Slow directory listing over VPN?

New Contributor

Hopefully someone here has seen an issue like this. If not, maybe you can commiserate with me...

We use Sonicwall Mobile Connect client on our Macbook Pros to connect to a Sonicwall SSL VPN appliance on site to provide remote access to our file server. The file server is Windows 2012 R2, and we are using ExtremeZ-IP installed on that server to provide AFP access.

Everything is great when you connect to the file server on the internal network. It's even fine if you connect to the public Wifi (firewalled from everything internal) and use the SSL VPN. But as soon as you introduce more than about 30-40 ms of network latency, ie. by accessing files over the SSL VPN from home or on a mobile hotspot, just browsing the file server becomes painfully slow. File transfer speeds are usually not bad, just loading the list of files in a directory is very slow.

I've tried turning off previews in Finder, but that didn't really help. The only answer I've seen is that there isn't anything to be done, because it has to do with the way Finder loads information from the remote server. Access is just as slow if I bypass ExtremeZ-IP and mount the file share via SMB.

Any ideas, JAMF Nation?


Honored Contributor II
Honored Contributor II

I hate to say it but this is quite common with AFP and SMB over WAN connections. The protocols are inherently slow when not on a local connection.

The WiFi anomaly is probably due to the Sonicwall routing the traffic intelligently so it isn't much slower than a direct connection.

Over the past few years as our organisation has become more mobile, we've switched to more cloud and http based technologies that work much better.

When we do still use AFP, we try to keep the number of items per folder to a minimum, which helps reduce the issue.

Do you think WebDAV would be an option for external users?

New Contributor

I've not considered WebDAV yet, thanks for that suggestion! We've also experimented with using Owncloud to sync files, but that has had issues with file locking and creating tons of partial files when it syncs files and not cleaning them up.

It feels frustrating mostly because browsing the network drive on a Windows computer via the SSL VPN works great, and I want to provide that same experience for Macs. I'm glad I'm having this frustration now when I'm only trying to service a handful of remote users. They've been very understanding and willing to try different things. Hopefully we can get a solution in place before more people want to go mobile!

Valued Contributor

@benfifield I'm still trying to tackle this with in our environment as well, but one thing I did notice is that file browsing via terminal happens at an appropriate speed, but via Finder there is an incredible lag. Is this something you've seen as well?