RDP performance in Windows Server and how to improve it

This article is relevant for Windows Server 2019 as a server and Windows 10 as an RDP client. In this article, we'll look at the steps you should take to get the best performance from your RDP terminal sessions in Windows Server.

1. Briefly about the main

In Windows 10, along with the standard Remote Desktop Client (MSTSC), there is a new Remote Desktop (MSRDC) client, that can be installed from the Microsoft Windows 10 store.

Note that MSRDC originally supported remote connections from Windows Virtual Desktop (VDI). Currently, there are clients for Windows Desktop, Android, iOS, and macOS.

You can compare two types of clients for remote connections - MSTSC and MSRDC.

Testing was conducted on virtual machines running Windows Server 2019 and Windows 10.

As a test, a file was copied from the client to the server. As a result of testing, we have the following results - copying using MSTSC:

Productivity increase

Productivity increase

For comparison, here are screenshots of the process of copying a file using MSRDC:

Productivity increase

Productivity increase

As you can see, the file is copied faster using mstsc, but at the same time, mstsc creates a significantly higher network and CPU load, taking up almost all available resources. At the same time, the use of the new MSRDC client looks preferable, because. with a large number of simultaneous connections will create a flatter load on system resources than MSTSC.

On the other hand, I would like to note the "dampness" of the new client for remote connections. For example, copying files from the server to the client simply doesn't work. In this case, both clients use the TCP protocol to connect to the server.

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2. Compress data transfer when connecting to the server

RDP clients can be configured to compress the data transfer when connecting to the server.

To do this, you need to open a local group policy object on the server and change the value:

Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Remote Desktop Services → Remote Desktop Session Host → Remote Session Environment → Configure compression for RemoteFX data.

It is possible to optimize server performance by optimizing memory, and network bandwidth, balancing memory and network bandwidth or disabling the compression mechanism.

For the experiment, let's try to optimize the work by optimizing the network bandwidth.

Change the parameter and restart the server:

Productivity increase

Look what happened for MSTSC:

Productivity increase

As you can see, nothing has changed. This is because this mechanism will only be noticeable on a large number of connections. Then we will see a decrease in network bandwidth consumption.

3. Disable Redirected Devices

The setting via GPO is in:

Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → Windows Components → Remote Desktop Services → Remote Desktop Session Host → Device and Resource Redirection.

Here you can enable or disable redirect settings for client devices. Including - video capture, audio playback and recording, clipboard, com port redirection, LPT port redirection, local disks, plug and play devices, smart card readers, and time zone redirection.

The more redirected devices in use, the more server network bandwidth they consume.

Redirected printers and Plug & Play devices also consume processor resources when entering an RDP session.

Audio redirection creates persistent network traffic. Applications that use audio redirection can consume significant CPU resources.

4. Client Interface Options

  • Disable the background image, this will significantly reduce network bandwidth consumption.
  • The bitmap cache must always be enabled because in this case, a client-side cache of bitmaps rendered in the session is created, greatly reducing bandwidth usage.
  • It makes sense to turn off the display of the contents of windows when dragging, because. this reduces the load on the network by displaying only the window frame instead of the entire content.
  • In the same way, it is worth disabling the animation of menus and windows, as it increases the load on the network subsystem.
  • ClearType must be enabled for systems earlier than Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2
  • Appearance styles are a setting that is relevant for Windows 7 and earlier systems. If disabled, throughput is reduced by simplifying drawings that use the classic theme.
  • Seriously affects CPU usage and network bandwidth and screen resolution with which the client connects to the server.
  • Microsoft recommends leaving the client connection settings in automatic mode, but it makes sense to try setting the settings manually.

For example, if you set the client to “Connect with a 56Kbps modem”, this will turn off a lot of visual effects and significantly speed up the server in the context of connecting a large number of RDP clients.

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5. RDP server configuration options

  • The swap file on the server must be large enough. If there is not enough virtual memory, the server may crash.
  • Antivirus can significantly slow down the system. Especially seriously, it can affect CPU usage. There is a recommendation to exclude folders with temporary files, especially those created by the system.
  • The Task Scheduler may contain a large number of tasks that are not needed on the RDS server. It makes sense to turn them off.
  • It is recommended that you disable all desktop notifications on the RDS server as they can consume a significant amount of system resources.
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