VDI vs RDS: Choosing the Best Desktop Virtualisation for 2024


Since online working has become a necessity in recent years, businesses have been turning to technologies that allow employees to remain productive from anywhere.

In this article, we compare VDI vs RDS—two innovative solutions offering remote access to a desktop environment through most devices, regardless of location.

Find out more below!

VDI vs RDS: Features Comparison

Before thoroughly reviewing the VDI and RDS remote desktop experiences, let’s look at a comparison table of their most common features and benefits:

Dedicated virtual machine for each userx
Delivered through Windows Serverx
Supports offline workingx
Increased administrative securityx
Low maintenance costs and effortsx
Can connect with various types of devicesx
Personalised user experience and app choicex
Simple to set upx
Performance unaffected by the number of usersx

Note: Since these remote desktop solutions are updated regularly, the table above is not all-inclusive; therefore, some features may be missing or added at a later date.

What Is Desktop Virtualisation?

This modern desktop and app virtualisation technology uses the processing power of physical servers to create isolated virtual desktop environments for one or more clients.

Essentially, a single workstation (or a network of cloud servers) can replicate the same Windows experience you would get from a physical machine and let you access it remotely.

What Is VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure)?

Microsoft’s Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a standard desktop virtualisation technology based on a client-server model wherein a centralised physical machine runs desktop images via virtual machines and deploys them to multiple users over a network.

To create these virtual computers, VDI uses a ‘hypervisor’—a special program developed to partition a physical server and its resources into several virtual machines.

After logging in to their own VDI desktop, users get a separate Windows OS instance, server resources (as allocated by the administrator), and applications to run their tasks.

What Is RDS (Remote Desktop Services)?

Similar to the VDI remote desktop solution, RDS allows you to control a remote physical or virtual machine via Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).

However, unlike VDI, the RDS remote desktop experience does not offer separate virtual OS instances. Instead, users connect to a shared desktop session and use the same OS, applications, and computing power.

Also, desktop and device customisation is restricted since each user accesses the same operating system; in some cases, applications might not even offer multi-user access.

VDI vs RDS Performance Differences

The newer VDI technology is the clear winner since it offers performance comparable to standalone desktop systems with dedicated resources for each virtual machine, including GPU power for graphically-demanding tasks and media.

On the other hand, RDS users access their sessions via the Windows Server OS, which is far from adequate for intensive workloads.

VDI vs RDS User Interface

When using RDS solutions, each end-user experiences the same simplified interface similar to the Windows Server environment and has access to a shared suite of apps.

In contrast, VDI users access a customisable full-fledged Windows OS desktop experience (as an ordinary laptop or desktop), regardless of their end-point device.

VDI vs RDS Data Security

Both RDS and VDI clients only access the data stored in a centralised remote server or a cloud server cluster. Therefore, even if end-point devices get compromised, your data is safe.

However, since RDS users share the same administrative rights (due to the lack of separate virtual desktops), some end-users may be able to compromise the host server.

VDI vs RDS Cost Comparison

If you are looking for cost-effectiveness, RDS is the way to go as you only have to purchase and manage a centralised server machine with a single operating system.

However, VDI requires the deployment of separate virtualised operating systems. When you add the hardware, installation, setup, and IT maintenance costs, the price adds up, making VDI more suitable for larger and resource-demanding businesses.

VDI vs RDS: Advantages & Disadvantages

Finally, before deciding on either the RDS or the VDI remote desktop environment, you should look into the benefits and drawbacks of both virtualisation solutions:

AdvantagesSeparate software package per userOffline sessions and persistent desktopsGreat for resource-heavy tasks
Simple to add new usersReduced software licensing costsEasier to set up and maintain
DisadvantagesHigh installation costsRequires a dedicated IT staff

Lack of personalisationReduced performance

Note: VDI is the more modern and flexible solution offered by a greater number of cloud and datacentre companies in the form of DaaS (Desktop as a Service).

Bottom Line

Ultimately, the best approach to your virtualisation needs may be a combination of both VDI and RDS. If you represent a smaller business with limited needs and generic tasks, RDS may prove an efficient and inexpensive choice. However, if your company employs diverse talent with a unique and resource-heavy workflow, VDI’s flexibility will satisfy all your computing needs.


1. What is the difference between RDP and RDS?

The RDS virtualisation technology relies on the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to facilitate network communication between the client devices and the terminal servers.

2. Is VDI faster than RDP?

When comparing VDI vs RDS, remember that VDI solutions offer faster connectivity and performance speeds as they compartmentalise their resources for each user.

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