Inbox Accounting Database Management

The Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) role in Windows Server is a popular VPN server choice for administrators deploying Windows Always On VPN. It is easy to configure, scales well, and is cost-effective. After installing RRAS, administrators can optionally enable inbox accounting to log historical data and generate user access and activity reports as described in Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting.

Inbox Accounting Database

A Windows Internal Database (WID) is automatically installed and configured for data storage when inbox accounting is enabled.

WID is nothing more than a basic instance of Microsoft SQL Server. As such, the database will require periodic maintenance to perform optimally.

Inbox Accounting Database Management Scripts

I have created a series of PowerShell scripts to address the inbox accounting database management requirements for organizations using Windows Server RRAS. Scripts are available to perform the following inbox accounting database management tasks.

  • Optimize the inbox accounting database.
  • View the size of the inbox accounting database files.
  • Compress the size of the inbox accounting database.
  • Back up the inbox accounting database to a file on disk.
  • Restore the inbox accounting database from a backup file.
  • Move the inbox accounting database file to a different location.
  • Remove the inbox accounting database.

Optimize Database

A known issue with the inbox accounting database can result in high CPU and memory utilization for very busy RRAS VPN servers. Specifically, a crucial index is missing from one of the tables in the logging database. This issue persists in Windows Server 2022. To correct this issue, download and run the following PowerShell script on each RRAS VPN server in the organization.

Optimize-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

View Database Size

The database can grow rapidly depending on how busy the RRAS server is. Administrators can view the current database file sizes by downloading and running the following PowerShell script on the RRAS server.

Get-InboxAccountingDatabaseSize.ps1

Compress Database

Over time, the database can become fragmented, decreasing performance. Compressing the database can improve performance and result in significant recovery of disk space. To compress the inbox accounting database, download and run the following PowerShell script on each RRAS server in the organization.

Compress-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

In this example, compressing the database reduced its size by more than 8MB, resulting in a nearly 70% reduction in disk space usage.

Backup Database

Administrators may wish to back up the inbox accounting database before purging older records from the inbox accounting database. Also, backing up the database preservers access records when migrating to a new server. To back up the inbox accounting database, download and run the following PowerShell script on each RRAS server in the organization.

Backup-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

Restore Database

Naturally, to restore the inbox accounting database from a previous backup, administrators can download and run the following PowerShell script.

Restore-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

Restoring a database from backup will erase all records in the current database. It does not append. Proceed with caution!

Move Database Files

Inbox accounting database and log files are located in C:\Windows\DirectAccess\Db by default.

However, storing database and log files on the system drive is not ideal. A better alternative is to place the inbox accounting database and log files on a separate disk for optimum performance. To move the inbox accounting database, download and run the following PowerShell script on each VPN server in the organization.

Move-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

Moving inbox accounting files may not be formally supported by Microsoft. Use caution when making this change.

Remove Database

Occasionally an inbox accounting database becomes corrupt and can no longer be managed. If this happens, completely removing the database is required. It is essential to know that simply disabling and re-enabling inbox accounting on the VPN server does not delete the database. To delete the database completely, download and run the following PowerShell script.

Remove-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1

PowerShell Module

To simplify things, the PowerShell scripts described in this article are available in a PowerShell module that can be installed from the PowerShell gallery using the following command.

Install-Module InboxAccountingDatabaseManagement

Additional Information

Windows Always On VPN RRAS Inbox Accounting Database Management PowerShell Module

Windows Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Windows Always On VPN PowerShell Scripts on GitHub

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and ReportingWindows Server with the Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS) role installed is a popular choice for Windows 10 Always On VPN deployments. Configuring RRAS is commonly performed using the RRAS management console but it can also be configured using PowerShell and/or netsh. In addition, there are a few different options for natively monitoring server health and client connection status.

RRAS Management Console

After installing the RRAS role, the administrator uses the RRAS management console (rrasmgmt.msc) to perform initial configuration. The RRAS management console can also be used to view client connection status by expanding the server and highlighting Remote Access Clients.

Connection Details

To view connection details for a specific connection, the administrator can right-click a connection and choose Status, or simply double-click the connection.

High level information about the connection including duration, data transfer, errors, and IP address assignment can be obtained here. In addition, the administrator can terminate the VPN connection by clicking the Disconnect button.

RRAS Management Console Limitations

Using the RRAS management console has some serious limitations. It offers only limited visibility into client connectivity status, for example. In addition, the client connection status does not refresh automatically. Also, the RRAS management console offers no historical reporting capability.

Remote Access Management Console

The Remote Access Management console (ramgmtui.exe) will be familiar to DirectAccess administrators and is a better option for viewing VPN client connectivity on the RRAS server. It also offers more detailed information on connectivity status and includes an option to enable historical reporting.

Dashboard

The Dashboard node in the Remote Access Management console provides high-level status for various services associated with the VPN server. It also provides a high-level overview of aggregate VPN client connections.

Operations Status

The Operations Status node in the Remote Access Management console provides more detailed information regarding the status of crucial VPN services. Here the administrator will find current status and information about service uptime.

Remote Client Status

The Remote Client Status node in the Remote Access Management console is where administrators will find detailed information about client connectivity. Selecting a connection will provide data about the connection including remote IP addresses, protocols, and ports accessed by the remote client, in addition to detailed connection information such as authentication type, public IP address (if available), connection start time, and data transferred.

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Double-clicking an individual connection brings up a detailed client statistics page for the connection, as shown here.

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Custom View

The Remote Access Management console includes the option to customize the data presented to the administrator. To view additional details about client connections, right-click anywhere in the column headings to enable or disable any of the fields as required.

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Recommended Columns

From personal experience I recommend adding the following columns in the Remote Access Management console.

  • IPv4 Address (this is the IP address assigned to the VPN clients by RRAS)
  • Connection Start Time
  • Authentication Method
  • Total Bytes In
  • Total Bytes Out
  • Rate

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Drawbacks

The only real drawback to using the Remote Access Management console is that it supports viewing connections from just one VPN server at a time. If you have multiple RRAS servers deployed, you must retarget the Remote Access Management console each time to view connections on different VPN servers in the organization.

You can retarget the Remote Access Management console at any time by highlighting the Configuration node in the navigation pane and then clicking the Manage a Remote Server link in the Tasks pane.

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Reporting

Remote Access reporting is not enabled by default on the RRAS VPN server. Follow the steps below to enable historical reporting for RRAS VPN connections.

1. Highlight the Reporting node in the Remote Access Management console.
2. Click Configure Accounting.
3. Uncheck Use RADIUS accounting.
4. Check Use inbox accounting.
5. Review the settings for data retention and make changes as required.
6. Click Apply.

Always On VPN RRAS Monitoring and Reporting

Optionally, historical reporting can be enabled using PowerShell by opening and elevated PowerShell command window and running the following command.

Set-RemoteAccessAccounting -EnableAccountingType Inbox -PassThru

Important Note! There is a known issue with the inbox accounting database that can result in high CPU utilization for very busy RRAS VPN servers. Specifically, a crucial index is missing from one of the tables in the logging database. To correct this issue, download and run the Optimize-InboxAccountingDatabase.ps1 script on each RRAS VPN server in the organization.

Additional Information

Windows 10 Always On VPN and Windows Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS)

Windows 10 Always On VPN Protocol Recommendations for Windows Server Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS)

Windows 10 Always On VPN and RRAS with Single NIC

Windows 10 Always On VPN and RRAS in Microsoft Azure

DirectAccess Reporting Fails and Schannel Event ID 36871 after Disabling TLS 1.0

IMPORTANT NOTE: The guidance in this post will disable support for null SSL/TLS cipher suites on the DirectAccess server. This will result in reduced scalability and performance for all clients, including Windows 8.x and Windows 10. It is recommended that TLS 1.0 not be disabled on the DirectAccess server if at all possible.

When performing security hardening on the DirectAccess server it is not uncommon to disable weak cipher suites or insecure protocols such as SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0. However, after disabling SSL 3.0 and TLS 1.0 you will find that it is no longer possible generate reports. Clicking the Generate Report link in the Remote Access Management console returns no data.

DirectAccess Reporting Fails after Disabling TLS 1.0

In addition, the System event log indicates Schannel errors with Event ID 36871. The error message states that “A fatal error occurred while creating a TLS client credential. The internal error state is 10013.”

DirectAccess Reporting Fails after Disabling TLS 1.0

To resolve this issue and restore DirectAccess reporting functionality you must enable the use of FIPS compliant encryption algorithms on the DirectAccess server. This change can be made locally or via Active Directory group policy. Open the Group Policy Management Console (gpmc.msc) for Active Directory GPO, or the Local Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc) on the DirectAccess server and navigate to Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > Security Options. Double-click System cryptography: Use FIPS compliant algorithms for encryption, hashing, and signing and select Enabled.

DirectAccess Reporting Fails after Disabling TLS 1.0

If using Active Directory GPO, ensure that the GPO is applied all DirectAccess servers in the organization. A restart is not required for this setting to take effect. Once this change has been made, reporting should work as expected.

Additional Resources

DirectAccess IP-HTTPS SSL and TLS Insecure Cipher Suites
DirectAccess Video Training Courses on Pluralsight
Implementing DirectAccess with Windows Server 2016 Book on Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: