Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDCMan) is a tool for managing multiple remote desktops. It creates a single location for IT administrators to organize, group and manage connections.
The Remote Desktop Connection Manager was developed by the Windows Live Experience team to address the inflexibility of the native Remote Desktop Connection client's ability to handle multiple remote desktop protocol (RDP) connections. Because RDCMan was developed internally at Microsoft, the company does not support it.
How to use Remote Desktop Connection Manager
RDCMan is especially useful for systems administrators, developers, testers and lab managers who work with groups of computers, server labs or large server farms -- such as automated check-in systems and data centers -- where regular access to each machine is necessary. The ability to consolidate multiple RDP connections into a single window reduces desktop clutter.
Administrators can organize connections by groups through top-level hierarchies. In the two-pane interface, connection options include whatever the admin can define within a native RDP session. Admins can only import servers through a text file.
RDCMan is really only useful for RDP connections. This means it is perfect for administrators in Windows-only deployments who want a remote desktop management tool that is purely focused on RDP.
With Windows 10, only Pro users can grant access to their computers. To do so, users must open File Explorer, right-click This PC and select Properties, Remote Settings and select Allow remote connections to this computer. They should also turn off Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication.
RDCMan works with Microsoft Remote Desktop, Microsoft Remote Assistance, pcAnywhere, TeamViewer, Radmin and more. It includes a database where users can save their login credentials, which helps facilitate automatic login to sessions, including RDP and Terminal Services. The tool also supports Microsoft virtual private network (VPN) and Cisco VPN, among others. Admins can add on features, such as Java Web Start and MySQL tools.
Key features in the latest release include virtual machine connect-to-console support, client size options that come from the application configuration file, support for credential encryption with certificates and more.
The interface is simple and clean, but the descriptions of each connection are on the same line as the server name, which makes it difficult to see and manage two panes at the same time.
Some alternatives to RDCMan include Remote Desktop Manager Standard Edition from Devolutions, which offers Windows PowerShell support and integrates with Microsoft Azure. The Terminals remote desktop client, which is available on CodePlex, is another alternative. It can work with networking technologies such as Transmission Control Protocol connections and Time Sync. Other options include MultiDesk, which emphasizes security and only allows for a connection after the user confirms a shared piece of information, and mRemoteNG, which is open source.
How to set up Remote Desktop Connection Manager
To install RDCMan, a user clicks the download button for the Remote Desktop Connection Manager button in Microsoft’s Download Center. Setting up RDCMan entails using a setup wizard that first asks the user to accept a license agreement and then instructs him to click Next several times.
The first time a user launches a Remote Desktop Connection Manager, he or she will see an interface that’s pretty much empty because it’s reserved for RDP sessions.
To establish the first RDP session, a user chooses the Connect To option on the Session menu. At that point, the user will be presented with a dialog box that prompts for the server name (an IP address can be instead), username, password and domain.
The dialog box contains a Connection Settings tab that offers the user the option to launch an application, set a working directory, specify a custom RDP port and provide a load balancing configuration.
A user can also create a custom profile, so he or she doesn’t have to enter the same authentication information for every connection.
RDCMan enables a user to group RDP connections. The user could group sessions by server function, server type, geographic location or another organizational structure.
To create a group, a user clicks on New on the File menu. The user will then be prompted to create an RDCMan Group file. The name of the file the user enters should be same name he wants to assign to this group. As the user adds more RDP sessions to RDCMan, he or she can drag those sessions to the appropriate group.
To use one of his RDP sessions, the user clicks on the thumbnail that corresponds to the session he wants to look at -- the console will then instantly display the selected RDP session.
The Unlock option on the Session menu lets a user bring an RDP session out of the console and into its own window.
Closing RDCMan ends a user’s RDP sessions. To reconnect the managed servers, the user selects the Server checkbox (not the checkbox for each individual server), then clicks Connect.