Experience slow screen refresh on a Windows Server 2003 or 2008?

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Problem

(Note that this issue does not happen on Windows Server 2012.)

For Windows streamer version 3.0.4.5 or earlier:
When you type a key or click a button during a remote session, the screen doesn't update until tens of seconds or even several minutes later.

For Windows streamer version 3.0.6.2 or later:
During a remote session, screen updates are delayed by a few seconds and cursor keeps flashing. CPU utilization is also unusually high at 25-50%, even on a fast, multi-core CPU.

Version 3.0.6.2 introduced an optimization that reduces the delay on servers with low video memory from potentially minutes down to a few seconds, so such a system can at least be operable. It is still necessary to apply one of the two workarounds below so your server can operate the most efficiently.

Reason

If this is happening, it is an indication of Splashtop not having enough video memory to work with. For Splashtop to work efficiently, the computer should have at least 256MB of video memory. This is easily met by most PCs and off-the-shelf graphics cards nowadays (where 1GB+ is not uncommon). But it may not be met by many servers out there where 8MB or 16MB of video memory is still the norm.

The reason why Splashtop needs more video memory than traditional remote desktop tools is we use a video-based approach to encode and transmit the screen. That technology is key to achieving our performance goal of enabling users to feel as if they're still sitting in front of their computers (given sufficient hardware and network capabilities, of course).

However, this approach does mean we tax the graphics hardware more heavily.

You can run Windows's built-in DxDiag.exe to find out how much video memory the computer has. This support article shows where to look in DxDiag for the relevant info.

Network bandwidth is not likely the reason when the delay is so drastic. Insufficient network bandwidth may result in delays of up to several seconds, but usually no more. If you want to confirm whether network bandwidth is an issue, you can temporarily reduce the computer's resolution to 1024x768 or turn on smooth mode (in the Splashtop Business app), to see whether speed improves. These tests will not make a difference if the slowness is due to insufficient video memory.

Generally, Splashtop should be fairly responsive with 1.5 - 2Mbps of uplink from the computer being remotely accessed.

Workaround

If the computer indeed does not have enough video memory, there are two proven workarounds available:

1. Disable hardware acceleration of the display adapter on the computer

This support article shows how you can do that.

This workaround has worked well for many users. For others, disabling hardware acceleration is not viable due to logistics or due to other workloads on the computer.

2. Install a mirror driver (reboot required)

With a mirror driver is installed, the Splashtop Streamer will use a different way to process the screen information.

Splashtop Streamer v3.1.2.0 and newer:

Open the Streamer program from the Start Menu -> All Applications -> Splashtop Remote -> Splashtop Streamer

Then click on the "Advanced" tab and scroll down to click on the "Install Mirror Driver" button.  A UAC window confirming the install will popup.  Click Install to continue.  The Button will change to "Uninstall Mirror Driver" when complete.

Splashtop Streamer v2.6.5.10 to v3.1.0.2, manual install.  (Tutorial Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSn8DmYxSiA)

  • Download and install the mirror driver from below (driver.zip).
  • Unzip driver.zip
  • Open a cmd window with "Run as administrator"
  • Run the install.bat in the appropriate folder (xp/xp64 folder if you have XP or Server 2003; vista/vista64 folder if you have Vista, Windows 7, or Server 2008)
  • Reboot

This workaround has been proven on a variety of HP and Dell servers with 8 or 16MB of video memory.

Note 1: If you had hardware acceleration turned off as a workaround for the slow performance, feel free to turn it back on after installing the mirror driver.

Note 2: If you do experience such drastically slow response times, but there is sufficient video memory, we would appreciate if you can let us know. There may be other causes that we aren't aware of. Please file a support ticket including the DxDiag output.

Note 3: There are two limitations when using Mirror driver. Please click into the link for more details.

Update (6/29/2015) - Switching between multiple monitors is now supported by default in Splashtop Streamer version 2.6.5.10 and later.

Update (3/25/2016) - Described the partial optimization added in version 3.0.6.2 of Windows streamer. Note that one of the two workarounds above is still necessary for systems with low video memory.

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Djonathan

    Is it possible to add a video card to a server to cure this issue?

  • Avatar
    Marck

    The responsiveness is redonkylous. Same server with teamviewer I am able to easily type in my password and login quickly. With splash, entering password is already a huge task. I was very exciting when I saw the easy of installation the agent through links, but I am very disappointed at the moment. I am debating whether I should by the much more expensive 710$ TeamViewer, or the annual Splash 60$ version. The price difference is huge, but as of now, this is unworkable.

  • Avatar
    Djonathan

    @Marck, You are right, for a lot of servers, this product is never going to work, as there will not be sufficient video memory. Period. That is why I asked if a video card could be added to a server to increase memory for the Splashtop streamer to work. I also emailed to Splashtop to get on a beta of the Streamer that uses a service rather than a User login to work. I did get an email back that said they hoped to have a Server appropriate streamer out in 1.5 to 2 months from now. That streamer will not solve the need for 256 mb of video memory. (my server has 8mb), so Splashtop may never be useful for that use. Also, as you can see by looking around in the question forums, there is very rarely any response from a Splashtop employee. These issues mean that the company probably has very little technical resources on staff, and cannot respond to customer service issues. Best to just move on....

  • Avatar
    Support

    @Marck & Djonathan,

    Apologize for the issue, and just want to know if the workaroud (disable hardware acceleration https://support-splashtopbusiness.splashtop.com/entries/26382734) works in your case? And for Djonathan, we believe adding a video card will also help. We do not encounter similar issue on a Server with enough video memory.

  • Avatar
    Support

    We’re working on a potential solution to the issue of extremely slow Splashtop performance when there is less then 256MB of video RAM available on the target (Streamer) machine. In the past, one workaround to this issue has been to turn off hardware acceleration on the target machine. But we now have a new workaround in early beta which does not require turning off hardware acceleration. We’d love to get some help testing it out to see if it is a viable solution.

    Please send us a note at beta-speed@splashtop.com with your Splashtop account email address and/or best contact email, and we’ll get you the test instructions.

    Thanks!

  • Avatar
    Support

    Beta test of our new solution went well. (Thank you to all those involved!) The new solution successfully solved the performance issue across a variety of HP and Dell servers with 8 to 16MB of video memory. We've now made the solution official and published it above, as an alternative to the "disable hardware acceleration" workaround.

    If you run into any issues with this solution, or if the performance does not improve with either workaround, please let us know and file a support ticket.

  • Avatar
    Ghogge

    I was experiencing lag on Windows Server 2012 R2 running on a HyperV virtual machine that was allocated 256 MBs of video memory. I installed the Vista 64 driver and the results were substantial. I just did it about half an hour ago. So, I don't know if there will be any unintended consequeces. I will update if I run into anything.

     

    -GH

     

     

  • Avatar
    Drivas

    I had this same problem with one of my client servers. Win Server 2008 R2 (Dell). So after some research what I found out was this server has a MATROX video card. When the client ran additional windows updates it updated the matrox driver as well. After the install Splashtop was almost unresponsive.

    The fix is to remove the matrox driver and just use the "Generic Standard VGA driver". Once I made this change everything was back to normal. I don't believe this is a problem with Splashtop per say, but with matrox video cards.

    I hope this helps.

  • Avatar
    Support

    @Drivas,

    Using "Generic Standard VGA driver" you might lose some functions in Splashtop, the performance of remote session might also be affected.

    We still suggest that you could use the mirror driver  workaround we mentioned in this article, it will solve the issue and keep most of the functions at the same time.

  • Avatar
    Lee337phx

    the driver worked miracles on a Dell PowerEdge with an ATI E1000 card (16MB)...faster now with ST for remote access than LMI was (which also had a mirror driver).

  • Avatar
    Support

    @ Lee337phx,

    Glad to see it helps!

  • Avatar
    Lee337phx

    I am, however, finding that after a day or two, when I connect to the machine that has the mirror driver installed, that I am connecting to a black screen (nothing workable, just a black screen with a mouse moving around)....I have to RDP to the machine, from another one - once I establish an MS Remote Desktop, the picture usually returns to the mirror driver machine (showing a login screen that indicates the user currently logged in from the other remote screen)...I can then "X" out of the RDP session, and log in via Splashtop on the mirror-driver machine...and all is well, until tomorrow....I also note that at other times (when the RDP workaround doesn't seem to work), that there seems to be a disconnect between the SRService and SRManager - If I stop the SRService in services.msc, SRmanager (and it's child processes SRServer and SRFeature) continue to run...if I restart SRVervice, I get two copies of SRManager, SRServer, and SRFeature listed in Task Manager....(a working Splashtop connection, and some remnant zombie components). Hope that gives you guys enough to go on - I'm thinking it all has something to do with the mirror driver (as I believe it is also intended to create the black-screen on a local hardware machine, while being able to only see it through the splashtop remote session)?

  • Avatar
    Support

    @ Lee337phx,

    We don't know the root cause at this moment, but please help to follow the steps below then see if the issue still happens:

    1. Uninstall the mirror driver.
    2. Establish a remote session then see if there is the black screen issue.
    3. Make sure there is no black screen issue then re-install the mirror driver, reboot the computer.
    4. Establish a remote session again then see if there is still black screen issue.
  • Avatar
    Support

    OK, I installed the mirror driver on Widows 2003 Dell server, rebooted and sure enough the response time for opening apps/programs and typing was much quicker. But the screen is color/contrast is nearly unusable. See attach screen shot.

  • Avatar
    Lee337phx

    that screen looks like the pixel resolution is pretty high, reducing the color pallet due to low res video card....I have noted that the remote session "tries" to match the resolution of the connecting/controlling machine (particularly if the remote window is put into full-screen size on the controlling machine)....even if the target can't handle the remote resolution...

    I have been keeping the remote sessions in a "medium" (not full screen) window, allowing the target to determine the displayed attributes...

    I'm not saying that it should be that way...just what I've been experiencing, and working around...

  • Avatar
    Rick.Cassel

    I had the issue with E1000 ATI Video card on 2008R2 machine, driver was from 2008 and no updates available.   I switched to standard VGA windows driver,  rebooted and it works perfectly now.  Cautious installing mirror driver on a production server for risk of possible blue screen or other incompatibility with Remote Desktop Users.

  • Avatar
    Chris

    I have an issue that looks like it is related, but in my case I get NO screen updates EVER after initial connection. The mouse clicks do get through to the remote, but the screen doesn't refresh at all. I can login through LogMeIn and everything is fine on the remote. Then I disconnect and reconnect with Splashtop and I get the current screen on the remote displayed, but it will never update.

    This is the only system out of  9 migrated so far, and it's by far the oldest. It is a Windows Vista PC and has an antiquated Nvidia Quatro NVS 290 GPU with an astonishing 256Mb of memory. My client installed this years ago when the internal VGA interface failed.

    I did try to install the provided "driver.zip" file and it did nothing to help. I think it installed properly as I saw no errors. Anybody know a way to verify that it is installed properly on this system?

    My client won't be taking this system out of service any time soon and I would like to avoid replacing the video card. I might not even be an issue with the card? Maybe Vista? Any ideas?

    Thanks.

    *anxious to logout of LogMeIn

  • Avatar
    Administrator

    Using a HP elite 7500 series (streamer) i have the same issue. i can't find the "disable hardware accelleration" after a windows 10 upgrade.

    I found a low speed increase if i set "performance" on intel video card settings.

    I think that  could be useful if splashtop streamer automatic adjust the speed level and set this issue during the automatic install.

    All the  Office computer in my company have low than 256K video graphic memory

     

    thank you!

  • Avatar
    Support

    One workaround that works on my Windows SBS 2011 server with Matrox is to remote in using RDP and then establish an SOS connection.  Then the performance is normal.

  • Avatar
    Jim

    I was having significant latency issues with a Windows 2008R2 Terminal Server. The remote access was nearly unusable. I downloaded and installed the mirror driver on this server, rebooted the computer and then tested the remote session. It works without the latency and behaves normally. This solution worked for me.

  • Avatar
    Support

    @Jim,

    Thanks for the update. We're glad to hear that.

    Just FYI, we're working on making the mirror driver easier to install, hopefully by a single button click from within the streamer.

  • Avatar
    Tramach

    Disabling hardware acceleration works for me on a 2003 box with an ATI video card with 16 MB RAM. Is it better to use the mirror driver or disable hardware acceleration?

  • Avatar
    Support

    @Tramach,

    Both work. If you don't need hardware acceleration on this computer, we suggest that you could currently disable the hardware acceleration to work the issue around.

    Mirror driver would work but there are some side effects which we already address the cause. The fix will be included in future streamer release. By that time we would suggest that you could use mirror driver.

    Hope this helps.

  • Avatar
    Avp

    I'm getting prompted by Splash that performance is low, and it took me to this thread. Unfortunately, this is not a server, it is a Win7 Home desktop, with a Radeon HD 7560D built in Gfx, 512Mb video ram.

    Performance is low, but not as bad as some are describing above...

    ideas?

  • Avatar
    Support

    @Avp,

    Sorry for the late response.

    We believe the detection mechanism might not be precise enough on your computer in this case. We will improve the detection in next streamer release.

    If there is no performance issue, you don't need to install mirror driver at this time.

    Hope this helps.