Migrate XP users to terminal server accessed by thin clients

9,860 pts.
Tags:
Terminal Server
Thin client
Windows
Windows 2003 Terminal Server
Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2003 migration
Windows XP
Windows XP User Accounts
How can we migrate all of our users xp data to our new terminal server where they will be working out of? There computers will be replaced with thin terminals. We want their experience to stay the same or improve but we will not settle for less.



Software/Hardware used:
Terminal Server, Windows, 2003
ASKED: September 24, 2010  4:13 PM
UPDATED: October 20, 2010  5:28 AM

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Microsoft has been generous with the elements of Terminal Services that it’s included in Windows XP Professional. Not only is there an improved Thin Client but there’s a Terminal Server in there as well called Remote Assistance. It will only host one Terminal Server session at once but, if your intended use is for remote access from home or when away on business, this is ideal because your users actually access their own office PC so when they’re back in the office, all of their files and emails are in the right place.

If you set every remote user’s Thin Client to connect to a different TCP port then, with firewall mapping rules, you can direct each user to their own office PC and host as many simultaneous sessions as your Internet bandwidth will allow.

Remote Desktop Protocol uses TCP port 3389 by default but if you want to connect to your network at mycompany.myisp.com on port 3399 then, in the Thin Client connection box type:-

mycompany.myisp.com:3399

Then with your firewall’s port mapping rules, direct incoming connections on port 3399 to the relevant host on your internal network, say, 10.0.0.120 on port 3389.

If you flinch at the prospect of opening so many ports on your firewall with “hard-wired” connections to internal computers then remote users could instead come through the firewall over VPN connections and then make the Thin Client connection to their workstations using the default TCP port and by simply typing the workstation name in the connection box. This way is less efficient as there’s double encryption – once by Terminal Server and once by the VPN – and it uses up a server CAL but it may appeal on security grounds and it’s easier to use with DHCP.

I’ve tried connections using both methods and found there to be little difference in performance.

Other Points

Windows XP Service Pack 2 was released in August 2004.
Prior to its release, it was rumoured that this would allow several simultaneous sessions – perhaps 2 remote desktop sessions and 1 local session.

Unfortunately Microsoft decided not to include this feature in the final version of Service Pack 2.

However, one of the beta versions of SP2 did allow this feature and so, if you copy across the file termserv.dll from this beta version and make a few registry and other changes, you can get 3 simultaneous sessions – 3 remote or 2 remote and 1 local session – using Windows XP with the the standard SP2 and all subsequent hotfixes applied.

I’ve tested it and it works.

It contravenes the terms of the XP EULA and the computer can’t join a domain but it’s certainly a useful trick.
The office PCs will need to be left turned on with sleep mode enabled and set so any network traffic addressed to their network cards will rouse them from their slumbers.

If a VPN connection is also available and each workstation has the Wake-on-LAN feature enabled then you can actually turn on an office PC which has been fully shutdown by sending what’s called a Magic Packet to its network card. Wait 3 minutes for it to boot up, make your Remote Desktop connection and finally shut down the PC again from within the remote session.

If you have remote workers who don’t have a desk and PC in your office, it might even be worth getting a couple of extra PCs with XP installed tucked away in a corner somewhere just for these remote clients to connect through.
If this system were in regular daily use in your company it might make sense to get a 2nd Broadband connection, just for remote access, and leave remote users to compete between themselves for bandwidth without disrupting other Internet activities.

Don’t get the 2nd circuit from the same supplier otherwise the two circuits will be contending for the same bandwidth at the ISP.

If possible use a different medium – one cable and the other ADSL.
This is a sort of distributed Terminal Services solution that works on top of existing hardware and uses existing software licences

The Last Word
Terminal Services has its place in modern computing and although it can be useful where security or tight control of users is important, this place is as the king of remote access over slow connections.

It’s even possible to use Terminal Services for remote network access without any extra hardware or software licenses.

Note: Windows XP Service Pack 2 was released in August 2004. Prior to its release, it was rumoured that this would allow several simultaneous sessions – perhaps 2 remote desktop sessions and 1 local session. Unfortunately Microsoft decided not to include this feature in the final version of Service Pack 2.

However, one of the beta versions of SP2 did allow this feature and so, if you copy across the file termserv.dll from this beta version and make a few registry and other changes, you can get 3 simultaneous sessions – 3 remote or 2 remote and 1 local session – using Windows XP with the the standard SP2 and all subsequent hotfixes applied. I’ve tested it and it works.

It contravenes the terms of the XP EULA and the computer can’t join a domain but it’s certainly a useful trick.

Good Luck !

Discuss This Question: 2  Replies

 
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  • carlosdl
    Great answer Rechil. I would just recommend making sure the original author doesn't have a problem with his/her complete blog post being copied here without giving proper credit. Best,
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  • Subhendu Sen
    Thanks Carlosdl. I like ur style of answering questions. Ur innovative answers also inspire me. So credit doesn't fully go to me rather the credit goes u also !
    26,090 pointsBadges:
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