I work remotely from home for several hours each week. In the last few weeks, my remote desktop connection has been virtually unusable for productive development. Both my workplace and my home connection are through the same ISP (Shaw Cable).

Shaw has a "speed test" application that I ran, and here are the results.

Home machine without VPN connected:

6.8Mbps down, 409 kbps up, 166 ping

Home machine with VPN connected and no remote desktop connection open:

885kbps down, 254 kbps up, 163 ping

Home machine with both VPN and remote desktop connected:

426 kbps down, 73 kbps up, 1406 ping

I ran the app several times for each setup and the results were consistent. The VPN uses the remote network gateway, so the slowdown when connecting to the VPN is expected - but what's up with my connection when I open a remote desktop??

I've already emailed the helpdesk at my office so presumably they'll look into it soemtime this week. But my question is - is this something I can mitigate from home? Anything I can change on my router, my local machine, or my VPN properties that would stop this from happening? Why is my overall connection speed going to crap when I connect with RD?

  • I have no idea to fix it so I'll leave a comment instead of an answer. Could it be that both the vpn and the remote desktop is encrypting your traffic? You should be fine with only encryption on the vpn.
    – Nifle
    Oct 11, 2009 at 22:35
  • @Nifle - RDP >= v6 does encryption.. and it appears you can't turn it off (though I may be wrong on that front)
    – warren
    Oct 14, 2009 at 4:34

2 Answers 2


RDP is not an encrypted protocol before v6 (see wikipedia).

However, if you're running at full color, with v6 or later, both the higher image quality and secondary encryption will impact you.

Also - if you're connecting to a Terminal Services box (rather than just your desktop), the server may be overloaded, and your throughput may be a secondary symptom of that.

So - my advice would be to lower the color setting, and make sure you're not forwarding anything in either direction (drives, sounds, printers, etc) you don't need.

You may also look at running wireshark or similar to see if any throttling is happening.

  • I would think this would be the reason. However, RDP does update the graphics via blocks than pixel by pixel. Also the server may be throttling updates not to overwhelm the client.
    – monksy
    Oct 12, 2009 at 4:08
  • 1
    Looks like the server was overloaded this weekend. Still strange that my entire connection goes to crap when RD is connected though.
    – womp
    Oct 13, 2009 at 19:38
  • Sometimes it's little things that add up :) ..I've not seen such a heavy impact personally except when a bunch of users are hitting terminal services all at once :)
    – warren
    Oct 14, 2009 at 4:33

You should do a path trace across the two cases.
Use traceroute to see the path and latencies along it.

I suspect that with VPN your path to the Internet is actually taking a route through your office network. That means, you go through the Internet (VPN) to your office network and get out through the office uplink to the Internet.

Just out of curiosity, what is the network speed you see when you are at work?

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