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Remote Desktop Connection Stops Responding when connecting to Windows Server 2008 Terminal Services in Remote Administration Mode

Posted on 2008-10-05
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Last Modified: 2013-11-21
When connecting to  Windows Server 2008 (Standard) Terminal Services in Remote Administration mode with Remote Desktop Client, the desktop starts to load, then stops with the error "Explorer.exe has stopped responding". Three options are given: (1) search for a solution and restart explorer.exe, (2) close explorer .exe, and (3) wait for explorer.exe to respond. Selecting any of the options results in no change. This happens whether the connection is made with the latest version of the Remote Desktop Connection client from Windows Vista SP1 and Windows XP Pro SP3, or with the older version of the Remote Desktop Connection client from  Windows 2000 Pro SP4.

This started happening suddenly after working without a problem for three weeks after the server was installed. I have been unable to correlate an event (such as updates installed) with this problem starting to occur.

Once a remote desktop session is hung, I am unable to log on from the console and must resort to turning off the power and restarting the server to be able to log on to a console session. Also,  connections to external USB drives are lost, so scheduled backups do not execute.

There are no errors or warnings in either The System Log or the Application log.

I have checked the settings in Terminal Services on Windows Server 2008 and on the various clients. The clients are set for full screen display, the highest color resolution, and a broadband connection experience. TS Gateway is set to automatic detection. Authentication is set to "Connect and don't warn me". The server is set to override client settings. Idle sessions are set to be disconnected in 2 hours. Disconnected sessions are set to be ended in 10 minutes. In this situation the sessions are never ended.

I have tried reducing the color resolution, the experience connection settings and the display size without success.

Any help will be appreciated. Thanks.
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Question by:rjoyce0607
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Author Comment

by:rjoyce0607
ID: 22646354
Some additional information: This server is also a domain controller and is hosting Exchange Server 2007 SP1. When the Remote Desktop Connection and the console sessions are hung, network services are still accessible, including e-mail, and file and printer sharing.
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by:ecsrd
ecsrd earned 100 total points
ID: 22646440
Exchange should not be run on a domain controller - without getting into a whole lot of detail, basically Exchange 2007 is most likely using up all available resources on the system so the login authentication is unable to complete before it times out.
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Author Comment

by:rjoyce0607
ID: 22646555
Thanks for responding. Resources do not appear to be a problem here. There are adequate memory and CPU resources available, even during peak usage hours, before the hang occurs. Up to about a week ago, there were no problems with remote desktop connections. The authentication does complete. The hang occurs while the desktop is loading, such that part of the desktop, usually the task bar and the background, is displayed, but nothing else. Unfortunately, I can't access the Task Manager after the hang occurs to check resources, and the Performance Monitor also hangs, so I can't see what has happened to the memory usage after the hang. I have found KB953535 which provides a hotfix for a memory leak which results in running out of paged pool memory after many SSL connections are established. Since most users on this computer use OWA or Outlook Anywhere to connect, I think this hotfix is worth a try.
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Accepted Solution

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rjoyce0607 earned 0 total points
ID: 22681808
Applying Hotfix 953535 did improve the situation slightly. Although the desktop would still not load in a console or RDP session, I was able to bring up the Task Manager and determine that ESCRD is correct, the Exchange processes were consuming most of the available physical memory, particularly the STORE.EXE process. I could also determine that backups were not executing and some incoming e-mail messages were not being processed. There may have been more impacts that I never specifically identified.

Armed with that knowledge, I was able to determine that this results from the architecture design of Exchange Server 2007, in particular the fact that the growth of the ESE cache is not constrained. Although the Exchange Server 2007 includes a procedure to limit the cache size, this is not recommended. Instead, thanks to a post by EHUBER on MSExchange.org, the following procedure solved the problem:
1. Update Exchange Server 2007 to SP1.
2. Apply Exchange Server 2007 SP1 Rollup #2 (I actually had already installed SP1 Rollup #4)
3.Set the page file on the system drive to equal the amount of physical memory.
4. Set a second page file on another drive to equal 1.05 times the amount of physical memory.
5. Restart the server.
Note that this procedure applies whether Exchange is running on Windows Server 2003 SP2 or Windows Server 2008 SP1. However, if Exchange is running on Windows Server 2003 SP2, you should also install Hotfix 938486 to the OS to correct a memory trimming problem.

Once I completed the above procedure, the peak physical memory usage settled at about 85% of the total physical memory installed, leaving enough for console sessions, remote desktop sessions, backups and other processes. Interestingly, Pages/sec are now at a very low level.


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