Saturday, November 5, 2011

SOAPWare VPN Resources

I've been helping my parents out with IT tasks down in Silver City for the past three years. A few months ago, we set a system live to comply with the Medicaid and Medicare Electronic Health System "meaningful use" incentive program. For those close to me, you may have noticed right before we set this system live I was going down to Silver City every weekend to work on this. Luckily now things have calmed down and I come about once a month to perform scheduled IT projects.

We switched to the SOAPWare Hosting Service because I believe that the talented people at SOAPWare can maintain a secure, reliable, and functional system cheaper and better than I can (being a dude that lives in Albuquerque and comes to Silver City on the weekends.) The other alternative would have been for me to continue to maintain a server, but to comply with the e-prescription incentive program (part of "meaningful use") we would have had to connect this server to the Internet - making security much more of a concern for a remote administrator such as myself needing to deal with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) . So, the hosting solution sounded good to me!

Things have been working pretty well. One concern I have tried to address this weekend was a slowness associated with the connection when all eight workstations were connected via remote desktop protocol (RDP) to SOAPWare. My mom and the most technically skilled employee at my dad's office both contacted me about it, and I believe the below steps of degrading the quality of the RDP connection should help with this concern, as a degraded connection requires less bandwidth.

I created this post to help employees at my dad's office feel comfortable further adjusting these settings (to degrade visual quality while increasing responsiveness), to provide a nice example of messing with SOAPWare RDP settings to everyone online, and to show how technical documents can be written in the first person with the use of humor and embedded advertisements in a classy way.

In order to make sure a RDP connection doesn't take up as much bandwidth, you can try the below steps. These steps can help you if you are using any kind of RDP connection - not just SOAPWare.

First click on the SOAPWARE VPN Icon as pictured below.
Figure 1 - Beautiful SOAPWare Icon

Next, click on "Options >> " as pictured in Figure 2. Some fields have been redacted due to their importance to National Security.

Figure 2 - Remote Desktop Connection Window - You should click on the red button.

After you have clicked "Options >>" then a more detailed window appears. We are interested in two tabs of this more detailed widow. The first tab we're interested in is the "Display" tab, as pictured below in Figure 3.

Figure 3 - The "Display" Tab

While in the "Display" tab, downgrade your colors to a level that is acceptable to you. I choose 16 bit color since the difference did not seem that bad to me. Also restricting the size of your remote desktop can make things go faster, but I did not do this as I thought my other changes would make things fast enough.

After you are finished playing around with settings in the "Display" tab, there is one more tab we are interested in - the "Experience" tab, as show below in Figure 4.

Figure 4 - "Experience" Tab

For this tab, my recommendation is to select the slowest connection speed available and use the defaults that come with this. Some of the nice visual components of your remote desktop might not be there, but hey, you want it responsive, right?

If this does not improve the responsiveness of the connection, I recommend further downgrading things in the "Display" tab.