Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

RDP allows users to access resources from any machine running Microsoft Terminal Services, which enables the graphical user interface (GUI) of the operating system on the remote machine to display on your machine. At NC State, RDP will allow users to remotely access machines on the Virtual Computing Lab (VCL) without requiring that the user have the same operating system as the remote machine.

This protocol allows for multiple channels of communication – with each channel providing different types of data such as device communication and presentation data from the server. RDP pushes primitives, a combination of pictures and information, to the requesting user. Primitives are instructions on how to do a task that is often repeated such as drawing a line or formatting text.


The picture gets sent through RDP as an image, the block of text gets sent as an instruction. The instruction for the text would include things like the font face (Arial), the font size (24px), the font color (black), the text string (“An image of a computer”), and other important details such as positioning. By using these multiple channels and splitting the data into separate pieces, RDP can operate under much slower network speeds than other networking protocols.

These multiple channels also allow you to tunnel resources from the server to your computer. You can tunnel drive access, printing, and even sound. This would allow you to print to your local printer, save to the hard drive on your own machine, and listen to any sound generated on the server. Also, RDP is both compressed and encrypted.

Windows 10 Users:

  • Open up Search
  • Type “Remote Desktop Connection”

Mac and Linux Users:

When using VCL through NC State’s system, you can either choose “Get RDP” file or type the address in to your RDP window to access the machine you requested.

Video Walkthroughs (You must log into Shibboleth to view)

Video walkthrough of RDP on Windows

Video walkthrough of RDP on Mac