How to improve Remote Desktop Protocol Performance

Posted February 1, 2011 by Ben in Windows 7, Windows networking

Improve your experience with Remote Desktop Protocol when accessing your Windows Terminal Services or Windows Desktop. This will help correct typing delays, for example.

Many people use Remote Desktop to access Windows Desktops every day. Many of us have been doing this for too long to remember. Nevertheless, most do not bother to look at the settings in the Remote Desktop Client to customize and improve the performance when working remotely.

This applies especially to connections made over the Internet, a VPN connection, or to a busy Terminal Server. Also, connections to Terminal Services from older WYSE terminals will be greatly improved.

Have you ever experienced severe typing delays? Read on…

1. Open the Remote Desktop Client. On Windows 7, simply hit the Windows key, start typing remote desktop, and hit enter. You can also find it under Programs > Accessories on most recent Windows versions.

2. In the “Display” tab (you’ll have to select “Options…”), crank the Color Depth down to 15 (aka “thousands”) or 16-bit depending on your preference. The lower the color settings the faster the connection.

3. In the “Local Resources” tab, un-check Printers and set Audio to “Do not play”. If you require the ability to print to your locally attached printer or need to hear audio, ignore my suggestions accordingly. Note that un-checking Printers is also especially useful to reduce the overhead involved with making the destination Terminal Server attempt to install your printers (and sometimes cause the spooler service to crash). The less additional “channels” (resources) that you connect the faster the connection.

4. In the “Experience” tab, un-check all options except Bitmap caching. All other options consume extra bandwidth, and offer little benefit for most users of Remote Desktop. This is possibly the most important change to make, as items such as “Themes” can quadruple the bandwidth consumption under the right circumstances.

5. Back in the “General” tab, enter your destination computername and select connect as usual. Enjoy the faster connection!

Note that, as mentioned, these settings also apply to WYSE terminals, but the means of getting to them is slightly different.

Of course, you can also do the same with your Mac if using the Microsoft “Remote Desktop Connection for Mac” Client. Just look under Preferences…

The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

  • Ravindran

    Nice post. It’s sad that very few people aware of it and put up with slow performance.

  • dajota

    Anyone know the typical usage numbers for using remote desktop for an hour?

    • HelpMe

      Without these changes, RDP uses 26kbps. I’ll let you do the math for an hour.

  • Amp

    Sometimes the color depth is locked and you can’t select less than 15bits.
    To solve this you can set the above mentioned settings, save the connection and then open the created file in a word processor like notepad.
    There you can edit the following line that further reduces the # of colors and change it to, for example, 8:
    session bpp:i:8

  • Ahmed Samir

    very useful post, thanks..

    • Bob

      Teamviewers pretty good. A bit faster than windows remote.

    • Nospam

      > Teamviewers pretty good. A bit faster than windows remote.

      No way.

  • Lindsay

    Not too sure what if Teamviewer is any better but I have been using RDP a lot lately and your tips DOES make it faster apparently.

    I have heard services renting VPS for online gaming or something, but how could it be? I mean the connection is still sooooo slow πŸ™

    • David s.

      The VPS you’re referring to are for hosting online gaming servers– you do not RDP into a PC and play the game, you use the VPS as the central host that all the gamers connect to to play together. This software is special-purpose and designed to quickly handle only the processing necessary to keep all the client PCs in sync.

  • Lindsay

    A slight update: Switched from 15k to 256 colors but didn’t look like there’s lots of improvements or anything.

  • jon

    The biggest improvement probalbby will be with Colors? However when I drop it down to 16-bit from 32-bit I was not able to do full-screen (it gives a scrollbar) had work with 24-bit color

  • Zain

    Very useful tips, I was wondering why the performance of my programmes was so harshly affected and now I know why. Note to self give the issue some thought rather than just assuming it’s not not-improvable. Thanks a lot for the tips!

  • tomuΕ›

    Total bull in the above article. Set the above as advised, test performance using a browser on some page with lots of graphics. Then set the settings the same as your desktop has – i.e. color depth to 32-bits, visual style to checked, acyually chcec all advantages πŸ˜‰ Now connect and test the performance πŸ˜‰ I get the best results using full advantages and 24-bit color depth. Regards!

  • edward fraser

    Can I just say one of the biggest thank yous ever ?

    For two years I have been working from the UK on a server in Australia and it has taken hours to do just simple things .

    Now I amde some simple changes and hey presto , I cant tell the difference betwen the two countries ,

    Thanks so much , I will proably get more sleep now .