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At my company I frequently need to access shared files over a Windows network. These files are located on the other side of the planet, so I guess the file share goes through some kind of VPN over Internet, but I don't control this and it is supposed to be "transparent" for me. However it is extremely slow. Displaying the content of a directory in the file explorer takes about 10s.

Even if over the Internet, I did not expect that retrieving a list of file names would be that long. Are there any settings to optimize this from my Windows XP workstation, or is it mostly related to the way the network is configured?

The only thing I have found so far is to cache all file names, while by default only short file names are cached (

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Yes, there are WAN accelerators available by the likes of River Bef that can make a huge difference here. They'll need to be implemented by your IT department though. There's really nothing you can do. – EEAA Nov 16 '12 at 6:51
up vote 0 down vote accepted

If you're running a pre-Windows 2008 server or XP client as you stated, then you're only getting SMB 1.0 which is a block-level protocol that is notoriously slow over a WAN.

Your options are:

  • Move server and client up to 2008 and Windows 7 to get to SMB 2.0.
  • Implement WAN acceleration as suggested, but it's a costly proposition.
  • Try tweaking your TCP receive window size, selective acknowledgement (SACK),and window scaling -- usually a registry hack unless you can find a tool to do it for you.

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Thanks. The suggested tweaks did improve a little bit the response time. Nothing miraculous, but I did not expect any miracle :) – Djizeus Nov 16 '12 at 12:16

Agreed with above post, however there are additional options.

  • Move server and client up to 2008 and Windows 7 to get to SMB 2.0.

This is something you definitely have to do, not only for SMB 2.0 but also for BranchCache, which allows you to cache remote files in your local office and speed up opening of much used files.

Another option I would like to add is. There are a bunch of different brands of network applicences which allow you to Cache and/or Compress network traffic between offices, on top of QoS which could give a boost to your network performance.

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+1 for BranchCahce – Taylor Gibb Nov 16 '12 at 11:19
Thanks. I know that migrating desktops to Windows 7 is in the pipe, so I am looking forward :) – Djizeus Nov 16 '12 at 12:13

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