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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections Network
I use VNC on an XP box at work to connect to my Mac at home. The speed isn't too bad, but I've found a very simple (and once you know, completely obvious) way to increase the connection speed. I had all manner of fancy images used as desktop backgrounds on my Mac. Last night, I switched the background to a flat colour only, and the increase has been almost astronomical.

Like I said, a very simple and obvious hint.

[robg adds: For those who don't know, VNC is a way to control one computer's GUI from another location. RealVNC is the official home of the software, but they don't offer a Mac server (just PC/Unix servers and clients). Redstone Software, though, makes an OS X VNC server called, simply enough, OSXvnc. There used to be quite a few Mac clients, but the only one I'm aware of with any recent activity is Chicken of the VNC (CotVNC).

You may see another speed boost if you tell your VNC client to only display 256 colors. In CotVNC, you do this via the Connection -> Connection Profiles menu option, then click on the Colors tab. Even if you can't stand 256 colors, try Thousands instead; you should still see an increase in rendering speed.]
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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections | 16 comments | Create New Account
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Use vncviewer under X11
Authored by: zadig on Sep 19, '05 10:26:24AM

I've tried Chicken of the VNC, and I get much faster response and overall feel when I use an X11 vncviewer instead. If you use Fink, you can fink install tightvnc (or fink install vnc4). After that, with X11 running, you can type 'vncviewer' to fire off the viewer app.

Added hint: you can see the menu in vncviewer at any time by hitting F8.

Also, there are ways to have a really fullscreen vncviewer, with no dock or Mac menu bar, but it involves setting an X11 preference and specifying fullscreen to vncviewer, and it's kind of flaky. Maybe someone else will post a hint for making this work well.



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Use vncviewer under X11
Authored by: sr105 on Jun 05, '08 09:57:10AM

3 years later, this tip is still true. I used Mac Ports to install tightvnc instead of Fink, but I can verify that the speed improvement is dramatic.



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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections
Authored by: AaronAdams on Sep 19, '05 10:39:00AM

If you're running Windows XP, you can use Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection client for Mac together the "Allow users to connect remotely to this computer" option in the Remote tab of System Properties in XP. That'll be a whole lot faster.



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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections
Authored by: Gigacorpse on Sep 19, '05 10:41:31AM

Isn't that only good for connecting to a XP machine from the Mac? It doesn't work the other way around, does it?

Also, RDC will require a XP Pro machine, as Home doesn't suport RDC connections.



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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections
Authored by: dcipjr on Sep 19, '05 10:49:34AM

Yup, Microsoft's Remote Desktop runs on XP Pro, 2003 Server, and 2000 Advanced Server. Since I doubt anyone here is running 2003 or Advanced Server, for our purposes, XP Pro.

If you're looking to connect to a XP Pro PC from your Mac, though, without question, Remote Desktop is the way to go. In general, I'm not a fan of Microsoft products, but they did a damn good job on Remote Desktop. It's fast, you can share printers and drives, and you can turn off stuff like desktop patterns automatically. On a fast connection, for basic stuff, it's almost as good as sitting at the computer.



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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections
Authored by: AaronAdams on Sep 19, '05 12:30:38PM

Oops, you're right. I misread the hint. (I had an early, long morning.) Anywho, RDC is a really good way to connect to your Win XP box from your Mac. ;)



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Apple Remote Desktip Pane has Built-in VNC Server
Authored by: HeelToe on Sep 19, '05 10:40:09AM

Apple Remote Desktop can act as a VNC server as well. Just check the box and assign a password for login. Available in your System Preferences Sharing pane.



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Apple Remote Desktip Pane has Built-in VNC Server
Authored by: abyone on Sep 19, '05 12:31:25PM

interesting, I can't seem to connect from a windows client, I get a grey screen for a brief second, that dissapears, No error messages.

Oh well, it would've been cool :)



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Apple Remote Desktip Pane has Built-in VNC Server
Authored by: zadig on Sep 19, '05 03:14:31PM

I tried out the Apple Remote Desktop VNC server, and found that it was much slower (screen updates) than OSXVNC is, so I switched back. I prefer to use built-in solutions over third party, but in this case it did *not* work as well...



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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections
Authored by: Code Masseur on Sep 19, '05 11:23:16AM

This is a pretty lengthy comment, and while there's enough new content to justify its own hint, I don't want to create a totally separate hint on this topic. Perhaps the site maintainer might considering merging this with the original post?

Here are some other ways to speed up the connection (i.e. decrease the latency of the screen response):

1. Change the encoding options. I find that "Tight" works well over constrained bandwidths, but if the VNC server is on your LAN, that "Raw" encoding may work better. There are other encodings, such as "Hextile", "CoRRE", "ZlibHex", "Zlib" and "RRE" which may be more appropriate depending on your setup.

2. If your client offers allowing JPEG compression, try turning this on. This is CPU-intensive on the server, so if the quality level is adjustable, try experimenting with it to see if you're comfortable with the trade-offs between screen refresh latency and display quality.

3. Disable scaling, unless you need it. I find this is most useful for viewing a desktop machine from a handheld device, which has constrained display area.

4. Experiment with other supplied options like enabling CopyRect encoding and adjusting other custom compression levels.

Experimentation is key to optimizing your VNC connection. But if all of these options don't provide you with the experience you're looking for, consider contacting your ISP and upgrading your bandwidth (which generally costs more $$$).



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Other alternatives
Authored by: msilverman on Sep 19, '05 12:23:08PM

Since somebody mentioned Microsoft's Remote Desktop, let me throw in for Timbuktu as an alternative solution. If you have the money to spend on a commerical product, I would recommend looking into Timbuktu, by Netopia. It is not free, but it is much faster then VNC and has a lot more remote control and security features and it may be worth looking in to if you need to use remote control frequently.

Or to look at it another way, VNC is to Timbuktu what vi is to BBEdit -- both do the same thing, but they are still a bit different in how they go about it :-)



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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections
Authored by: smanzo on Sep 19, '05 09:15:04PM

One more thing that folks haven't mentioned... use TightVNC and the DFMirage hook display driver for the VNC Server component. Even without disabling backgrounds or reducing display depth, the DFMirage hook speeds things up noticeably (RDC connections are still faster, but screen resolutions over 640x480 are actually tolerable.)



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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections
Authored by: wsdr on Sep 20, '05 08:51:31AM

For those of you who use VNC over a tunnel via SSH (other hints on this site cover this), enable compression in SSH ( -C ) and you'll find an increase in speed in VNC. That is, of course, if the extra processing power required to compress doesn't cause a slowdown-- users of older, slower, machines beware.



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Tiger built-in VNC Server
Authored by: planetmike on Sep 20, '05 12:56:40PM

Tiger has a built in VNC server. Go to System Preferences, Sharing. Enable "Apple Remote Desktop", then under Access Privileges, check "VNC Viewers may control screen with password"



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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections
Authored by: nberkland on Jun 30, '10 02:30:47PM

I use Teamviewer ( www.teamviewer.com ), this has features to omit the desktop image, and to select the pixels. Speed wise its not too bad, Great thing is that it works on Windows, Mac and Linux, and you can also just login from the web. You can setup user names so that you don't have to remember IP addresses. Special feature that I like, is that it has an app for my iPhone, so I can also control my PC & Mac from it. Also the software is FREE for non-commercial users.



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A simple but effective speed-up tip for VNC connections
Authored by: aarond12 on Nov 14, '10 08:16:40AM

Apple's built-in VNC server doesn't support anything but "Millions" (24-bit) color modes. If you attempt to connect using a VNC client set to "Thousands" (16-bit) or 256-color (8-bit) modes, it will fail.



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