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Optimize dialin

Posted on 2005-05-17
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I have Windows 2003 SBS, we have a boat (ship actually) that fishes in the Bering sea. The boat needs to connect to our system to transfer files. Previously we were using our LInux firewall/server to connect to the system but we installed a new W2003 server and decided to have the boat connect to that server since we are now on Exchange for email. The I setup Exchange for pop3 access becasue the boat computer only has XP Home.  Testing in the office seemed to work well but when the boat's at sea the connection speeds are really, really bad. The interesting thing is that if the boat sends an email with even a tiny attachment to an internal email address it will come back with a "transport unavailable" message. They are able to send just messages without attachments and they are able to send attachments to an external yahoo account. I don't understand why it has problems with sending attachments to internal accounts. Rather than using email I setup a share on the server so they could just \\10.0.0.2\boat and copy files there but the window never comes up.  So, my first question is why the issue with sending attachments to an internal address but not an external one. 2nd, is there a way to optimize settings on the modem/ras? I can return to using the Linux server for connection though I would've thought a direct connection to the W2003 server would work better. Thanks.
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Question by:dpacheco
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 14021192
Hi dpacheco,

You really should be using RPC over HTTP instead of POP3, it's much better, more secure and works!

Secondly, SBS has Remote Web Workplace... so a remote user can log in and access many network resources.

Thirdly... there's always Outlook Web Access... again, much better than POP3.

It doesn't matter that a remote user has XP home, btw... that computer just can't be a member of the domain, that's all... but all of the above work just fine.

For more info on ALL of these things... click on START > Help & Support and then enter any of the items I mentioned into the Search box.
For an overview of these features, please see:  http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/evaluation/features/default.mspx

Good Luck!

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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by:dpacheco
ID: 14021425
OWA does work but the one thing about using Outlook or Outlook express is that they can create the email message, attach the file before they connect then just hit send. This saves precious seconds, these ship to shore connections are very expensive. OWA takes a while to come up with dialup connection, also means they have to take the extra steps to save incoming attachments before exiting OWA, generally it's faster to download the attachment as part of email than it is to save it manually.
Remote web workplace also does work but they'd need a workstation available to connect to, also more steps and more time consuming to connect, copying files is slow even on a broadband connection.
RPC over http requires Outlook 2003 or later, not possible on this trip.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 14024293
Outlook 2003's license is included with EXCHANGE now... so why not use it?

I agree about OWA.

Jeff
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by:dpacheco
ID: 14024319
The boat is now in the Bering Sea, how do you propose I get it to them? That is an option when they come back but that won't be for another 3-4 months. I need solutions now.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 14025129
Okay, first you have to forgive me... I TOTALLY thought you were just using euphamisms... and didn't take the boat/ship thing literally... now I will!  (oops -- I musta sounded pretty harsh... sorry).

So... let me go back to your original question.  Essentially, POP3 is the slowest method of retrieving email (overview here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/POP3).  Yahoo would probably be faster because the transfer is via HTTP over port 80.  A faster method would probably be via FTP using an accelerated ftp client such as 3Dftp (http://www.3dftp.com/fastspeed.htm).

In order for your remote users to use FTP you must install the service on your server, (it's not installed by default in SBS).  Here's a good step-by-step for that:  http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles_tutorials/Creating-Configuring-FTP.html

3DFTP is only about a 2MB download... so they should have no problem getting that and installing it.  By making it their default ftp client, you can just send links in your emails for the files you want to transfer... they should be something like ftp://servername.domain.com/boat/filename.zip

Hope that helps!

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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by:dpacheco
ID: 14026649
Right now they are having trouble even dialing out because of their location and voice communication is even difficult so I may not be able to try anything for a couple of days. They haven't been able browse to the ip address of the server so I'm not sure they would able to download a 2mb file but that sounds like a good solution, hopefully they will move into a better area soon. I'm also suspecting they may be having some hardware problems as their modem is connected via serial port to the satellite which does the dialing so it's not like a regular phone line. There's another computer on the boat, belonging to the coast guard, that uses the same connection and they don't seem to be having an issue. In fact, they use a switch box for the serial cable to switch between computers. I've told them to remove the switch and try a different cable but haven't heard back. Unfortunately we can not use the coast guard computer to do our transmissions.
I just found this out last night so until they can dial out I won't be able to have them do anything.
Once they are back I will upgrade them to Outlook 2003 but am wondering whether, if I upgrade to XP pro and they connect to the Exchange server instead of using pop3 or rpc over http if that will be faster. I'm thinking it would probably be slower. Thoughts on that?
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 14033159
If you want my honest opinion... the FASTEST way to access email in Exchange is via Outlook Mobile Access.  You can try it by opening IE and going to http://servername/oma  It's a text only email version... take a look.
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by:dpacheco
ID: 14033359
The bigger problem here is that they can not get connected at a fast enough speed to do anything. They've been calling in from sea for several years but was to a Linux box with a different modem. Now, even when they're able to connect it's too slow to do anything, they get disconnected and the phone line gets hung up so that it's busy and the connection has to be reset.  I'd still like some input about ways to optimize the dialin connection. It may be that we'll have to go back to an older modem or use the Linux server.
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Accepted Solution

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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy earned 375 total points
ID: 14033797
I doubt it's the server... more likely just modem settings.
What model modem are you using on your SBS?  And, what was the one on the Linux server?

FYI here's info on obtaining faster throughput:  http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/windowsserver2003/library/ServerHelp/a6045c23-79bf-4964-a8b5-8cc802b4f264.mspx

Also, this is a list of good modem tweaks:  http://www.beemerworld.com/tips/contweak.htm

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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Author Comment

by:dpacheco
ID: 14035727
SBS is an internal Conexant V.90, we were previously using an external US robotics 56k. I think we'll just try us robotics but I'll check out that info, thanks.
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Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 14037627
That may be your problem... if the modem on the boat is an older one it's sometimes better to use the same on your server.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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by:dpacheco
ID: 14819811
Not quite sure whether or how to award points here. The original question was how to make the connection faster/better, some people were telling me to download email differently, which does not address the connection issue. The problem turned out to be and issue with the land to sea satellite connection. Techsoeasy seemed to give the most useful information though none of his suggestions worked. Help?
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LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 14827410
I never did hear if they tried the Outlook MOBILE access (http://servername/oma) because even with spotty connections, that usually works pretty well since it's designed to work over cellular networks (definitely spotty in San Francisco).

As for C grades... I wonder why those are even allowed... if the answer is considered a C, it obviously didn't answer the question.  The only time I think Bs are valid are in cases like this... (although per dpacheco's remarks... it was a problem due satellite connection).  Even so... the optimization options I suggested would be even more usefull now that the connection issue has been addressed.

Regarding internal address vs external address... I guess I described WHY it was a problem, and offered ftp as an alternative... but since it wasn't then I figured staying with Yahoo! mail was the best thing since it IS faster than POP3 or IMAP mail.

All good points though... which is what helps make a B answer into an A.  :-)

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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