Speed up GPO processing during logon

How logons get bogged down by the synchronus policy application. And how you can change that.

When a Windows 2000 Professional workstation logs onto a domain where group policy processing is enabled, the logon can take a long time. The wait time for group policy processing depends on how many policies have to be evaluated, the number of changes to be applied, and whether or not the policies themselves have changed singe the last logon.

Another and greater reason for policy processing taking as long as it does is because Windows 2000 processes policies synchronously. This means each step of the policy is applied one at a time, with the server waiting for individual confirmation that each step has been applied before moving on to the next one. On the other hand, Windows XP Professional applies policies asynchronously: every step in the policy is applied at the same time, with the server confirming each step independently. This makes for a much faster login.

There is one downside to this behavior, which many people feel is a fair trade for the faster login time. When asynchronous processing is used, events may not be processed in the order intended, including such order-dependent actions as folder redirection and software installation. One side effect is that a user may have to log in several times before changes dictated by a group policy finally take effect.

But if that is not the case in your organization, you can set Windows 2000 to use asynchronous policy processing through a policy setting. If your environment doesn't rely on things like mapped paths to shared drives, or the policies change only very rarely, you can speed logons by setting group policy behavior into asynchronous mode.

  1. Open the management console for Active Directory in the domain where your Windows 2000 systems log on.
  2. Right-click on the domain in question and select Properties, then select the Group Policy tab.
  3. Select the GPO that is applied to the machine in question and select Configure.
  4. Expand the tree to Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> System -> Group Policy.
  5. Double-click "Apply Group Policy for computers asynchronously during startup" and select Enabled, then Apply, then OK.
  6. Do the same for "Apply Group Policy for users asynchronously during logon."
  7. The results may take from one to three restarts on the client machines to take effect.

Serdar Yegulalp is the editor of the Windows 2000 Power Users Newsletter. Check out his Windows 2000 blog for his latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators – please share your thoughts as well!


This was first published in July 2003

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