Note: Folder redirection, roaming profiles, offline files and others are part of Microsoft’s User State Virtualization. Before implementing it though, make sure that roaming profiles reside on a file server local the user’s network. You’ll avoid the issue I’m about to describe. This small piece of information is not mentioned in Microsoft’s documents. By the way, throughout all this ordeal, we’ve had BranchCache enabled and this didn’t speed up the user experience either.
Ever since we upgraded to Windows 7 Enterprise, our branch office users started complaining about extremely slow logon and logoff. In some instances, a user logon or logoff could take over ten minutes!
When we migrated our users from Windows XP Professional to Windows 7 Enterprise SP1 (x64), we enabled a few enterprise features:
- Folder redirection (Desktop, Favorites, Links, Documents, Pictures, Videos, Searches and Contacts folders are redirected to a file server in our datacenter)
- Roaming profiles (Users’ roaming profile folders are located on a file server in our datacenter)
- Offline Files (Users’ home folders were set as offline files/folders)
Each branch office connects to our datacenter by means of a Internet based VPN connection. We provisioned each branch office with a business class Internet cable link connection with more than adequate bandwidth.
Each branch office has a local DC used only for authentication and printing purposes.
After three months of working with Microsoft, we finally came up to what seemed to be the cause(es) of the issue – folder redirection, AppData not redirected and the use of Dfs links!
Here’s an example on how we configured folder redirection in our environment.
In our environment, we take advantage of Dfs and its features almost everywhere, so it was natural for us to use Dfs links here as well.
Folder Redirection For AppData
As part of the troubleshooting process, Microsoft recommended us to configure folder redirection for AppData.
Originally, AppData was not redirected, so AppData resided on the user’s local computer/laptop. During a logoff process, logs revealed that AppData was causing delays because it had to write files the user’s roaming profile folder (roaming profile folders reside on a file server in our datacenter).
After making the change to our test group policy, and applying it to our test machine, this step improved the logon and logoff process drastically. Logon and logoff now took less than four minutes! However, we demanded for better improvements.
However, something else broke when we made this change…Acrobat Reader XI became unusable for it could not come out of its Not Responding… state. The quick fix for this – disable Protected Mode. Stick around for more details on this later on.
Enter Dfs (Distributed File System)…
The Microsoft case owner, running out of ideas by now, contacted his senior technical lead and he advised us to use server shares as opposed to Dfs links.
Now that we had folder redirected AppData, along with the other folders, we went ahead and changed each folder’s target to use a server share instead of a Dfs link.
Note: Even when using server shares Acrobat Reader XI would still not work properly. The Not Responding… messages weren’t as frequent, but it was still bad enough that users could get annoyed by the behavior.
This was the winning change!
The Acrobat Reader XI fix
Basically, you’re going to either add the following registry entry or do it directly on Acrobat Reader.
If you want to do it directly on Acrobat Reader, then go to Preferences, Security (Enhanced) and then un-check Enable Protected Mode at startup.
Not the end yet…
As of 4/2/2014, I’m now getting an average of 25 seconds logon and 35 seconds logoff on my test laptop at one of our branch office!
I’m now going to check what causes our Dfs domain infrastructure to behave this way.
As of 9/30/2014, the AppData re-direction workaround broke Internet Explorer browsing – pages take a very long time to load while browsing using IE (10 and up). I opened a case with Microsoft and it looks like the slow down of IE is by design because we’re re-directing AppData and AppData, in our environment, isn’t on a local server to the users’ network. We moved AppData to our central file server located on our data center in a co-location. Again, this bit of information isn’t found on Microsoft’s documentation, so be careful before you go re-directing AppData!
We’re now looking into possibly removing roaming profiles and AppData re-direction because this is affecting productivity for our users.