One of the great saving graces of Windows server is the way it can act as a Terminal Server (now renamed the Remote Desktop Server). In the voluntary sector it can be a great saviour, not just because it allows people to access their workplace desktop at home or in the field but because it allows old computers to last forever as long as the computer has a version of the Remote Desktop Client that will run on it – no problem with Windows 2000 upwards. In this way people can have a Windows 7 experience on a machine that is running Windows 2000 – and 10 years is a long time in the computing world
How does it work? What is Terminal Services?
Terminal Services (TS) is a form of ‘thin client’ technology. Instead of the computing that you do being done by your machine, it is done at the Server. Simply put, your machine sends data from its keyboard strokes and mouse movements to the server – which computes them as if it were your machine – and sends the results back to you as changes to your monitor screen.
The network link between your server and you, whether it’s ADSL broadband or a network cable, handles minimal traffic and your computer does very little work. So an old Pentium 4 at 2.4 GHz with 256M RAM running the Remote Desktop Client(RDC) gives Windows 7 environment (with a Windows 2008R2 terminal server) as well as a modern machine.
Not only that but you can run your Windows session on a Linux machine, an Apple or a smartphone. You can now do it through your web-browser too – and unlike programs like GoToMyPC or LogMeIn (which use remote control) you don’t tie up an office workstation.
This gives extra life to old kit and centralized management of desktop applications. And even though the server is where your computer session is actually going on you still have access to local printers and disc drives within the session.
We have helped a number of voluntary groups to run old computers using RDC on the local network in order to eke a little more life out of them. After all, they were once somebody’s pride and joy.