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What is RDP?

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft that allows users to connect to another computer over a network connection. This connection enables remote management and access to applications, files, and network resources as if you were physically present at the remote machine.

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How RDP Works

RDP works by transmitting screen images from the remote computer to the client device and sending input from the client device (such as keyboard and mouse actions) back to the remote computer. This two-way communication is facilitated by RDP's ability to compress data and manage network bandwidth efficiently.

Key Features of RDP

  • Multi-Channel Communication: RDP supports multiple, simultaneous channels for data transfer. This allows it to carry various types of data, including device redirection, encryption, and licensing information.

  • Compression and Caching: RDP compresses data to reduce bandwidth usage and implements caching mechanisms to improve performance.

  • Security: RDP includes features like encryption and Network Level Authentication (NLA) to enhance security.

Is RDP TCP or UDP?

Understanding whether RDP uses TCP or UDP is fundamental to configuring your network and firewall settings appropriately. Let's delve into the details of these protocols and their relevance to RDP.

What are TCP Ports?

Overview of TCP

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is one of the core protocols of the Internet Protocol (IP) suite. TCP is designed to provide reliable, ordered, and error-checked delivery of data between applications running on hosts communicating via an IP network.

Characteristics of TCP

  • Connection-Oriented: TCP requires a connection to be established between the two endpoints before data can be sent.

  • Reliable Transmission: TCP ensures that all data sent is received accurately and in the correct order. If any packets are lost or corrupted, they are retransmitted.

  • Flow Control: TCP manages the rate of data transmission between the sender and receiver to prevent network congestion.

TCP in RDP

For RDP, TCP port 3389 is the default port used. This port must be open in the firewall to allow RDP traffic. The use of TCP ensures that RDP sessions are stable, with data transmitted reliably, making it suitable for tasks requiring high accuracy and consistency, such as remote administration and troubleshooting.

What are UDP Ports?

Overview of UDP

User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is another core member of the Internet Protocol suite. Unlike TCP, UDP is connectionless and does not guarantee the delivery, order, or integrity of data packets.

Characteristics of UDP

  • Connectionless: UDP does not establish a connection before sending data, which reduces overhead and latency.

  • Unreliable Transmission: UDP does not ensure that all data packets reach their destination. It is up to the receiving application to handle any missing or out-of-order packets.

  • Low Latency: The lack of error-checking and connection overhead makes UDP faster and more efficient for applications that can tolerate some data loss, such as streaming and gaming.

UDP in RDP

Since RDP 8.0, UDP port 3389 can be used to improve performance. When available, RDP will attempt to use UDP first for its low-latency benefits. If the UDP connection fails, RDP will revert to TCP. This dual approach allows RDP to leverage the speed of UDP while maintaining the reliability of TCP as a fallback.

Comparison of TCP and UDP for RDP

Performance Considerations

  • UDP Advantages: UDP's low latency and ability to transmit more data in a shorter time make it ideal for high-latency networks, such as wireless and WAN connections. RDP over UDP can achieve 2 to 8 times more data throughput compared to TCP.

  • TCP Advantages: TCP's reliable transmission ensures that all data is received correctly, which is crucial for tasks requiring accuracy and order. This reliability makes TCP suitable for stable and guaranteed data transfer, even though it may be slower due to its congestion-avoidance mechanisms.

Reliability and Stability

  • TCP: Ensures all segments are received in the correct order and retransmits any lost segments. This makes TCP more dependable, especially in unstable network conditions.

  • UDP: Packets can be lost or arrive out of order, but the overall speed and efficiency make it preferable for applications where slight data loss is acceptable.

Configuring RDP Network Ports

Proper configuration of RDP ports is essential to ensure optimal performance and security. Here are detailed steps to configure RDP ports on Windows Firewall.

Step-by-Step Guide to Configure RDP Ports

Opening Windows Firewall Settings

  1. Access Control Panel: Navigate to Control Panel -> System and Security -> Windows Defender Firewall.

  2. Advanced Settings: Click on "Advanced settings" on the left side to open the Windows Firewall with Advanced Security window.

Creating a New Inbound Rule for TCP

  1. Inbound Rules: In the left panel, select "Inbound Rules".

  2. New Rule: Click "New Rule" on the right.

  3. Port Selection: Select "Port" and click "Next".

  4. Specify TCP Port: Choose "TCP" and enter "3389" in the "Specific local ports" field. Click "Next".

  5. Allow Connection: Select "Allow the connection" and click "Next".

  6. Apply Profiles: Apply the rule to Domain, Private, and Public profiles. Click "Next".

  7. Name the Rule: Enter a name for the rule (e.g., "RDP TCP 3389") and click "Finish".

Creating a New Inbound Rule for UDP

  1. Repeat Inbound Rule Steps: Follow the same steps as above but select "UDP" instead of "TCP" in the protocol selection.

  2. Specify UDP Port: Enter "3389" in the "Specific local ports" field.

  3. Name the Rule: Enter a different name for this rule (e.g., "RDP UDP 3389").

Verifying the Rules

  1. Check Rule Status: Ensure both rules are enabled and correctly configured.

  2. Test Connection: Test the RDP connection to verify that both TCP and UDP ports are functioning correctly.

Additional Security Tips

Use Strong Passwords

Ensure that accounts accessible via RDP have strong, complex passwords to prevent unauthorized access. Implementing password policies that require a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters can enhance security.

Enable Network Level Authentication (NLA)

Network Level Authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to authenticate before establishing a session. This prevents unauthorized connections and reduces the risk of attacks.

Limits of Users

Restrict RDP access to only those who need it. Create a specific user group for RDP access and add users accordingly. Regularly review and update user permissions to ensure only authorized personnel have access.

Regular Updates

Keep your system and RDP software updated with the latest security patches. Regular updates help protect against vulnerabilities and improve overall security.

Why Choose TSplus Remote Access?

TSplus Remote Access is designed to enhance the security and performance of your remote desktop connections. It provides advanced features such as two-factor authentication, endpoint protection, and robust encryption to ensure your data remains secure.

With TSplus, you can easily manage remote connections through a user-friendly interface, optimize bandwidth usage, and improve connection stability.

The solution is compatible with a wide range of operating systems and offers seamless integration with your existing IT infrastructure, making it a versatile and reliable choice for businesses of all sizes looking to optimize their remote access capabilities.

Conclusion

Understanding the differences between TCP and UDP and their use in RDP is essential for IT professionals managing remote access. TCP provides reliability, while UDP offers performance benefits, especially in high-latency environments. Properly configuring these ports and following best security practices ensures optimal performance and security for your RDP sessions.

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