Your Partner

Step 3. Then the host computer will receive a pop-up request. Click Allow to make the connection successful.

Request to Control Your Device

Method 2. Input security code

There are two types of security codes:

  • A permanent security code is set by you in advance.
  • A temporary security code is automatically generated and will change every time.

Step 1. On the host computer, go to Settings > Recipient. Tick the third option and then set the security code.  

Accept Remote Control

Step 2. On the client computer, input the device ID of the host computer and then click Connect. Then choose Input security code, enter the code and click OK.

Security Code


RDP vs VPN, which one is better? In this post, we’ve compared the difference between RDP and VPN. Compared with RDP, the biggest advantage of VPN is its high level of security. Compared with VPN, the biggest advantage of RDP lies in complete control of the computer.  

If you feel that VPN can’t meet your demands and RDP is too complicated for you, you might as well consider the completely free third-party remote control software AnyViewer. Compared with VPN, AnyViewer achieves complete control of the computer while ensuring the same high-level security. Compared to RDP, AnyViewer provides you with a stable connection while requiring simpler operating steps.