I have a server in the closet and an extra monitor which I setup on the wall just outside the closet. I would like to have it display various status tools. I like RDP as is but want to have the experience something like VNC provides without it's sluggish performance.

Is it possible with Windows Server 2008 R2 (or prev server versions) to have RDP act like VNC?

The server is connected directly with a VGA cable to 15" LCD that I can see from my desk about 10 feet away. The feature I would like to have from VNC is being able to see my keyboard and mouse interactions on the monitor. Usually RDP acts like a separate login instead of taking over the screen like VNC.

  • What is the monitor connected to? – JS. Jun 30 '09 at 14:13
  • What status tools do you want to view? – JS. Jun 30 '09 at 14:13
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    Your question is really vague. What functionality of VNC do you prefer over RDP? Without knowing these features, we can't recommend how to add them to RDP (if possible). – Russ Warren Jun 30 '09 at 14:14
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    What he means is a remote control tool, that still outputs data to the physically connected monitor. RDP (even with the /console switch) will kill output to the physically connected monitor, leaving it blank. – Izzy Jun 30 '09 at 14:31

You can use mstsc /console as Rob suggests, but it locks the interactive session so it doesn't work like VNC. If you want the server to behave as if someone was sitting at the keyboard then RDP won't do it.

Why not just use one of the VNC family? You mention "sluggish performance" but if the monitor outside the closet is directly connected to the server surely this isn't an issue.


  • VNC is pretty sluggish (in comparison to RDP) even over fast networks. :-( – Brian Knoblauch Sep 20 '10 at 17:46

Do you mean like using the -console switch with mstsc?


RDP acts like RDP.

You may want to consider using something else.

Best Windows remote support / screen sharing tools?


So, sounds like you want to control the server (which would be what RDP is for), but mirror your actions locally too (don't know why, but...) which is what VNC does. I'm not aware of this capability for RDP, but what I do know is that most VNC implementations can be a bit sluggish. That said, have you tried TightVNC (http://www.tightvnc.com/)?


These features of the TightVNC solution have been great improvements over other VNC solutions:

  • TightVNC uses so-called "tight encoding" of areas, which is effectively a combination of JPEG compression and other types of encoding. It is possible to watch videos and play DirectX games through TightVNC over a broadband connection, albeit at a low frame rate. TightVNC combines many other common features of VNC derivatives, such as file transfer capability.

mstsc -v:SERVERNAME /F -console

works fine

  • Perhaps mstsc /v:SERVERNAME -console would be more accurate, is that why this is -1? – MattGWagner Jun 30 '09 at 18:28
  • Any chance of finding out why the -1? – JoeOD Jul 7 '09 at 12:36

Another possible approach, in a slightly different vein: With Synergy, you could link your desktop to the server machine's display (the LCD dashboard) and attach it as an additional head adjacent to your primary desktop.

Synergy was created to solve the "one desk, two machines, two keyboards (and always the wrong one)" problem that's probably familiar to anyone whose desk holds more than one computer. Synergy virtually binds the separate displays on different computers into a single virtual multi-head setup, all connected over the network and brought under the control of a single master station's input devices. The machines don't even have to share a common OS.

Assuming whatever interaction you need to do with the dashboard LCD is broad/simple enough that you'd be able to see it from 10' away, you could just attach its display to, say, the right of your primary desktop. Then, whenever you need to interact with the server, just roll your mouse off the right edge of the screen, and voila: you're on the server.

(Setting up Synergy for the first time was the moment I truly learned the meaning of "nerdvana".) :)


-console does not work with windows 2008, vista, or windows 7. that switch has been depreciated.

the closest match is /admin, but that just gives you an administrative RDP session, it does not give you the console itself.

in fact, if the same use is logged in on the console of a 2008r2 server, you will convert their session to an RDP session, and then it can be timed out by RDP group policy settings and closed.

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