What is Virtual Network Computing (VNC)? Is it Better than RDP?

what is vnc

The first step in understanding the question “what is VNC” is understanding the definition and what purposes VNC serves. From there, getting to know the differences between Virtual Network Computing (commonly known as VNC) and RDP (which stands for Remote Desktop Protocol) becomes a lot easier, allowing one to make an informed decision when selecting which type of service is best for their needs. 

As we look at each of these enterprise remote access solutions for remote control desktop, we are going to focus on the experiences of using each solution rather than diving into too much technical detail. 

Instead of getting into the nitty gritty of the technology and processes that allow these software solutions to work, we’ll cover the differences, similarities, and features of each so you can be better equipped to choose which remote control desktop solution will best suit your needs. 

Basic Terminology

First things first. What is VNC? What is RDP? Let’s break down what all of these terms and acronyms mean. 

In general, we are talking about software solutions that connect devices through a network – either peer-to-peer or via a server. Peer-to-peer networking works when two computers connect to each other directly, each doing double duty as both client and server. Traditional networking, on the other hand, works when two computers are able to share information via individual client connections to a central server.

What is VNC? 

VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing (and is not to be confused with a VPN, “Virtual Private Network”). VNC and VPNs accomplish similar things in the peer-to-peer networking world, as they allow remote access to a computer, its network, or its data. 

The main difference between the two is that a VPN offers a more limited connection that doesn’t provide as much direct access. Since a VPN provides remote access to a network, rather than a device itself, you are only able to access shared data and devices on that network (like a shared printer in an office). VNC provides much more robust device access, allowing you to take full control of a computer remotely (think remote control desktop). 

What is RDP?

RDP stands for Remote Desktop Protocol and is proprietary software developed by Microsoft for the purpose of remote access. RDP is a fairly universal tool, thanks to the fact that PCs are so commonly used throughout the world. But just because a lot of people already have RDP installed on their PC doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best tool for remote access.

As mentioned before, knowing the fundamentals of what VNC is and what RDP is will help you make the best informed decision. Read on to find out how these remote control desktop tools are different and which one will be the best fit for your needs.

Common Uses of VNC and RDP

Most commonly, these types of remote connections are used in one of several scenarios: working remotely, disasters, and remote technical support. 

If you, your colleagues, or your employees ever have the need to access work computers from a remote location (in the field, on the road, or on vacation), a remote control desktop tool is the perfect way to get what you need from wherever you are. That is, provided your remote location has sufficient internet access. 

Many companies have a remote control desktop solution on hand in case of emergencies. If for some reason, physical access to your office or workplace is disrupted, you can access critical files and devices via VNC or RDP.

Perhaps the most common implementation of remote control desktop tools is to provide technical support. Since screen sharing and desktop access are built in, these tools are perfect for diagnosing and fixing a client or employee technical issue. 

What is VNC Protocol? What is RDP Protocol?

The fundamental goal of VNC and RDP is the same. Both aim to provide remote access to a device or computer. The differences lie in the way that goal is achieved and the flexibility of each tool once implemented. 

For example, VNC protocol is based off of the concept of a remote framebuffer which exists for many platforms. Since RDP is a Microsoft protocol, one of its biggest limitations is compatibility. RDP is a good choice if you’re only ever going to be using Microsoft PCs. The software comes pre-installed and once you go through the steps of turning it on for both your local and remote computers, you’re essentially dealing with a plug and play situation. It should work for you right out of the box.

But if you need to implement a remote control desktop solution that will need to access multiple kinds of devices, RDP isn’t going to work in all situations. 

It’s likely that a broader implementation of a remote control desktop will need to handle an array of devices, including PCs, iOS devices, Linux devices, Mac computers, and Android phones. Employees that are part of modern distributed workforces most likely don’t all use the same kind of device to get their work done.

Plus, if you are thinking about using a remote control desktop solution for the purpose of remote IT support, you’ll definitely need more flexibility and compatibility options. Unless you’re in a closed network environment within the context of a single company, RDP generally doesn’t offer enough cross-compatibility support to provide remote control desktop help when diagnosing or fixing IT problems. 

That is why it is so important to understand your remote desktop needs and what VNC and RDP is to ensure you’re able to service specific compatibility requirements.

Peer-to-Peer Networking

Both VNC and RDP use a peer-to-peer network connection to provide remote access. This simply means that the two devices are connected directly to each other. Other, more versatile remote control desktop connections can be achieved through server connections.

This just means that each of the devices first connects to a server before sharing access and control. With server-based remote control desktop tools, you can remotely access a wider array of devices, which gives you more flexibility when working remotely or providing remote support. 

Netop’s remote control desktop uses a server connection to provide more security and flexibility during remote sessions. So when considering remote desktop vs VNC or RDP, keep in mind that VNC and RDP limit the kinds of devices they allow you to access remotely. Netop’s remote control desktop works flawlessly cross-device and cross-platform. 

Security and Compliance

Netop offers a virtual networking client that has many advantages over RDP. RDP’s ubiquity has actually led to data breaches and malware attacks that leverage flaws in Microsoft’s remote access tool, while Netop is built with top-level security from the start. 

With Netop, you’re not only getting super secure remote desktop software – our tool even goes so far as exceeding industry compliance standards and is some of the only HIPAA compliant remote access software on the market. 


So next time you catch yourself asking, “what is VNC,” think Netop. Of all the many VNC and remote desktop protocol solutions to choose from, Netop offers the most security and flexibility all while being simple to use and easy to implement. Stop cutting corners with your remote access – switch to Netop for the best secure remote control.

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