Right now, I have Adobe Reader 9.0.0 installed on my Win 2003 Terminal Server. Before I just go ahead and update it to version 9.4, does anyone have an experience with a better PDF Reader for a terminal server environment?

It does not perform poorly now, but I am worried that the update might cause some unwanted slowdown in performance. Can anyone recommend a better alternative for a terminal server environment than Adobe PDF Reader? Any gotchas when installing in a TS environment? My googling hasn't really answered my questions completely and Adobe didn't seem to have any information pertaining to this situation available (unless I just missed it). Thanks.


I should have been more detailed in my description. I have at least 50 users dialed into the TS at any time, and they all open PDF's all day long because all of our files are scanned that way. As mentioned in one of the comments, any added bloat to the Adobe Reader application in the 9.4 upgrade could cause some performance problems. Just trying to do my research before blindly updating. Everything could work just fine. I just want to cover my bases and see if there are any other lightweight reader alternatives designed for a TS environment.

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    You're not having problems now but you want something different because you're worried about a condition that might occur, of which you have no evidence to support your presumption? I'm sorry but I just don't follow this line of thinking. "I don't have a problem now, but I think I might have a problem in the future, so I want to replace the current thing I have which is working fine with something else, of which I have no knowledge of or experience with". – joeqwerty Oct 8 '10 at 13:50
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    To be fair, AR is fairly bloated as it has a standalone AutoCAD reader, DRM, etc. (see sarahs-muse.livejournal.com/1082344.html) but on the other hand the only thing I've found that reliably reads whatever version PDF is floating around is the official Adobe Reader. So...alternatives may run into quirks. – Bart Silverstrim Oct 8 '10 at 14:07
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    +1 to Bart for quirks mode. Adobe is encouraging more lock-in to their products (I hate it but can't criticize...) and making PDFs more likely to not work in alternative products. With that said, I think it's valuable to keep it around in a limited capacity, but roll out something more streamlined for general use. (Read: install but not the default.) – gWaldo Oct 8 '10 at 14:32

Try FoxIt. It's a small lightweight pdf viewer. They (at least used to) have a stand-alone executable (about 2-3MB) that didn't require installing, but


I've personally put a version of SumatraPDF on a 2003 Terminal Server with excellent results for my users.

The difference to your situation:

  • only 20 users at a time.
  • not so heavy viewing/printing of PDFs per user as you describe.
  • a "known good" set of PDFs to work with from a "known good" source.

I used a personal copy for each user installed in his own local profile/path by using the version from PortableApps.com

SumatraPDF is very fast, very lightweight. Internally it uses MuPDF (a new PDF rendering part from the good guys of Ghostscript).


You can try Foxit Reader, see http://www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader/

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    I have read random reports online of Foxit Reader crashing terminal servers when printing. Any validity to that? Have you tried Foxit Reader on your TS? – NinjaBomb Oct 8 '10 at 13:42
  • No, I haven't. As for the crash - it would be very lame for Microsoft to be vulnerable to such things, so I won't believe this until I it is reproduced while I look. – AEP Oct 8 '10 at 15:31

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