Want to monitor RDP bandwidth by user on Windows Server 2012? You’re out of luck…

One of the neatest things our Remote Desktop Reporter tool can report on is total RDP Bandwidth consumed in each user session.  Historically, Microsoft has made this data accessible in their operating systems one of two ways:

  1. Through queryable Performance Counters associated with a particular user session
  2. Through the underlying Terminal Services API, also queryable by individual user session

As a result, we gather this information routinely for storage in Remote Desktop Reporter’s database and offer a few out of the box reports to break it down for system administrators.  We also use it in our freeware RDP Bandwidth Monitor Tool, which is part of our complimentary Remote Desktop Admin Toolkit.

You can imagine our surprise when we discovered that these metrics are flat out gone in Windows Server 2012.  Gone, you say?  Yes, entirely.

Terminal Services Session Counters in Windows Server 2008

Let’s first look at the Terminal Services Session counters in Windows Server 2008:

Screenshot from Windows Server 2008
“Add Counters” in Windows Server 2008.

As you can see, we can get RDP Bandwidth oriented information, such as the input/output bytes of a particular RDS Session, with both the compressed and non-compressed variants available.

But, Look at Terminal Server Session Counters on Windows Server 2012 . . .

Now, let’s look at the Terminal Server Session counters from a Windows Server 2012 box:

"Add Counters" screenshot from Windows Server 2012
“Add Counters” in Windows Server 2012.
"Add Counters" screenshot from Windows Server 2012
And something seems to be missing from Windows Server 2012 . . .

The very same RDP Bandwidth counters that were present in Windows Server 2008, and many previous versions, are now gone.

What About the Terminal Services API?

Certainly we can get this sort of information from those functions, right?  Nope.  Calling the appropriate function to obtain these metrics results in the function returning successfully, but with all of these counter values now zeroed out.

It’s like Microsoft literally removed a significant chunk of Performance Counter plumbing out of the RDS subsystem in Windows Server 2012.  We’ve tested both Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2, with exactly the same results.

We have a support ticket open with Microsoft, and the only information we’ve received to date is that “they have researched this and unfortunately the values are no longer supported.  The documentation will be updated accordingly.”

What About an Upcoming Windows Service Pack?

Currently we are requesting possible workarounds from Microsoft to get at this type of information in Windows Server 2012, and/or a possible commitment to add those counters back in an upcoming Service Pack.  We’ll update you with anything we hear in a subsequent blog post.

In the meantime, great RDS community, what’s your theory as to why these counters are missing?  Did the “plumbing changes” to RDS to add/expand RemoteFX in Windows Server 2012 cause the removal of these counters?  Was it a simple development oversight that slipped through QA?

Weigh in with your theories below or tweet us @RDPSoft.

RDPSoft Announces Support for Citrix XenApp Reporting and Monitoring

RDPSoft is pleased to announce support for Citrix XenApp reporting and XenApp monitoring in Version 1.2 of its flagship product, Remote Desktop Reporter.

As many Citrix administrators already know, Citrix XenApp servers create ICA sessions on demand when users connect through Citrix client software, such as the Citrix Receiver. These sessions can run alongside traditional RDP sessions on the same Windows server, and are visible from both the Citrix administration tools and the Microsoft Terminal Services Manager.

As a result, RDPSoft’s Remote Desktop Reporter can poll, store, and report on both RDP and ICA sessions completely transparently. All key reports, such as the User Productivity and User Session Activity reports, function absolutely the same, regardless of the protocol used to establish the session. So whether or not you use Remote Desktop Services or XenApp to benefit your teleworkers, Remote Desktop Reporter can audit much of their activity.

Given that many Remote Desktop and Citrix monitoring tools are priced based on concurrent users, it’s important to note that Remote Desktop Reporter is priced instead on the number of servers and workstations monitored, starting at only $199 per monitored server with volume discounts.

Citrix XenApp users, feel free to weigh in above in the comments section regarding the types of XenApp specific reports you need the most. Thanks!

** Citrix, XenApp, and the Citrix Receiver are registered trademarks of Citrix Systems, Inc.

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?