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Lock Windows 7 Then Logon Slow

Headline: Mine problem was a special case where Dell Control Point was taking quite some time when I would logon to unlock my Dell Precision M4500 Notebook running Windows 7 x64. Uninstalling Control Point and installing Dell Data Protection Program solved my issue!

The Problem

I’ve always been in the habit of locking (Windows Key + L) my machine before walking away. This past weekend I was doing a great deal on my computer and had to get up and walk away many times. Finally it dawned on my, “A machine like this shouldn’t take so long to logon.” Now this problem was not as severe as what other saw with the “Solid Background Color” issue. (If you think you have that – far more common – stop and check this post out: Windows 7 RTP Solid Color background causes login to take almost 45 seconds… or KB Article 977347 )

Now, that “Solid Background Color” issue was so common that it made searching for any other cause almost impossible. All the keywords you would expect – slow, lock, logon, welcome screen, Windows 7, Microsoft, etc. – would all lead to this same issue.

How Slow Was It?

Ok… so if my problem didn’t result in 30 or 45 seconds delays, how long was it? It was about 8 to 10 seconds. If I did a “Switch User” logging back on was faster (although a bit odd as windows would shift and resize as the terminal services would kick in again.) But Pressing Windows Key + L would lock the machine, and then logging in again would take a couple of seconds on the password screen then about another 6 or 7 seconds on the Welcome screen, and then finally I would see the desktop.

Now some of you might be saying, “8 seconds? Are you serious? What are you complaining about?” But most people are thinking of logging on for the first time, not returning and merely unlocking your machine. But try it out… Ask anyone to lock and unlock their machine. In the environment I’m in I could not find a slower machine! One machine was about 5 years old, but ran Windows 7. It took just over 1 second for him to return to his desktop!

Troubleshooting

Microsoft – First evening

I finally decided to give Microsoft a call. I looked in the Event Log, checked the performance monitor, the resource monitor, etc. I could not find any clues. So, I was finally so frustrated that I decided to pay some money for Microsoft support on Windows 7. We started with the usual steps – msconfig.exe and turn off all the startup programs, check the drivers, look at all the services that are running, etc. – but none of those had an impact, not even a single second.

The key takeaway was that Process Monitor can definitely be your friend in situations like this.

We then downloaded Process Monitor and I would start the Capture, lock the machine, logon again, and finally stop the Capture.

I would start the Capture, lock the machine, logon again, and finally stop the Capture. My best time for that round trip was just under 15 seconds.

My best time for that round trip was just under 15 seconds. With drivers still the most common cause and on their minds we called it a day and agreed to update them the next morning. I was so troubled by this point that I couldn’t find the cause that I decided to get all my drivers lined up and working in top shape – even for items I don’t use much like Bluetooth.

I did that, yet still the usual 15 second round trip. So I kept pouring over the events in the Process Monitor there were probably 100,000 entries to look at. About midnight, I finally saw a pattern. There would be a fairly long gap in the time while many registry requests were made for Cryptography and for Certificates. And all of these occurred over about a 5 second window – just the time I was looking to gain back. I fired off an e-mail and decided to get some rest.

Microsoft – The Next Morning

I dutifully got a call from Microsoft the next morning to follow up on the issue. I was convinced we were finally on the right trail. I’d hoped that I would start to close in on the issue no. However, we started to head back down the path of turning off all sorts of software… software that have little or no impact on the events in the Process Monitor output. After all, I’m looking for 5 or so seconds, not 1.342seconds! As I saw us headed down a path of looking at very small times I was relieved when they wanted to research the problem some more and get back to me… Now I could spend some time looking at what I felt was the real issue.

The key to solving this problem was the right frame of mind. Some felt, “That’s just the way it is.” I knew in my heart, “The machine can be really fast!”

When I thought about the different approaches, I realized that if your perception was one that felt there was no real problem, then you really aren’t looking for something big. When I saw all these slow machines around me – many with the same software installed (Visual Studio 2010, SQL Server 2008 R2, etc.) – I knew my machine could move.

Dell

After that call I contacted Dell via chat. I was fixing to uninstall the software that ran the fingerprint scanner I have to see if that was the culprit. If it was, then I would make the trade-off decision – fast logons or my fingerprint scanner (which I really like). I just wanted to touch base with Dell because I’m not really all that familiar with their software and find it confusing.

We got disconnected but I got a call back quickly from the Workstation Team. I learned that the Control Point software had been replaced (for my M4500) with the new Dell Data Protection program. With some advise on which documents to read and the mere fact that I should uninstall Control Point to install Data Protection, I set about uninstalling Control Point.

The key information I got from Dell was that for my M4500 I should removed Control Point and install the new Dell Data Protection Program.

After uninstalling the Control Point software, the first thing I did was run my test again…

After removing the software that used all the registry keys for Cryptography and Certificates I completed my test in under 7 seconds! That’s a saving of 8 seconds off my previous personal best!

When I ran my test I was thrilled… Now I logged back in so fast that I hardly even saw the wait cursor!

Sidebar – poor performance when typing in a password…

I have to slow down when I type in my password… If I type to fast, the system will reposition the cursor back at the beginning of the password field after I’ve typed about 2 or 3 characters, thus scrabbling my password. If I’m not looking, it fails and asks if I want to change users… I had to change my password about a month ago because I typed my password into the User Name field as a result… I hope that gets fixed someday.

After the install, wall was still well…

Next was to install the new Dell Data Protection Program… I was quite nervous, still contemplating the potential trade-off decision. However, after I installed the new software and had it all configured with my fingerprints again, I was able to match my time of less than 7 second round trip.

The key to making this successful was to follow the advice Dell gave me. If you Click on the “Dell Data Protection | Access – Application Package” then expand the “Important Information” section, you will see some very detailed instructions.  I followed these and had no issues.

Thanks

I’m thankful to Microsoft for making me aware of the great Sysinternals tools such as Process Monitor. I’m thankful to Dell for making me aware of the newer fingerprint scanner software.

I feel like I have a fast and productive computer again! I’m still enjoying my Dell Latitude M4500 with Microsoft Windows 7 SP 1

1 Comment  »

  1. pantelija says:

    Hello,

    I followed your advice and DELL’s instructions to the letter (on W7 ulti 64) and login is faster. However, I can not start the Access – application (start the software) it got installed on programfiles (x86) instead of 64bit program files . Result – embssy suite is not working so no fingerprint reader/ enrollment software. Login is fast now. ANy suggestions. Documentation or comments on this Dell Data Protection is really hard to find anywhere….

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