Introducing Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDCMan) 2.2


Inside Microsoft, we maintain a repository of tools written by our engineers and technical staff. Many of the tools that are posted are very specific to Microsoft engineering— tools to help developers and testers better manage their project in our internal source control system, provide better visibility into our internal bug/issue tracking system, etc. Since these tools are very specific to the Microsoft environment, most of them don’t get released externally.

About eight months ago, I came across a tool in the repository called Remote Desktop Connection Manager (“RDCMan” for short) written by Julian Burger, one of our principal developers on the Windows Live Experiences team. RDCMan is a central place where you can organize, group, and manage your various Remote Desktop connections. This is particularly useful for system administrators, developers, testers, and lab managers who maintain groups of computers and connect to them frequently. As an example – my customer manages over 200 Exchange servers worldwide. Today, they maintain a configuration file for the Remote Desktops MMC with many of their servers. Of course, with 200 servers, it becomes difficult to maintain and navigate, as seen in the following screenshot.


Figure 1: Managing RDP connections in the Remote Desktops MMC

After I installed RDCMan, it was very clear that our customers and partners would benefit greatly from it, as it fills the gap nicely that the standalone Remote Desktop Connection application and the Remote Desktops MMC snap-in leave behind. Here’s a screen shot of an organized RDCMan configuration with the servers organized by version (Exchange 2007, Exchange 2010), region (Chicago, Redmond) and then finally by Exchange role (Client Access, Hub Transport, Mailbox, etc.)


Figure 2: An organized RDCMan configuratoin

You’ll also notice that there’s a grid on the right side that has a thumbnail of each of the servers. Yes, RDCMan supports a live thumbnail view of your connected servers, as seen in the following screenshot.


Figure 3: RDCMan displays live thumbnails of your connected servers

I’ll leave the other features for you to discover.

With Julian’s blessing, I worked with our legal department, trademark group, engineering compliance, release support, and others to get RDCMan licensed for external distribution… and while it’s been months in the works – today, I’m excited to announce that Remote Desktop Connection Manager is now available externally on the Microsoft Download Center – get it from http://go.microsoft.com/?LinkID=9733636.

David Zazzo

Comments (66)
  1. Phil Braniff says:

    This tool is a real time saver and the more servers you work with the more time it will save you.  

  2. world free says:

    very nice tool!  i have been a long time user of terminals (found on codeplex) and this tool has pretty good "feel" with my limited usage.  

    feature request:  the addition of an auto-filling address bar at the top that queries the tree to quickly connect to X server would be golden.

  3. GoodThings2Life says:

    Woah!! Awesome! I hope this replaces the Remote Desktops console in Windows Server…

  4. Mike Crowley says:

    This looks great!  Will it / Can it be included in future versions of RSAT – replacing the current MMC?

  5. colin says:

    OMG this is the best thing EVER!

    OK you must do an internal review of ALL your tools and reconsider releasing them if this is the kind of stuff you have hidden in there.  What other amazing stuff are you hiding from us!

  6. Pat Richard says:

    When I was at the ECOE a couple of years ago, I managed to get a copy of version 1.0. It’s been a handy tool ever since. Glad to see that it’s now publicly available!

  7. c5thunder says:

    Been using this tool for about 2 weeks now and its great, but i must also mention a 3rd party tool that preceeded it. Its called RoyalTS from http://www.code4ward.net

    It has many of the missing features from RDCMan and is worth every penny.

  8. RDRStageCoach says:

    This looks pretty nice, but another 3rd party tool that is even better and supports many other protocols is VisionApp Remote Desktop!

  9. Jeff Guillet says:

    Thanks for running this through all the necessary departments, David. That probably took as much time as it did to develop the tool. Great job and many thanks!

  10. Name says:

    Julian, you’re brilliant. This tool makes my work a lot easier.

  11. Em0 says:

    Fantastic!

    ThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyouThankyou

  12. Robert says:

    Anyone know how to easily list the VMs on a hyper-V server?  

  13. JoergR says:

    I can´t believe you got more awesome tools like that one here at your hand – this tool really rocks, especially with huge ammounts of servers to manage. it beats all other third party rdp concentrator-tools i know so far. i wish you guys would release more of stuff like this because this one here is so great, it screams.

  14. jim says:

    Really great tool thanks!  I do have one issue when trying to log off a group of servers, I get the message "unable to logoff from …. Reason:  Log off session API failed".  Anybody else getting that?

  15. reto says:

    Very nice tool, thank you! Great!!!

    A search function would be a nice feature…

  16. paul says:

    Nice but not enough to detract me from Visionapp Remote Desktop as it allows central database configuration as well as support for other protocols such as ICA, SSH, HTTP (HP iLO), etc.

  17. Jonas says:

    At last they released it in public even though I’ve been using it for quite some time since in my lab here:

    http://www.sysadminlab.net/windows/how-sysadmins-rdp-efficiently-using-remote-desktop-connection-manager

  18. Joe says:

    is there a limit to the # of groups you can add?

  19. colin says:

    As a feature request, I would like an export function where can export it without my credentials to share with other co-workers.

  20. Mark Dowling says:

    This is an incredible tool.  Kudos for getting this done.

  21. Matt says:

    There appears to be a bug that prevents you from adding sub groups in some cases.  For instance, if I create a group called "Group A" in the root, and then create a second group called "Group B" in the root, any time I try to create a subgroup in Group B my only option for a parent is Group A.  I have looked at the XML and I can see no difference in any of the elements.  I have tried creating new RDG files and I can recreate the problem consistently.  

  22. Pierre Brousseau says:

    This is a nice tool, but I really like Remote Desktop Manager:

    http://remotedesktopmanager.com/

  23. stephen says:

    This might be enough for me to switch away from using RoyalTS

  24. Matthers says:

    Nice looking tool but why not in an mmc? This means I’d have to have another window open with my custom mmc now

  25. thomas says:

    Very nice tool. Thanks for making it available. I especially like the abillity to undock a connected session (very useful for comparing servers on multi-monitor setup). My top feature request would be import/export of connections on the group level (preferably in an easy to modify format like .csv). Thanks again for sharing this with the world :)

  26. Anthony S says:

    Great Tool.  Previously used VRD 1.5..which appears to still have some benefits – namly password protecting the config file and not being able to see the password.  ie – if someone grabbed the MS config file, they could import it and see your servers and passwords.  With VRD, they’d have to decypher the password on the file first and even then, there’s no option to clear text the password.

  27. sanjay says:

    Really nice tool, but in the group/server settings, I hope they would have a "connect to console session" setting. So that on double-clicking any server it would automatically connect to console. This one thing may mean I still use terminals.

  28. gvannoy says:

    I just wanted to say thanks, this has made my life so much easier.  thanks a lot.

    glen

  29. dzazzomsft says:

    All – the great comments, criticisms, and the overall enthusiasm has been great to read.  I’ve read every comment, and encourage you to keep ’em coming.

    After this blog post went to "print", we set up a Microsoft Connect site that you can use to submit feedback back to us – feature requests, bug reports, etc.  You can find it at http://connect.microsoft.com/site1049.

    (Of course, can’t forget this:  We’ll read each piece of feedback, but more often than not, we won’t be able to reply to each of them…)

  30. lucky says:

    Great Tool !!!

    But if I want to logoff a server, i’m getting an Error: "Unable to log off %servername% Reason: Log off session API failed"

    Anyone got a solution for that?

    Lucky

  31. bernard says:

    dzazzomsft, unfortunately when I go to that website it brings up a page not found message.

  32. RE says:

    I recently downloaded this tool and really like it, but I am having some difficulty. An application on several servers that my team manages requires that we specify the /admin switch when using mstsc.exe to establish an RDP session. Is it possible to specify this switch using RDCM? I’ve poked around through the help file and various configuration dialogs but have not yet figured it out.

  33. rkart says:

    Right click on the server and select connect as where you will get an option "Connect to Console"

  34. Thank you, thank you! You can’t believe how much time this will save. This is a great tool for those of us with large numbers of servers.

  35. Steele Phoenix says:

    Dzazzomsft that link is no longer valid.  Do you have a different link?

  36. dzazzomsft says:

    @Bernard/@Steele,

    Thanks for pointing out the bad link.  I think there’s something funny with it (it works for me.)  I wonder if it has to do with first registration or something.

    Here’s a workaround you can try:

    Go to Microsoft Connect: http://connect.microsoft.com

    Log in or register, then on the upper-right hand corner of the page, you should see some links, one of them being Directory.

    Under categories (on the left-hand navigation), choose Servers.  You should then be able to find Remote Desktop Connection Manager in the list and get to the connection that way.

    If it still doesn’t work, drop me a note at david.zazzo at microsoft daht com, and I’ll dig deeper.

    Thanks!

  37. John D says:

    In my line of work, secuirty is key.  As such, we change the RDP port number using regedit on all our server from the default port to a custom port.  In the standard RDP client, we are able to connect using mstsc /v:SERVER:PORT.  I am not able to have the same luck with this application.

    Does anyone know how to connect to the RDP session using custom ports?  This application would be ideal as I am always in numerous servers throughout the day which usually very from day to day.

  38. Andrew says:

    John D,

    Open RDC Manager and select Edit -> Properties -> Connection Settings

    Remove the option to inherit from parent and change the port number that will be set to 3389. Is this what you are after?

    Andrew

  39. HeDish says:

    Lucky,

    I also have the same problem, "Unable to log off from Serverxy

    Reason: Log off session API failed" when i choose Log off.

    Anyone have a solution?

  40. BPowers says:

    This seems like a nice program, but I am very satisfied with TSRoyal by Code4Ward.

    TSRoyal not only manages RDP connections, but can also manage telnet connections and out-of-band http connections to servers and devices.

    Folders help keep you organized and settings and passwords are exportable in XML.

  41. Geo says:

    A great tool. but as others, I’m having the "Unable to log off from <Servername> Reason: Log off session API failed" error.

  42. Datadude says:

    Oooh, baby…..I sure hope this works, it looks sweet.

  43. Rob says:

    Same here: Unable to log off.

    Only our Exchange Server 2007 works but the other Server 2003 boxes having the error.

    Is it a security issue?

  44. Jineshv says:

    Sweet. Thanks a lot David and Julian. I’ve been missing this tool for a while now.

  45. jays0103 says:

    Sweet. I just installed it to my network. Saves me lots of time.

  46. Mischa Oudhof says:

    This looks like a good tool. I’ll try it. Might even get my collegue to stop nagging about mRemote.

  47. Holst says:

    Two things.

    I am also getting the log off issue reported several times in the above posts – doesn’t seem to be any update on this.

    Secondly, importing servers is either *.txt or all files. However I won’t allow importing of saved RDP connections?

  48. knchilders says:

    very cool!

  49. 8i5 says:

    This is a wonderful tool for those of your managing large numbers of servers – biggest timesaver I’ve found in the last year.

    Just one minor request – please enable the software to "remember" the setting of the "Viewconnected group" option. You have to turn it on every time you start the application which is a headache.

  50. sanjay says:

    Is there a way to hack the .rdg file or anything to ensure on clicking any server it *always connects to console*. I know there is a right click option for connect to console, but I don’t want to be mindful of always remembering to connect to console. And its important for us to always be on the console.

  51. sanjay says:

    ^^ delete my above comment. Have not noticed the "connect to console" setting in the "connection settings" properties window (it was initially disabled)

  52. DeHer says:

    Thanks for sharing.

    Will not use it though, I’m happy with ‘mRemoteNG’ as it is.

  53. Mohamud says:

    This is great but it would have been better if you can add this tool to other MMCs. I use Hyper-V Manager, Storage Manager, Certificate Services, AD, etc.. Sometimes I don’t need to remote to the computer to run a task if I can run the tool specific for that task. Can you please have this tool added to existing MMC or replace it with the Remote Desktops tool?

  54. Ytsejamer1 says:

    I dig it!  I’m a big RoyalTS user, but this is great.  Just to be able to sort is a major function that Remote Desktops lacked.

    That being said, one thing (while neat) that I don’t like is actively being able to interact with the thumbnails.  I like the thumbnails being active, but in viewable only.  That way, if I was to double click the thumbnail, it would open to the full screen, rather than having to double click the thumbnail "name bar" to open it to the full active screen.

    I think it can be dangerous being able to click in the thumbnail, not really see what’s happening depending on the size, and being able to accidentally perhaps change some random stupid display settings…or worse.  Yes, the likelihood is minimal…but still possible.

  55. grant says:

    Just a quick note: We had in our possession version 1.42, and when we attempted to open an RDG file built under 1.42 on 2.2, it popped up with an error regarding some kind of ‘failure to inherit…’, and it wipe the file clean! Caused a bit of a panic over here. Thank goodness for backups! Any tips on how to import/open a v1.4 RDG file?

    Thanks in advance,

      Grant

  56. alex says:

    I love it!

    Some little feature requests:

    – Option to import .rdp-files

    – realvnc compatible

    a tool that can manage both protocols would cover our entire remote management strategy and be sooo much more useable.

    thank you for this!

  57. Eager to start using this tool against my Hyper-V server

    Anyone know how to easily list the VMs on a hyper-V server?

  58. Jeff25 says:

    Connect to console can be set to inherit from group or can be overridden.

    Go to your group or root level, select the connection settings tab and enable the Connect to Console tab.

    Also, regarding transferring the config file to another user.  If your credentials at the root level are set to inherit from parent, the settings use the credentials you are logged onto your local machine with.  I just gave my config file to a co-worker and it is showing his credentials.

    GREAT tool!  I am telling everyone about it.  Still loving the "new car smell"

  59. Chris128 says:

    Nice tool but found a bug in the List Sessions window that crashes the whole application. I’ve submitted a Connect bug report with the details here:  https://connect.microsoft.com/site1049/feedback/details/583412/list-sessions-window-crashes-entire-app-if-you-close-it-before-query-has-completed

  60. RandyB says:

    I’ve used the free version RoyalTS for while. So far I like RDCMan alot. I have three enhancement requests presented in ease of implementation.

    First one should be easy: Display the Comment in the thumbnail view. While the displayname could be changed to include additional info, it would clutter the tree.

    Second one is to be able to list information on a group in a table format (like in RoyalTS). Some default columns would be ‘Folder’, ‘Display name’, ‘Server name’, ‘Description’, ‘User name’, ‘Domain’.

    Third one is to be able to store various system info: OS Ver, SP, CPU info, Memory, List of drives/sizes. Especially if a matching script can be run to capture that information and just copy/paste RDCMan.

  61. JohnW says:

    Looks like a nice tool, but limited compared to what can be done with VisionApp.  If all you need to do is manage RDP connections, this tool will work for you.  But if you connect to ICA, VNC, telnet, SSH, and HTTP/S as well as RDP, then I would suggest checking out VisionApp.  Definitely worth the money.

  62. Jose de Leon says:

    Where are the .rdg files???  I just want to move them to another machine so I don’t have to rebuild my list which is now considerable.  They appear to be hidden but no amount of ‘showing hidden/system’ files helps.  I run explorer as admin but still can’t see them.  I can see the paths listed in rdcman properties for the groups.  The path says: "C:Program FilesRemote Desktop Connection ManagerMyConnections.rdg".   But when I navigate there via windows explorer, nothing is there.  If I try to rename the group and specify a new path, it works, but in the new path it doesn’t show in windows explorer.  I even tried to copy from the rename dialog box and paste somewhere else but then I get windows error saying that that the source path doesn’t exist.

    Really confused, what is going on here?  Is this a feature or a bug?

    How do you export/copy these to a new machine?  For that matter, how would I backup these configurations if they can’t even be found where rdcman says they are?

    OS: Windows 7 32bit

    RDCMan 2.2

  63. To connect to Hyper-V servers:

    =========================

    Install the RDCMan on the server where Hyper-V server

    On the Hyper-V clients….need to enable the Remote Desktop Connection…before tying to connect

    You should be able to add the Hyper-V Clients!

  64. Ivo Ip says:

    The system forced me to use administrator or equivalent account to login.  I do not have to when I use the regular remote desktop client

  65. Mika says:

    A feature request:

    -Option to password protect the .rdg file.

Comments are closed.