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What is Telnet?

Updated: March 29, 2010

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista

Windows Server® 2008 R2, Windows® 7, Windows Vista®, and Windows Server® 2008 include Telnet Client and Telnet Server, which allow users to make remote connections based on the Telnet protocol. By using Telnet Client and Telnet Server, you can run command-line programs, shell commands, and scripts in a remote command console session just as though you were locally logged on to the remote host. Thus, having Telnet client and server software solves two networking problems. Telnet allows for interoperability between disparate operating systems, and it facilitates administration of remote systems, saving administrative time and network resources.

Telnet Client and Telnet Server are well suited for troubleshooting and configuring remote computers, especially in mixed environments that require interoperability between different operating systems. For example, you can use Telnet Client to connect to a Telnet server that is running another operating system such as UNIX. Likewise, you can use a Telnet client that is running UNIX to connect to a computer running Windows. Telnet Client and Telnet Server are also ideal in situations where memory and processor resources or network bandwidth is limited. This is because computers running Telnet clients and servers use less memory and processor resources than other remote management tools, and Telnet clients and servers transmit only plaintext (unencrypted characters) across the network.

Remote administration is a method of managing one or more remote computers from a single location. In a large organization, you can use remote administration to centrally manage hundreds or even thousands of computers located in other buildings or even in other cities. In a small organization, you can use remote administration to manage a single server located in an another office.

By its nature, remote administration lowers the total cost of ownership (TCO) by making system management easier and more efficient. By using remote administration, server operators and technicians can manage and troubleshoot servers without having to locally log on to the server, thereby lowering the cost of on-site support. Remote administration also assists help desk technicians in solving problems more quickly by letting them interact with a user’s computer without having to be physically present.

Telnet is closely related to the Terminal Services technology. Terminal Services provides an alternative for remote command console sessions, depending on your needs for distributed computing, security, configuration requirements, and so on.

Telnet and Terminal Services are similar in that they are both used for remote sessions. However, Terminal Services allows client computers to operate in a server-based computing environment. Telnet allows terminal emulation only between a Telnet server and client. In contrast, Terminal Services running on Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003-based computers allows clients to run applications, while data processing and data storage simultaneously occur on the server. Applications and user sessions are transmitted over the network and displayed via terminal emulation software. Similarly, print streams, keyboard input, and mouse clicks are also transmitted over the network between the server and the terminal emulation software. Each user logs on and sees only their individual session, which is managed transparently by the server operating system and is independent of any other client session. You might want to use Terminal Services if you require more extensive distributed computing. For more information about Terminal Services, see Terminal Services Overview (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=85625).

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