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On a college campus, we have many machines in a handful of computer labs. Most run Windows 7, some are still on XP. We use Deep Freeze to ensure that when a computer is rebooted, it is back to the state we originally put it in.

We do not use roaming profiles. When a domain user logs onto a machine, it takes a considerable amount of time get to the desktop, as the local profile needs to be built for that user. It is my understanding that a large chunk of this time is much of the software installed creating user preferences (using the default profile RunOnce registry keys), just as it would after a reboot post-installation.

Because of Deep Freeze, even if the user logs on to the machine frequently, their profile still needs to be rebuilt, as the system goes back to a state where their profile doesn't exist upon reboot.

The default profile itself only weighs in at 5MB.

I thought I saw a tool awhile back to optimize this process, but I cannot remember the name of it, or find something similar.

How can I optimize the first logon of a user so that it finishes quickly?

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Applications typically do not modify the default profile's RunOnce key. That would be a really ugly way of performing initial personalization and much too cumbersome. Instead they just check on startup if they have been personalized before and use their default settings is not. On my heavily used PC the default profile's RunOnce key only contains one entry, for mctadmin, which comes with Windows ( – Helge Klein Aug 12 '11 at 15:09
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Did you customize the default profile before deploying the machines? I've found that to help considerably. If you are able to redeploy these machines, try it out. Take a Windows 7 machine, logon as the built-in administrator, then sysprep it. When it comes back up, see if there's a decrease in the new profile creation time.

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I will give it a try, thank you. – Brad Aug 9 '11 at 18:38

I don't think the installed software does anything with the users profile upon profile creation and I've never heard of such a thing. My suggestion would be to enable user environment debug logging to find out what's causing the logon process to take so long. BTW, how long does it take to create/load the user profile?

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I have been told it takes over 5 minutes, but I don't put too much faith into that number. I haven't specifically timed it, but to me it does seem to take somewhere between 2-3 minutes. – Brad Aug 9 '11 at 13:38
Also, the settings for software bit does exist, but I can't remember what it is called. I'll post more if I find it. I remember it most with older IE and Outlook Express, where it would create your mailbox and what not when the user account was created. I'll let you know if I can find better documentation. – Brad Aug 9 '11 at 13:40
2 to 3 minutes does seem rather long for such a small profile. I would start looking at things like: How long does it take on a computer that isn't using Deep Freeze? Are the logon servers local to the clients? Is DNS configured correctly on the clients? Etc., etc. – joeqwerty Aug 9 '11 at 13:40
I hadn't thought about Deep Freeze being a bottleneck, I will definitely try it. For most labs, the domain controller is across the building over gigabit ethernet, so I don't think that is the issue. DNS and what not is fine. The hard drive LED is lit up the whole time during boot, so I don't think we have a network issue. Also, I found the RunOnce key for new users. It is as simple as adding the key to the default profile registry: – Brad Aug 9 '11 at 13:46
OK, it sounds like you're referring to items in the "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Active Setup" registry key, which is applicable to Microsoft components, not installed software (AFAIK). – joeqwerty Aug 9 '11 at 13:47

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