RDP Bandwidth Monitor Now Available

Recently, we added a new free tool to our Remote Desktop Admin Toolkit – the RDP Bandwidth Monitor!

Lots of terminal server admins want to monitor remote desktop bandwidth, so we fashioned a simple little utility to track the bandwidth consumed by one or more user sessions on one or more terminal servers. The full help on the tool is available here, but here are the basics on how it works:

Step 1 – Tell the RDP Bandwidth Monitor about which servers you want to view bandwidth statistics on, then click “Monitor.”  Of course, if you’ve already built an RDAT file with computer names for other tools in our Toolkit, those computer names should populate automatically.

Step 2 – Sit back, and watch all the RDP Traffic statistics update in the window.  You can control how frequently the terminal servers are polled for new bandwidth data, and even export the current bandwidth data to a CSV file for later review.  Our RDP Bandwidth Monitor tool also will conveniently aggregate bandwidth metrics by server in the lower listview for your convenience.

(click the above image for a higher resolution view)

Of course, if you’d like to collect this bandwidth data automatically so you can produce recurring reports, please download our full Remote Desktop Reporter solution.  Remote Desktop Reporter ver 1.2 currently ships with 3 reports that target RDP Bandwidth Consumption:

1.)   Bandwidth Consumption By Server (Daily)
2.)   Bandwidth Metrics By Server
3.)   Bandwidth Metrics By User

Here’s an example of the RDP Bandwidth Metrics By User Report:

Tracking Terminal Server Session Bandwidth
Sample Report – Session Bandwidth by User

(click the above image for a higher resolution view)

Click here to download the current version of the Remote Desktop Admin Toolkit, which includes the RDP Bandwidth Monitor.

Free Remote Desktop Administrator’s Toolkit Just Released!

RDPSoft is proud to announce the release of Version 1.0 of its completely free Remote Desktop Admin Toolkit!  More blog postings will follow soon regarding the individual tools in the toolkit.  Version 1.0 of the toolkit includes the following tools (click on each one’s name for a help tutorial on how to use it)

1.) Enable Remote Desktop Remotely

Quickly turn on Remote Desktop on your workstations and servers for the purposes of administration without having to ever leave your desk.

2.) Enable Remote Desktop Management on Workstations

Turn on Remote Desktop Management on your workstations so you can manage user sessions, processes, and more with Microsoft’s Terminal Services Manager or any RDPSoft’s tools.  Avoid that annoying “The specified computer cannot be reached.  Make sure that the computer is accessible and verify computer name.” error going forward.

3.) Remote Desktop User Session Manager

Quickly discover all the servers and workstations where a particular user has remote desktop sessions open.  From there, send popup messages to, disconnect, or logoff all of the sessions with a single click.  It’s also great for remotely locking the console session on an unlocked computer.

4.) Remote Desktop Process Manager

Have a hung or problematic app?  Quickly locate and terminate all instances of one or more applications on your servers and workstations with a single click.

We plan on updating our toolkit soon with even more Remote Desktop Management Tools, including a RDP Bandwidth Monitor tool, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, keep managing your remote desktops, and don’t forget to take a test drive of our comprehensive Remote Desktop Reporter solution.

Yahoo Decision On Telecommuting

Much has been made over the past few days regarding Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting at Yahoo! … personally, I think this is a poor decision, and will lead to some of Yahoo’s star performers bolting to Yahoo’s competitors who embrace teleworking cultures.

The reality is – SOME individuals do better working onsite in close collaboration with their team members. However, there are plenty of introverts out there who are much more productive when they can work in the sanctuaries of their home offices, away from the stresses of driving to work and dealing with the constant workplace interruptions and distractions. I wonder if Marissa has ever heard of the Myers-Briggs personality test? Not all of us are extroverts, Ms. Mayer.

The smart companies realize the inherent diversity of personality types and work behaviors, and put each employee in their best respective position to succeed. Then, the even smarter companies put a few safeguards into place so that they can audit teleworker productivity should they have reason to suspicion a problem. Our utility, Remote Desktop Reporter, excels at doing just that. For more on how to audit remote desktop sessions, refer to our previous blog posts here and here.

As is often attributed to Ronald Reagan, trust but verify. Trust that you made the correct hires in the first place, and empower them to be as productive as possible given their preferred working styles. Then verify that you made the correct decision.

Marissa, why don’t you trust your employees?

Terminal Server Logging on Workstations Is Important Too (Part 2)

In our previous post, Terminal Server Logging on Workstations Is Important Too, we discussed why the monitoring of Remote Desktop Sessions on workstations should not be neglected.  Now, let’s take a look at some of the reports built into Remote Desktop Reporter that can track that sort of activity.

The Terminal Server User Sessions Hourly Activity Report (click to view sample) is a wonderful way to track the hours of the day when a user is active in a particular Remote Desktop session on a particular workstation.  Paired with a filter that restricts the report data to a particular user, and a particular hour range in the day (e.g. normal business hours versus after hours, for instance), it’s easy to spot activity that is out of the ordinary.

Next, The Terminal Server Performance User Bandwidth Report (click again to view sample) provides you with RDP traffic statistics by user and server for each user session.  Both the total bytes transferred and the average number of bytes/sec over the Remote Desktop Protocol are displayed, so it is easy to pinpoint users who are consuming the most bandwidth in their sessions, and/or highlight a particular user session that used a much greater amount of bandwidth then most.

Finally, The Terminal Server Client Workstations and Addresses Report (click to view sample) displays all of the remote workstation names and IP addresses each Remote Desktop User is associated with.  Utilizing this report, you can quickly find out if your users are using non-corporate issued devices, or connecting from a previously unrecognized IP address.

 

Terminal Server Logging on Workstations Is Important Too

The traditional use case for reporting on Remote Desktop activity is to track the multitude of user sessions running simultaneously on a dedicated Terminal Server.  However, monitoring and tracking Remote Desktop activity on a workstation in many ways is just as important.

In the modern workplace, more and more companies allow their employees and contractors to access their work computers from home and other locations.  While there are numerous commercial solutions designed to allow employees to “take their desktop anywhere” – (Citrix’s XenDesktop immediately comes to mind) – not every organization has the extra budget to purchase additional software, so they instead rely on Microsoft’s built-in implementation of Remote Desktop on Windows workstations, paired up with a Firewall/VPN combo already protecting the corporate network.

In a typical setup, Worker X may need to work remotely for whatever reason (travel, flex time policies, etc), so they first connect into the corporate network using the a VPN connection across the firewall, and then fire up a Remote Desktop Client on their laptop or tablet to connect to their corporate workstation.

From here, an organization is very much in the dark unless they use a Terminal Services Logging and Reporting utility such as our Remote Desktop Reporter.  For instance…

1.)  What client device is Worker X using to connect to her corporate workstation?  Is it the company approved laptop with approved endpoint security solutions and encryption in place, or is it a personal laptop or tablet that happens to have an aftermarket RDP client installed…  Do you have any way of knowing?

2.)  How much bandwidth is Worker X using during the Remote Desktop session?  Is she streaming video across limited bandwidth over the firewall, using the highest quality color depth possible?  Is she transferring large files to or from her machine?  Does this jive with the network’s AUP (Acceptable Use Policy)?

3.)  Are these remote work sessions fruitful for Worker X?  Does the company have any way to audit or estimate the amount of time Worker X is actively working inside her session?  More importantly, is it fair to force high performing employees to work in the office when they could be more productive working from home, solely because your organization doesn’t have a way to audit their level of productivity?

4.)  Conversely, do you have employees who typically work 9-5 now suddenly accessing their systems outside of normal working hours (say between 12am and 3am at night)?  Are these sessions coupled with larger than normal amounts of data transfer over the RDP protocol?  Do you have an employee transferring sensitive data outside your network?

The above scenarios are just a few of the reasons why collecting and reporting on Remote Desktop session data from workstations is so vitally important.  In our next blog post, we’ll discuss a few of the reports found in Remote Desktop Reporter that can track the activity mentioned above.