Remote Desktop Manager — A SysAdmin Review.
The SysAdmin Tools of the Trade…
As a SysAdmin, one of the most asked questions that I received since I started blogging about IT (and to be honest I myself was always curious what other sysadmins were using) was what tools of the trade do you use in your day to day endeavours to get your work done more easily.
Because this question has so many things/software/tools to write about, that I want to share with you and show you how I used them, I decided to start a series called (The SysAdmin Tools of the Trade); this will be the first review of the tools that I use on a daily basis and consider indispensable.
My number one tool, that is without a doubt my crown jewel for me is my Remote Desktop Manager.
I myself, absolutely cannot work using single remote connections through windows classic Remote Desktop Connection. When you have 10+ connections active, Alt-Tabbing them just becomes a nightmare to sort; and while Windows 10 introduced multiple desktops to the mix, a feature that Linux users benefited for a long time, I am 100% sure that most enterprises did not update their infrastructure and it is still hard to keep track.
So most admins will use a RDP Manager of some sort.
As most admins out there, I used to work with Remote Desktop Connection Manager from Microsoft as a freeware solution; but as time passed by, and seeing how hard Microsoft updated their free software (once a year if you’re lucky), and that those updates brought only small incremental bug fixes, I gave up on it entirely and started looking for alternatives.
After an extensive search on the internet, reddit and it-forums, I came across Remote Desktop Manager from a company called Devolution. They offer 2 versions a free one and an Enterprise variant; both are packed with features and you cannot go wrong with either of them.
Right of the bat I was impressed by the amount of features and detailed work that went into their software but as all advertised products that might sport a nice presentation page, I wanted to give the software a run thru its pace to see what it can do.
Right of the bat, I liked that the developer offered multiple extensions, especially .msi; if you work within an enterprise you will know that the fastest way to create a package and send it to everyone is by using a .msi installer and software like Configuration Manager. having the .msi package right from the source is always welcomed.
The installation process is very straight forward (I installed in out both Windows and macOS just to see how they look; hence the pictures) and you will not have any problems with this step.
The download size of the Enterprise Edition was ~146 MB and the installation size for the full version was around 306 MB with the free version coming just under that. This is important since keeping a small footprint on servers is very important, especially when you might have 100+ admins all with their profiles, the space starts to add up fast.
1st Steps and Impressions
The interface is a very structured one, top side is the office ribbon where most core functions can be found like. I will be going through each section to highlight the features I found most interesting.
The open session has the ability to start a single rdp connection or if you have multiple servers; in a folder you will be able to open up as many connections as you want. I tried it with 30 connections and it was still working.
Another great feature here is the ability to see logs for each rdp connection you ever had. The software monitors everything and logs it, so it will definitely come in handy when you are doing investigation work.
Here the most useful feature I found myself using on a daily basis was the send to clipboard feature . Basically you have a built in screen capture which will always come in handy when you are trying to show to a colleague or client some error fast.
Here you can edit, all the properties of each machine you have added or imported to the manager.
I was pleasantly surprised with the Password Management part, where you have a suggestion box telling you, your password strenght and also next to it a random password generator if you need something extra strong.
Now the security features do not stop here, they go all the way from being able to store your passwords encrypted locally, or have them stored on a database in your network, to integration with most password managers out there like 1Password, LastPass and many more:
Pretty much every possible scenario covered in regards to security and password management.
The view tabs includes a lot of features, most of them are self-explanatory like ToDo list, Advanced Search. The interesting part here is the Dashboard.
The dashboard is a slew of built-in features, scripts and reports that can be ran on the machine that you connected to and generate instant reports; you will likely find them to come in handy in your day to day operations.
In the Tools tab you can find some special treats, like the Add-on Manager that boosts some 100+ add-ons that can be installed; or your Script Manager that you can use to save your script repository that you will be able to run on any connection that you open. The Powershell Module was something different than I imagined, due to the fact that it opens a session on the install machine and not on the remote one, but there is a way to do that also.
Here you can find highlighted one of the strongest points to the whole software: use tabbed header . The ability to have all your RDP connections not visible only on the Navigation panel but also open connection visible in TABS, just like the image below illustrates:
More than just Remote Desktop Connections…
Here is the kicker, this software is so much more than just normal remote desktop connections, it offers connection capabilities to almost all known platforms.
I tried it for Citrix, SSH, RDP, FTP, Database Connections… and the list goes on …
Extensions support for all major browsers
All in all, this piece of software is just amazing, it simply is one of my best tools that I use on a daily basis. I sincerely cannot recommend this software enough, it was my first choice when I decided to start this series; all because I found this tool as my main driver each day and it has all the features that I need , in fact it has some many features that I am not using that it really is funny.
The free version is packed with features and you cannot go wrong with it, but if that is not enough the enterprise one will surely cover any and all needs.
So stop using old software and get in with the new:
Hope you enjoyed this review, and see you next time for my next tool in The SysAdmin Tools of the Trade…
Until then have a nice day !