Windows performs a remarkably long list of tasks whenever a user logs on or off a computer. The tasks can be different depending on a number of variables, some of which are:
- If the computer is domain-joined
- If the computer is connected to a network
- If the user profile is local, network, or roaming
- If this is the user’s first login at this computer
- If additional software is running
When login takes a long time (and I define it as longer than one minute), users tend to complain. The delay may be costing productivity or be a general nuisance. And finding the source of the delay can be frustrating. So where do you start to troubleshoot this problem?
My first step is usually to make a simple configuration change to the computer that will provide more details about what tasks are happening. This is called verbose logging in Windows.
Enabling Verbose Logon and Logoff Notifications
This one is really simple to configure on a standalone computer.
First, press Windows+R to open the Run window. Type gpedit.msc and press Enter. This launches the Local Group Policy Editor as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Local Group Policy, ready for action!
Then in the left-hand navigation pane expand Computer Configuration, expand Administrative Templates, and click System. In the right pane scroll down until you see the Verbose vs normal status messages option as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2. The Verbose vs normal status messages option.
Now just double-click the option, select Enabled, and then click OK. It will appear as Enabled as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Verbose status messages are GO!
Finally, you need to have the user logon and logoff to reproduce the problem. As the computer is processing the logon and logoff tasks, a much more detailed message appears on the screen. This should help to indicate the cause of the delay.