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Setting Time Limits

Using Group Policy

Configuration using Group Policy is by far the simplest method if you already have a working Active Directory and Group Policy infrastructure in place. Setting these up is beyond the scope of this documentation, so if you do not currently use these, strongly consider using registry configuration instead (below).

In short, Session Arbiter will use the same configuration as Remote Desktop Services uses for session time limits. These settings are found in the following locations in the Group Policy Editor:

  • Computer Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Remote Desktop Services\Remote Desktop Session Host\Session Time Limits
  • User Configuration\Policies\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Remote Desktop Services\Remote Desktop Session Host\Session Time Limits

Settings can be configured for either the user of computer. If both are configured, the computer configuration will take precedence. Details of each setting are in the Supported Settings section below.

Policy settings will also take precedence over any local registry settings you configure using the procedure in Using Registry Settings below. This behaviour can be overridden; see the Configuring Session Arbiter page for details.

Using Registry Settings

You can also configure per-machine settings for Session Arbiter by creating values in the system registry at the following location:

  • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\SessionArbiter\Parameters

Values should be created as DWORD type values. Details of each setting are in the Supported Settings section below.

Supported Settings

The following settings are supported by Session Arbiter, with functionality that mirrors their behaviour in Remote Desktop Services:

Group Policy Setting* Registry Value Details
Set time limit for disconnected sessions MaxDisconnectionTime

Specifies the maximum amount of time that a disconnected user session is kept active on the workstation. If you specify "Never," the user's disconnected session is not subject to any time limit by Session Arbiter.

Sessions are treated as ‘disconnected’ as soon as a second user clicks the Switch User button. If the second user later logs off, the first user’s session will remain in a disconnected state; it will not automatically return to an active state.

When configuring this value in the registry, specify the number of milliseconds that you want the limit to be.

Set time limit for active Remote Desktop Services sessions. MaxConnectionTime

Specify the maximum amount of time that the user's session can be active before the session is automatically disconnected or they are logged off. Disconnection works as if the user had locked their session, and then clicked the Switch User button; their session will remain logged in, but the workstation will present the Windows login screen instead of showing the workstation as being locked.

The user will see a message box popup warning two minutes before the session is disconnected or logged off, which allows the user to save open files and close programs. Note that there is no way for the user to cancel the disconnect/log off.

When configuring this value in the registry, specify the number of milliseconds that you want the limit to be.

Terminate session when time limits are reached. fResetBroken

Use this option to specify what action will be taken if an Active session limit is configured (above). If this option is configured, the user will be logged off when the active session limit is reached. If it is not configured, or is disabled, the user will have their session disconnected.

This setting has no effect on the time limit for disconnected sessions; they will always be logged off when the time limit is reached.

When configuring this value in the registry, specify 1 to indicate that the session should be logged off. Omit the value or specify 0 to have the session disconnected.

* Note: these are the Group Policy setting names as they appear in Windows Server 2008 R2. They may differ slightly on earlier versions of Windows.

Last edited Mar 15, 2012 at 6:14 PM by jschlackman, version 5