2003 Terminal server SLOOOOOOOWWWWW!

Tony Turner
Tony Turner used Ask the Experts™
I have a Windows 2003 SP2 server that I use as a terminal server for about 18 people.  The server is a Dell Poweredge 2800 dual 3.0 gig Xenon,  8 gig ram, RAID 5 configured with 4 15K SCSI drives (3 for the array and a hot spare).

The server is running as a straight "Workgroup" server with no AD.

They use Microsoft office 2003 and a custom written .Net/ Access/VB/SQL program but the SQL is located on its own server.

The issue I’m having is slowness. The terminals seem to just hang as if locked up then start working again. When I look at the processes, the machine doesn’t seem to be working very hard with the processors loping along at just over 50%. When I look at PERFMON the green line (Avg. Disk Queue Length) is slammed to the top and the blue line (pages/sec) is mostly pegged to the top with a few bounces up and down in between.

Not sure what to check or how to find out what processes or users are using that much disk resource. Do any of you guys have any suggestions on how to troubleshoot this issue? I’m open to almost anything at this point.

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Due to that amount of memory I am assuming that you are running a 64-bit OS.  If not, that would be one problem.  Is the terminal server slow when accessing only 1 terminal session?  How is the memory usage?  As you have mentioned, the HDs are being slammed.  One issue may be with the RAID itself.  RAID 5 although it is great with redundancy it is not great for writing data.  Perhaps there is an issue with the SQL server.  How are the resources on that machine?
Tony TurnerIT Manger


patch575, I'm running the 32 bit OS but it's Enterprise Edition so it can handle that much RAM.

It's fine with just one person is on the Server but goes down hill fast when I load it up. The SQL server is the same Dell 2800 and the resource usage is REALLY low on it.

I think the problem is the drives or controller. Or it may be how the program is utilizes the resources. I just don't know how to go about pinning it down. Is there ea utility that will tell me or something like that?

This server worked well a couple of years ago and has only gotten bad in the last six months or so. I moved half the users off to another box and it's still slow.
One issue we haven't addressed is that it could be a network issue, but leaning toward the HDs.  Have you checked for errors on the switches?  Are all users local?  Have you looked at the HDs?  RAID controllers should have utilities.  Have you checked the status of the HDs for any errors?  I am assuming the users on the other box are functioning fine.
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If you are using Enterprise 32-bit you may be doing more harm than good (that is usually the case). Even though it does address more than 4GB RAM, it uses PAE for that what has a side effect on how much memory apps like Office will use (overhead). Secondly the fact it sees 8GB does NOT fix the 2GB Kernel limit imposed with 32-bit OSs, that is a CRITICAL problem on TSs. You may be running out of that before you run out of RAM.
64-bit does NOT have the 2GB Kernel limit.
Another common issue is CTFMON.EXE. Is this process running? If it is, use NTFS permissions to DENY access to anyone except Admins and see how it goes.
Also take a look at this article (many things here apply):

Finally what is on your boot.ini?

Cláudio Rodrigues
Microsoft MVP - Remote Desktop Services
Citrix CTP
Tony TurnerIT Manger


Thanks for the replies. This is a production machine that is used 24X7 so I'm having to do my testing little bits at a time. I'll post what I know after I do  little more testing.
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