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Cisco RV042 Router and Linksys VPN Client Performance with Remote Desktop

Posted on 2009-07-05
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Hi,

I am looking for help with a VPN performance issue using remote desktop.  Here is the setup information I am using:

Remote Site: Cisco RV042 VPN router also serving DHCP for all of the computers behind it.  From the router I am going into a small 16 port 10/100 unmanaged Netgear switch.   There are three specific computers I am trying to access with the remote desktop.  One of them is running XP Pro SP3 and the other two are Vista Business 32-Bit.  The internet connection at this remote site is a broadband DSL with 512kbps up and 6mbps down.  I have checked the actual speed and I am getting an average of 440 up and about 3mbps down.

The client side:  I am using the Linksys VPN Client software that came with the router to make the tunnel.  The machine I am using is very fast and the internet connection is: 3 Mbps Up and 12.5 Mbps Down.  I check the actual speed and I am getting an average of 2.8Mbps Up and 6Mbps down.

Router Configuration:  I am using most of the default settings with the router and have created a tunnel to connect with.  I have tried changing the MTU settings from auto to manual with different values from 1430 to 1500 but the performance has not improved.  

Problem:  I make a connection thru the tunnel no problem and remote into all three of these computers.  I have used our accounting software on one computer and had decent performance.  The problem starts when any graphic intensive page is opened ( i.e. Internet Explorer ) Even just opening up to the default home page of Google takes a long time to render the page.

Things I have tried:  I have scaled back all of the settings in the remote desktop client on my machine to try to improve performance.  We currently use gotomypc.com to access these machines and have good response and performance from them.  Of course the gotomypc.com client does not display in full resolution like the remote desktop client.  I tried to use the included windows VPN connection client but couldn't get it to work.  One thing I have noticed is that under my network connections list, I now have a  "Cisco VPN Connection" connection that is disabled.  I have tried to enable it and then connect with the VPN client but it fails to connect.  If I disable this connection, the VPN connection will work.  I did not add this connection to the network connection list and I assume it is something that was created with I installed the software.  On another note, I do have the Cisco VPN Client 5.0.03.0530 installed on my computer and I use it to connect to a corporate network.  I made sure that this client was not running when I use the Linksys VPN Client.  I don't think having both of them installed on the computer is the problem but I could be wrong.  

Questions:  I guess my first question is do I have enough bandwidth at my remote site (512Kbps) to support using the remote desktop connection at a decent speed? Are there some settings on the router I could try to change to improve performance?  Is the 10/100 switch at the remote site sufficent for the network or should I consider 1000 switch and network?  I can remote into the computers at the remote site across the network and don't have any performance problems then.  I have an option of increasing our bandwidth at the remote site to 1Mbps Up and 10Mbps Down if that would help.  I having some networking knowledge but it is limited.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Brian
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Question by:Darvex
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by:sykojester
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You do have enough bandwidth for using remote desktop.  Changing out the switch from 100MBit to 1Gbit will make no difference as that's only for connections on the internal network.  You would still be limited to 512kbit upstream of the DSL connection.  

When using a VPN you will loose some bandwidth due to the encryption tunnel.  You may want to test the connection speed via the VPN.  I have the same router model you do, but I do not use the Linksys/Cisco VPN client as I found it to be garbage.  I have a Windows 2003 Server on the back end to handle my VPN connections.

My best suggestion would be to test the bandwidth while connected to the VPN to see how much loss you're getting due to the VPN tunnel.  You could also do a port forward to ONE of the client machines for port 3389 (Remote Desktop) and connect directly to it (not via the VPN) to see if that elevates the problem and that could tell you if the VPN connection is the issue.
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by:Darvex
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Hi,

Thanks for the quick response.  I setup a port forward for the 3389 port and connected to the router using just the remote desktop.  The performance was about the same.  I did run a bandwidth test while connected with the VPN tunnel.  The results I got back were surprising.  The upload speed only averaged about 124Kpbs and the download speed dropped to 1.2Mpbs.  Is this normal for a VPN connection?  I do have concerns about the quality of the VPN client I am using as it has no options for configuration at all.  I have read a lot about it and the general consensus seems to be that is it not good.  I wonder if I got another of these routers and did a site to site VPN if I could get better performance.  Any thoughts on this?

Thanks,
Brian
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by:Darvex
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I had another thought about this problem that I wanted to share.  I am behind another Netgear VPN router so I thought it might be causing some problems.  I by passed this router and connected the cable modem directly to my computer and tested the bandwidth during the tunnel session on the remote site.  It came back the same slow speed so I don't think the Netgear router I am using is the problem.
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by:sykojester
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I don't know the actual averages in speed reduction for a VPN connection, but I do know that you lose speed due to the overhead used to encrypt all the packets for the tunnel.  I also know the Linksys client isn't that great at all.

Based on everything you have said I would say upgrading your bandwidth would be best based on the following:

-You tested doing remote desktop directly to a client machine (not via the VPN) and stated the quality was about the same.  You also said that gotomypc works fine, but it auto adjusts quality settings for lower quality (whether it be disabling or lowering resolutions for background, images, & overall desktop experience), yet this was not acceptable.

You can lower the quality of your desktop experience via Remote Desktop client, however you want the best quality which requires more bandwidth.

Your Netgear VPN router sounds like it's fine & I would not worry about it.
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by:Darvex
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Thanks for the information.  I am working with our internet service provider to see if they can reproduce the problem on their end.  I'll post again when I have more information.
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by:Darvex
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The ISP worked with me to see if they could reproduce the problem.  They used a regular DSL circuit like we are using an a Cisco concentrator.  The speeds they were getting were very good and the difference between the 512Kbps and 1Mbps upload speeds were minimal.  This leads me to believe the problem is not with the speed of the connection now.

One of our employees that needs to connect using this VPN ran some test for me.  He uses the same ISP that we use at the office.  I had him use the remote desktop connection client he has on XP to connect directly to the computer that is behind our VPN router ( I just did a port forward for the 3389 that RDC uses) instead of making a VPN tunnel.  He didn't have any trouble with the speed or performance when he connected in this manner.  I then asked him to create a tunnel with the VPN client I gave him and then remote desktop connect to all three computers that we need to access.  One machine is an XP box and the other two are Vista business.  He didn't have any problems with speed when he accessed the XP box and one of the Vista machines.  The other Vista machine had the speed problem that I am experiencing at home.

After all of this, I thought that the problem might be on my end so I setup of my router to allow a RDC to access my machine at home.  I had a user that was on a completely different ISP than what I am using at home and what we are using at the office connect to my machine.  He had no problems with speed or performance.  

I don't know what to think about the situation now.  In summary I have one Vista machine that is slow performance wise for one user that is using the same ISP and I have a problem with all three machines not performing well using both a VPN tunnel and a direct connection to the machines on my end.  Does anyone have any ideas on what I should try next?

Thanks,
Brian
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by:Darvex
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I am still trying things but I am still running into problems.  We did increase our DSL speed to 1Mbps up and 10Mbps down but I haven't seen any improvement on my end.  I am thinking that the problem is with the router settings and no necessarily with the VPN settings on the router.  This is because I am see that same slow performance when I just remote into a computer thru the port forwarding on the router that I have setup.  I am thinking about trying a different router just to see if I have a setting or configuration problem with the RV042.  Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
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by:Darvex
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I came across another issue that might be related to the problems I am having.  I took the port forward off of the router for the remote desktop connection.  For some reason, I can still remote into the machine that I had setup with the port forward even though the router doesn't show that the port is forwarding.  I tried rebooting it to make sure that the changes were updated but it still allows the connection to the computer behind the router.  Does anyone know why this would be that way?
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sykojester earned 500 total points
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There's a screen for port forwarding & another one for firewall rules.  They work independently & port forwards do not show up under firewall rules (in my experience with this model).

Verify in both the port forwarding & the firewall that there is nothing allowing 3389 inbound.
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by:Darvex
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That was the problem with the port forwarding I was having.  I changed the firewall rule and that did the trick.  Thanks for your help with this.  I will continue to work on the performance problem on my end but everything seems to be working correctly for the other users now.

Thanks,
Brian
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