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I'm considering moving a lot of my development software onto a hosted server and getting a really lightweight laptop to do work on from anywhere by connecting to the server remotely through RDP.

What kind of internet connection speeds do I need in order to make this painless/seemless?

Anything else I should take into consideration when setting this up?

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As others have said, its mostly about latency, not so much the bandwidth. Read "It's the Latency, Stupid", it'll help understand why: rescomp.stanford.edu/~cheshire/rants/Latency.html –  ThatGraemeGuy Sep 21 '11 at 7:59
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4 Answers

You should be concerned with two factors:

  1. Latency: How long does it take for data to get from point A to point B? Latency of 50ms to 100ms or less is what you should look for. Note that you won't be able to control latency but anything over 100ms is likely to exhibit lag in the RDP session.

  2. Capacity: How much bandwidth do you need? If you run multiple applications in the remote session, run the session in full screen and/or spanned monitors, if you configure the RDP client to use 24 bit or 32 bit color, if you enable resource redirection (local printers, drives, etc) then you should plan on having bandwidth of 100Kbps for the RDP session itself. This doesn't account for any other bandwidth needs that you have that are unrelated to the RDP session.

100Kbps is the number I've come up with in my RDP performance tests. A lot of people are going to disagree with me, but a heavily used RDP session (resource redirection, full screen or spanned, many applications running concurrently requiring lots of screen redraws) averaged about 100Kbps over an 8 hour period in my tests. That being said, I'd rather have more capacity than I need then less.

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Thanks. Very helpful. –  Richard DesLonde Sep 21 '11 at 4:29
    
Glad to help... –  joeqwerty Sep 21 '11 at 4:36
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It's less about the speed of the connection and more about the latency of the connection. I use a similar arrangement for consulting and monitoring from a central data center-based environment. Anything under 50ms is more than acceptable. Ideally, you'll have a connection speed greater than 1.5-megabits/second. If using raw RDP, setting a lower color depth and resolution will help. On your hosted system, disable themes and use a basic desktop background.

One thing that's helped me when I'm farther away or have higher-latency links is using an RDP accelerator. I use a single instance of Ericom Blaze, which employs compression and other techniques, for this.

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Do you find this an effective way to do your consulting? I currently have an external hard drive with a VM on it for each client. It's been great because I can customize the dev environment, join their domain, etc. I would like to offload this to a server if I could though . . . –  Richard DesLonde Sep 21 '11 at 4:28
    
It depends. I have site-to-site VPNs established from my data center to client sites. I still work off of a full laptop, though. The data center presence is really just a nice way to have a "home base". –  ewwhite Sep 21 '11 at 4:42
    
Do you host the data center? –  Richard DesLonde Sep 21 '11 at 4:44
    
My servers in a co-location facility. –  ewwhite Sep 21 '11 at 4:54
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Sorry if it's an obvious answer but you should also consider the security of your new hosted server versus one which you have previously been running locally and have more control over.

You would want to be able to connect yourself but you obviously don't want anyone else to be able to connect!

Multiple redundant backups of your hosted server would also be necessary.

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100ms and 512Kbits works fine for me.

Also rdp-clients have some settings to be faster on bad connections.

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any recommendations of a client that could offer some settings for slow connections? especially Linux and android based? –  radek Apr 13 '13 at 15:06
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