Viewing PDFs on Terminal Server (RDP)

Posted on 2007-11-23
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-21
Hi Experts,
We have recently deployed TS for our branch offices that are spread all over the world. They have 1-3Mbit lines and working with Terminal Server has improved user experience drastically. However, there is one bugging problem with PDFs.
Viewing PDFs over RDP is unbelievably slow and working with it is a huge annoyance! Refresh happens with massive delay, text is scrambled and sometimes renders it completely useless. We have lowered color depth, have set a small screen resolution and all that sorts of things but without any positive effect at all. it seems the way pdf screen data is being refreshed when scrolling the document is not appreciated by TS. All other applications and services run perfectly fine over RDP...

There must be a solution to this as many corporations use TS and have to view PDFs over TS. I just cant find any dedicated terminal capable PDF software nor is there any kind of helpful kb or tutorial on how to improve pdf usability on TS.

So is there any such software around and i just can't find it?
Is there a way to tinker with the screen refresh settings on acrobat or TS?
Is PDF over RDP a recommended solution at all? if not, what other options do we have?

If anyone could shed some light on this would be much much appreciated! Any expertish suggestions welcome!

Thanks, Stephen
Question by:it-maintenance
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LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:Cláudio Rodrigues
ID: 20340165
Are you using the latest Acrobat Reader for Windows Server 2003 (I think version 8.1.1)?
You mention links of 1 to 3 MBits. Is this for each user or you have multiple users over a 1MBit link for example? If that is the case, how many users per link? Are they printing over TS? Is there QoS for RDP on the link or it has to compete with other protocols like HTTP, RPC (for Exchange/Outlook), etc?

Claudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP
Windows Server - Terminal Services

Expert Comment

ID: 20342021
have u tried viewing the same in server with tc session ?

Author Comment

ID: 20350191
@ tsmvp: we use 8.1.1. there are typically around 4 users sharing a T1 or larger, there is no QoS configured and all traffic (including wafs and rpc) competes. users mainly try to view PDFs, print XLSs and use the ms crm over TS. everything works great the users say, but as soon as there's a lot of graphics (like moving ads or worst case a youtube video) involved it becomes unusable.

@sveashwar: not sure we talk the same language here...
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LVL 31

Accepted Solution

Cláudio Rodrigues earned 1500 total points
ID: 20358009
Well TS is not really meant to be used with applications with lots of animations. Flash, video, CAD, etc are typical examples of what should NOT be used on TS.
If your users are using TS for that, you are not using the technology the way it should be. If you still require TS AND all these fancy animations to coexist you will need to use a third party add-on like Citrix that has specific improvements for such cases.
PDFs, just to see them, should work though. As I said, with no traffic control/prioritization it will be almost impossible to guarantee decent TS performance.

Claudio Rodrigues
CEO, TSFactory Inc.

Microsoft MVP
Windows Server - Terminal Services

Author Comment

ID: 20364473
Thanks tsmvp, that's what I thought.

I'll have a network guru here tomorrow to setup proper QoS on our WAN, I hope to gain some performance.

We used to have Citrix in place but decommissioned it recently. I am considering to re-active the service and see if we can solve the issue this way if QoS won't help as expected.

I'll close this question and assign you the points, I don't have a solution but you have lead me in a new direction.

Expert Comment

ID: 21837592
This answer is of no real help.  I dug into this last night and believe I have found a partial solution.  If the original questioner or anyone else is interested, please let me know.

Author Comment

ID: 21844620
hi LD

we have implemented Citrix now to overcome the problems with TS. We don't need a solution to the above problem anymore, but we would still be interested in what you have found.


Expert Comment

ID: 22117615
Laserdesign, I'm interested in what you have found. Please share.

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