Windows 7 stays on “Applying Settings” for up to 10 minutes

This is the first in what I anticipate will be a long line of “Making Windows 7 play nice” posts.

One of my clients has a Server 2003 domain, with two server 2003 R2 domain controllers. They just introduced their first Windows 7 computers, 2 Windows 7 Professional 32 bit workstations. Each was fully patched, and all of the drivers were updated prior to joining the domain. In addition certain things were disabled like UAC, power settings on the NIC, and hibernate/suspend, before it was joined to the domain.

Once the machine was joined to the domain we started noticing that when users would log in, it could take up to 10 minutes for Windows 7 to stop displaying the “Applying Settings…” screen and actually display the user’s desktop. Once logged in most things were normal, although there did seem to be a lot of sluggishness when browsing UNC paths.
The first place I looked was in the Application Event log and I found these two logged warnings

I stated doing some research and I came across a variety of things to “try” of which these were:

  • Updating the domain controllers with the Group Policy Preference Extensions KB943729.
  • Moving the new computers into their own OU with NO group policies applied, and block inheritance enabled
  • Disabling IPv6 on the client computers, this improved the time from about 10 minutes to about 3 minutes, but still it was taking too long to log in.

I also created a new user in an OU that does not have any policies applied and verified that this user DOES NOT experience the slow login times.

From here I started applying policies one a time to this new user and logging into the computers, it was at the Desktop and My Document redirection policy that the slowness re-appeared for all users, including the new one that previously wasn’t experiencing the problem.

This was a big finding; something in our document redirection group policy was causing the slowness, 3 minutes with IPv6 disabled and 10 minutes if IPv6 was enabled.
I downloaded the RSAT tools for windows 7, installed them, and installed Group Policy Management console. I also created a Central Store for Group Policy Administrative Templates on the Windows 2003 domain by following the procedure on KB929841.
I then set about re-creating the document redirection policy on one of the windows 7 workstations, and creating a new OU for testing. I created another new test user.I moved the test user into this OU and ran a gpupdate /force.

Even with the new OU, New GPO created on a Windows 7 PC and a brand new test user the problem still persisted.
Eventually I remembered that we experienced a problem very similar to this with this client’s Mac 10.5 clients attempting to attach to windows SMB hosts, and the resolution was to disable the TCP/IP Offload chimney on the server. I disabled the offload chimney on the workstation but there was no improvement.

A co-worker of mine eventually found a command to disable auto tuning, and on a whim we tried this on the workstations by running the following command on in the command prompt logged in as the domain admin:

netsh interface tcp set global autotuninglevel=disabled

Unfortunately there was no improvement, until we rebooted, then just like that the problem was gone, existing users could log in quickly, new users could log in quickly, both the old and the new document redirection group policies had no effect on how quickly users could log in. It was a night and day difference; it went from 3 minutes to log in to about 5 or 10 seconds. And the UNC path browsing was much faster as well.
I did not re-enable IPv6 to test that, because it’s not in use on this client’s network anyway.

5 thoughts on “Windows 7 stays on “Applying Settings” for up to 10 minutes

  1. Bhupesh

    Hi Sean

    I am having the same issue as well and i have followed your command line solution but for some reason still getting the same problem and wait on the welcome screen is gone to 4-5 mins.You did mention a reboot after the command.I did restart my machine but no luck or do i need to restart the server.
    Please advice..


  2. Beloc

    Thanks for all of your work in this. I’ve been plagued with this issue for a long time. My only work around at the time was to disconnect the network cord before I attempt to login.

    I ran the netsh command with little improvement, but then disabled IPV6 and I log in within seconds. I have another user with the same issue and will try it on theirs as well.

    Again thank you so much for this article!

  3. Pingback: Windows 7 slow login times « Computer Solutions Repair Inc.

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