Terminal Services and Active Directory

Terminal Services

Terminal service is a component of Windows Server Operating System that makes applications installed on the server accessible to computers in a network Applications can be accessed from a variety of devices such as smart phones, laptops or desktops running different operating systems.

Terminal services are useful when you want to reduce hardware costs by hosting applications on the server and access them using thin client devices or computers that have older hardware. Terminal services also enhance application access security by installing the application on a particular computer and allowing access to selective users.

Terminal services accessed by using client software are referred to as Terminal Services Client or Remote Desktop Connection and is used in multiple operating systems,

Terminal Services can also be used where an application is not compatible with an operating system. For example an application designed to run on Windows will not run on machines with MAC OS, UNIX or Linux. In such a case, you can install the terminal client software and access the application from a computer running terminal services enabling everyone to use the application irrespective of the operating system.

Terminal Server Licensing

Terminal Server though included as a component, requires separate licensing. By default, a 120 day trial is included.

Thin Clients

Thin client refers to computing devices that have minimum processing and storage capabilities. Thin clients depend on other powerful computer that takes care of such needs. Thin clients are not expensive and help organizations reduce cost.

Network Controllers

On medium to large sized networks, it is a practice to have centralized security. Network or Domain Controllers are used for authenticating user accounts and permissions are tightly controlled. This helps the administrators as everything is centralized and users can login to any of the computer within a network using a single username and password combination.


Workgroup or Peer-to-Peer computer network refers to decentralized model where the user name and password is stored on individual computers. Workgroup model is suitable for 10-15 computers or fewer numbers of users and requires additional administration as the number of computer or user grows. Since the permissions are managed locally at each computer, each user or owners of a computer act as an administrator.



Domain refers to a centralized model where a centralized database stores all the credentials (usernames, passwords, security policies, etc.). Domain models assist administrators to control the computers in a network from a single station making it easier to administer. Permissions (or restrictions) to change wallpaper, access control panel items, etc. can be set across the network keeping all the computers secure. Domain models are suitable for small, medium to extremely large networks and can scale to thousands of users.

Domains model

Active Directory

Active Directory is a directory service used in Microsoft Windows Domain networks. Here, a domain controller is configured to authenticate and authorize all users and computers in a network. Active Directory enforces security policies such as password length, password complexity, user restriction, etc. Active Directory or an equivalent directory service is widely used in medium to large corporate networks. Active Directory uses the LDAP Protocol for directory service, Kerberos protocol for authentication and DDNS for name resolution.

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