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We have a Windows 2008 Server located in a remote data center connected over a highly latent (~200ms) 3MBps VPN connection to our primary location. This server has the Domain Controller and Terminal Services rolls installed. Logging into this machine takes a dramatic amount of time, much more than local desktops or other servers located in our primary facility (the server itself is 2 x quad core, 16GB RAM, 15K SAS drives, so it shouldn't be some hardware capacity issue).

It is my understanding that RDP login is mostly a function of starting up services and profile stuff, so my guess is that the profile may be streaming across the WAN and that takes the most amount of time? Would roaming profiles solve this? Is there a way to force profile "caching" on this machine? What else should I look for?

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Is the slowdown occurring before or after the user shell (desktop, start menu) appears? –  duffbeer703 May 10 '09 at 3:33
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Roaming profiles wouldn't help. WHen you look at the Terminal Services settings on the user account, do you guys set up Terminal Services profile information? This is usually common in environments where IS is run in Application Mode, such as when Citrix is deployed. Mapped drives, a home directory setting, etc., which is remote from that location may all cause such a slowdown.

A simple test to see if it's something to do with network traffic is try and logon with a local account that doesn't have any mapped drives, mapped resources, etc. If that logon is very quick, then you know it's something to do with traffic back across the network. If that logon is slow as well, then it is the server itself. One thing to look at the Terminal Services configuration on that server. You can tell it not to map printers, etc., because that will all take time as well.

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If your user profiles are stored elswhere (say on your local network) and it is configure to pull from there then this could be slowing it down, however if this is not the case then I think you are looking at a different problem.

Logging on via RDP is basically the same as if you are logging onto the server console, so if roaming profiles are not enabled then profiles should all be store locally and be accessed quite quickly. The thing to look for that is likely to be causing this server to slow down is whether it has any communication back to your office over your VPN connection, does it map drives, pull profile data back etc.

If thats not the case it is worth check the DNS on the server as I have known this to cause slowdown when logging on. If this domain controller is also a DNS server then the primary DNS server on the NIC should be itself.

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