Troubleshoot and Speed Up Windows Logons in Desktop Virtualization Environments

Exploring Citrix Logon issues

Logon issues are part of the reality of any desktop virtualization environment. Since slow logons are rampant in virtual environments and have a negative impact on user experience and how VDI is perceived in the organization, it is important to minimize the slow logons to the lowest level possible.
Let’s explore common reasons for slow Citrix XenApp logons and offer best practices in order to troubleshoot them:
Slow logons are tricky to investigate. This is due to the fact that the Citrix Xenapp logon process consists of a multitude of communication points and phases. These include:

  1. Profile load time
  2. Group Policy load time
    a. Group Policy Scripts
    b. Citrix Group policies (VDI SBC only)
  3. Pre-Shell (Userinit)
  4. Shell load

Profile load time issues: 

The list of products like persona management, Citrix User Profile manager, and many other profile management tools is long. Third-party profile management tools rose to fame due to the lack of functionality in Microsoft AD options. I won’t be covering those, even though using an adequate solution for profile management could reduce logon times.
How can you ensure that your profile load time is optimal?
Profile Management is Necessary

  1. Folder Redirection – Try avoiding copying the entire profile from the file server to the Citrix XenApp VDI box. Whether you are using a third-party profile management tool or not, redirecting the folders is a must. If you don’t have any particular reason not to map a specific folder, you should map it.
  2. Exclude Irrelevant Subfolders from the profile – whether you are using Citrix UPM or a basic AD Roaming profile, you can always exclude folders. Citrix has a list of “Recommended Exclusion List”.
  3. Overloaded Profile Server – Make sure your file server is optimized to the amount of users that are logging in during the login storm of morning rush hour. The most common bottlenecks are the Disk IOPS and network latency. CPU and memory overload could also adversely affect users’ logon time.

Group policy load time issues:

Manage your GPOs

  1. Avoid using unnecessary GPOs – if you’re a sysadmin in an enterprise organization with more than a thousand users in your directory, you’ll probably find some legacy settings defined in your group policies. Just remember – the more settings you have in your GPOs, the slower the login process.
  2. Merge GPO settings as much as possible – GPO processing is faster when you have less GPOs. Try to merge setting of relevant topics.

Citrix Group policy (Citrix Environments only) issues:

Printer Mapping Effects on Logon time

Printer Mapping- Citrix has a comprehensive solution for printer mapping. Use it! In Citrix XenDesktop/XenApp, you can apply an intricate set of policies to your VDI XenApp environment. Policies like mapping default printers, and making sure that the “Wait for printers to be created” policy is set to disabled, could save precious logon time.

ShellStartup Issues:

Once the shell has loaded, the Startup apps start loading as well. Many apps wind up the startup folder by default when they’re installed. In Windows 7, you should open msconfig in order to disable those apps. In windows 10, simply open the Task Manager under the Startup tab:

To sum up

The Logon process is complex and includes multiple phases. I’ve tried to gather the most common and important best practices for each phase. The main point I tried to get across is that the list of reasons for slow logons is long. There are a few musts like redirecting the profile folders into the correct network paths, reducing the GPOs to the minimum, and so on, but in order to find the root cause for logon issues, comprehensive solutions and substantial tools of the like you can find in ControlUp CAN HELP.
To see further reading on logon time troubleshooting see our blog post in the Citrix Blog.