Why can't I connect reliably to a Windows Server?

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Problem

I installed Splashtop Streamer on my Windows Server. It's powered on but I cannot connect to it. The Splashtop Business app or the Splashtop web console tells me the server is offline.

[This problem has been resolved. Please download and install version 3 of Splashtop streamer for Windows. See 8/27 update below for more details.]

Reason

Splashtop Streamer was originally architected with individual users in mind. It runs within the context of an individual Windows account. This enables multiple users sharing a PC to have individual streamer setting in their individual Windows accounts. However, this architecture poses some problems on a Windows Server.

When the Windows account is changed (due to a logout, login, or switch user event), streamer shuts down and restarts in the new context. The Splashtop Business app will automatically attempt to re-connect. This usually succeeds on a Windows workstation. But on a Windows Server, where multiple accounts may be in use simultaneously (local session plus RDP sessions), streamer becomes unable to respond to remote connection requests as its context gets switched out. The server then appears as offline to the Splashtop web console.

Splashtop does work fine for those customers where their Windows Servers have the streamer installed in the console session and no RDP sessions are spawned dynamically.

We recognize the criticality of this limitation and we're fixing it. We plan to have the fix available in May.

Workaround

[This problem has been resolved. These workarounds are no longer necessary. Please download and install version 3 of Splashtop streamer for Windows. See 8/27 update below for more details.]

Please do not install Splashtop Streamer from inside a RDP session.

Install Splashtop Streamer directly in the console session (i.e. locally at the server or remoted into the server's console session using another remote desktop tool).

At this point, you should be able to see the server online and connect to it via the Splashtop Business app.

The server should remain online and accessible as long as there are no RDP sessions.

Note that, even if you don't anticipate RDP sessions being established with this server, you may want to disable RDP anyways. We have come across several cases of network malware that continuously probe Windows Servers for RDP connectivity. Such probing activity also switches the Windows account context and prevents the streamer from working properly. For these cases, disabling RDP or changing the default RDP port will allow Splashtop to work normally.

What's next

We are working on changes to the Windows streamer so it binds with Windows at the service level, rather than with individual Windows accounts. This will enable a session in progress to stay uninterrupted as Windows logs in, logs out, or switches user. It will also enable you to reliably remotely access a Windows Server's console, regardless of other RDP sessions that may be happening.

We plan to have the fix available in May. If you're interested in helping us with early beta testing, please send an email to beta@splashtop.com. We'd really appreciate your help!

Update (5/27) - Thanks to all of you who signed up to help us beta test. It is nearing the end of May and we owe you an update. We've gone through several rounds of internal testing on our alpha-level releases. A beta-level release for external testing should arrive within several weeks. We will send that out to all of you who signed up for beta testing. Apologies it has taken longer than originally promised.

Update (6/25) - The beta instructions started going out last week. We're excited with the feedback that's already coming in. If you'd like to help us beta test and didn't receive the instructions, please write to beta@splashtop.com. Thank you!

Update (6/29) - Beta testing is going well, with many of you reporting much improved connection reliability on servers and workstations. Thanks for all your help. Below is a running list of the issues found with the beta build. Fixes will be in the next beta build.

  • Performing a file transfer may crash the streamer.
  • Streamer window may appear in a RDP desktop or app session.
  • Splashtop Business Windows app may crash when the remote computer restarts or switches Windows accounts during a remote session.

Update (8/27) - The new streamer is now officially released! It is versioned at 3.0.0.2. It is now the default download as the deployment streamer.

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Big thanks to the many of you who beta tested and found bugs for us. If you run into issues with this streamer, please call our support line or file a support ticket, and we'll jump on them.

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