IT Support

Your ultimate guide to hosted desktop services (desktop as a service)

In this comprehensive article, we're looking at hosted desktop services to explore its importance, benefits, and how to choose the right service for your business. We'll cover everything from the basics of virtual desktops to the strategic benefits to maximise the potential of hosted desktops for your business.
A photo of Ian Welch, who is a partner & technical director for Network

Written by

Ian Welch

Ian is the Technical Director @ Network and a certified ethical hacker (CEH), security professional (CISSP) and ISO27001 lead implementer with over 25 years experience.

Updated on

February 9, 2024

An office worker smiling whilst using her laptop to connect to hosted desktop services

Before we dive in

Are you looking for IT support for your business today? If so, check out our IT support service to see if we're a good fit for your requirements. Otherwise, we hope you enjoy our guide below!

Review our IT support service

Key Takeaways

  1. Hosted desktop services offer unparalleled flexibility and remote access, enabling businesses to operate efficiently from anywhere.
  2. Investing in a hosted desktop solution can significantly reduce infrastructure costs while enhancing security and compliance.
  3. Selecting the right hosted desktop service is crucial, focusing on scalability, compatibility, and support to meet your specific business needs.

What are hosted desktop services?

Hosted desktop services, commonly known as desktop as a service (DaaS), are a form of cloud service where your desktop environment is hosted on a remote server. This service enables you to access your desktop, applications, and data over the internet, rather than from a local desktop or on-premise servers. It’s similar to having your computer located in the cloud.

The beauty of hosted desktops lies in their flexibility and accessibility. Whether you’re using a personal laptop at a café or a tablet in a hotel room, you can access your virtual desktop and all its resources just as if you were at your office desk.

This approach leverages the power of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), ensuring that you have secure access to your work environment from any location with an internet connection.

Hosted desktop services simplify IT management and reduce the need for costly hardware or computer support. With virtual machines handling the heavy lifting, businesses can downscale their local IT infrastructure, potentially lowering costs on things like Windows licenses and hardware maintenance.

The importance of hosted desktops

Hosted desktops have become increasingly vital for businesses, especially in the evolving landscape of remote working and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies. They offer a harmonious blend of flexibility and security, critical for businesses that need to provide remote access to their employees while maintaining control over their IT environments, like accountancy practices and law firms for example.

For organisations where employees use their own devices, hosted desktops ensure that work-related activities are conducted in a secure, managed environment, irrespective of the personal device's security status. This is crucial for maintaining business continuity and protecting sensitive data.

Moreover, hosted desktops can be tailored to provide access to specialist applications or environments. For instance, using Azure Virtual Desktop or Citrix Virtual Apps, businesses can offer their employees access to high-end, resource-intensive applications without the need for powerful local hardware.

This not only optimises resources but also ensures that all employees, regardless of their physical location or the capability of their own device, have consistent and efficient access to the tools they need. Another example could be industries where it's common to share computers, like retail and manufacturing businesses with multiple staff members who share computers over the course of a work day.

In industries where compliance and data security are paramount, such as financial services or healthcare, hosted desktops provide a controlled and compliant environment. Microsoft Remote Desktop Client and similar remote desktop software enable a secure connection to the hosted environment, ensuring that sensitive data does not reside on local devices and is less susceptible to breaches.

In summary, hosted desktop solutions like cloud desktops and virtual desktops offer a versatile, secure, and cost-effective way for businesses to manage their IT needs.

They support remote working, ensure business continuity, and provide a scalable, flexible solution for IT management. By leveraging cloud environments like Microsoft Azure, businesses can enjoy enhanced performance, reliability, and security, ultimately contributing to their growth and success in today's digital landscape.

An IT support engineer working on a client request, typing on his keyboard

Do these technology challenges sound familiar to your business?

You're working with IT support that moves at a snail's pace, leaving you and your team hanging.

You’re worried your business is not fully prepared for the next major cyber attack.

You're frustrated that the business technology you've invested in isn't performing as well as it could be.

What are the benefits of hosted and virtual desktops?

Hosted and virtual desktop solutions are revolutionising how businesses in the UK and globally approach their IT infrastructure and remote working capabilities. These solutions provide a range of benefits, from enhanced security to cost savings. Below are some key advantages:

Enhanced flexibility and mobility

Hosted desktops and virtual desktops enable employees to access their work environment from any location, whether it's from a home office, a café, or during travel. This level of remote access is especially beneficial for businesses with a mobile workforce or those that offer flexible working options.

Cost efficiency

One of the most significant benefits of hosted desktop solutions is the reduction in infrastructure and hardware costs. By leveraging virtual machines and cloud desktops, businesses can minimise the need for new hardware and the associated costs. With virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) like Windows Virtual Desktop or Azure Virtual Desktop, businesses can run software and access essential data without investing in new, high-spec devices.

Improved security and compliance

Hosted desktops provide a secure environment for handling business data. With advanced security measures such as daily backups, anti-virus protection, and secure data centres, hosted solutions like Microsoft products ensure that your data is protected. This is particularly important in industries where data security and compliance with regulations are paramount.

Scalability and ease of management

Hosted desktop solutions offer unmatched scalability. New employees can be added quickly, and additional resources or apps can be allocated as needed, all without the need for on-site support staff or new device provisioning. This scalability is crucial for businesses looking to grow or adapt quickly to changing market conditions.

Consistency in operating systems and software

With hosted desktops, businesses can ensure that all employees are using the same operating system (like Windows 10) and software versions. This consistency reduces compatibility issues and streamlines IT management, as updates and patches can be deployed universally.

Enhanced collaboration and productivity

Hosted desktops allow for seamless collaboration, irrespective of where team members are located. With access to shared apps and data, employees can stay connected and collaborate effectively. Tools like Microsoft Office available on virtual desktops further enhance this collaborative environment.

Reduced environmental impact

By reducing the need for physical hardware and utilising public cloud services, hosted desktop solutions contribute to a lower carbon footprint. This is increasingly important for businesses looking to improve their environmental impact and sustainability practices.

Business continuity

In the event of a disruption, whether it's a natural disaster or a cyberattack, hosted desktop services ensure business continuity. With data and applications stored in the cloud, businesses can quickly resume operations, minimising downtime and potential revenue loss.

In summary, hosted and virtual desktops offer a comprehensive solution for businesses seeking to improve security, reduce costs, and enhance flexibility. These benefits are particularly pertinent for businesses operating in the UK's diverse and fast-paced market, where staying agile and secure is essential for success.

The integration of technologies like Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows Virtual Desktop, and other Microsoft products ensures that businesses have access to the best solutions for their needs.

A business owner smiling while using an iPad tablet device

Looking for a major upgrade to your IT services?

Enjoy IT support that's always on standby, offering a personal touch that understands your business.

Get the peace of mind that comes with advanced cyber security, keeping your team and operations safe.

Benefit from a dependable and forward-thinking IT environment that drives your business forward.

Selecting the right hosted desktop service for your business

Choosing the right hosted desktop service is crucial for ensuring that your business reaps all the potential benefits. Here’s a checklist to guide you in making an informed decision:

  1. Compatibility with your needs: Ensure the hosted desktop solution aligns with your business requirements. This includes compatibility with essential software, operating systems, and specific business processes.
  2. Security features: Look for a service that offers advanced security services, including data encryption, anti-virus protection, and monitoring. This is particularly important if you handle sensitive data.
  3. Performance and reliability: The service should provide a smooth and reliable performance. Check the specifications of the virtual machines, and consider options like Azure Virtual Desktop for high-performance needs.
  4. Scalability: Choose a solution that can grow with your business. It should allow you to easily add or remove users and scale resources up or down based on your changing needs.
  5. User experience: The ease of use and user experience is critical. Test the service to ensure it offers a seamless experience similar to working on a local desktop.
  6. Cost-effectiveness: Evaluate the pricing structure to ensure it fits your budget. Consider both the upfront costs and long-term expenses, such as maintenance and upgrades.
  7. Support and maintenance: Look for a service that offers reliable customer support and maintenance. This includes technical IT support, troubleshooting, and regular updates.
  8. Integration capabilities: The hosted desktop should integrate seamlessly with your existing IT infrastructure. This includes compatibility with your current cloud services, databases, and applications.
  9. Customisation options: Find out if the service allows customisation to meet your specific business needs. This can include custom apps, specific virtual desktop configurations, or unique security requirements.
  10. Data management and backup: The service should offer robust data management and backup solutions to ensure your data is always secure and recoverable in case of any loss.
  11. Compliance: Ensure the service complies with relevant industry standards and regulations, especially if you operate in a regulated sector.
  12. Access and mobility: Check the ease of remote access and the quality of mobile experiences. The service should offer consistent performance across different devices, including remote desktops and cloud desktops.
  13. Reputation and reviews: Research the provider’s reputation and read customer reviews. This can provide valuable insights into the service quality and customer satisfaction.
  14. Trial periods or demos: If available, take advantage of trial periods or demos. This allows you to test the service in your own environment before making a commitment.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select a hosted desktop service that not only meets your current needs but also supports your business as it evolves. Remember, the right hosted desktop solution can be a game-changer in terms of productivity, security, and cost-efficiency.


Does your business face similar needs in terms of remote access and IT infrastructure? How could hosted desktop solutions impact your team and overall business efficiency? We're eager to learn about your experiences and requirements. If you're considering implementing or upgrading your hosted desktop services, feel free to get touch with us. Let's explore how we can tailor the perfect hosted desktop solution for your business.