Windows XP Start Menu Problem

I wonder if anyone can help me with this. I have a NT 4.0 Domain which launches profiles from a network shared location as
users are limited on the machines. However the problem I am experiencing only on Windows XP workstations is that the start menu is hangs  when you browse over and the next menu selection is greyed out for an extended period before it can be viewed.This problems seems to be enhanced after installing XP SP2.Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Hello Lesc13 =)

May this trick can help you :)

A Faster Start Menu
Turn off the XP firewall and see if the problem persists. If not, we can proceed from there.
Lesc13Author Commented:
Hi the firewall is stopped and disabled on these machines I will quickly try SheharyaarSaahil suggestion
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Lesc13Author Commented:
SheharyaarSaahil I have actually tried your suggested commented before it does speed the display up but does not really help. The reason being that it actually causes explorer to stop responding when it greys out the submenu section whilst browsing. The problem with this being the users are limited they cannot even go into taskmanager and restart explorer.exe and this I would not allow even seen as users are nontechnical.
ok so tell me that these ALL xp machines are having this issue ONLY after upgrading to SP2 ??
if yes then only on one machine can you try this... disconnect it from the network and then try this following,

How to perform a clean boot in Windows XP

Now restart and check if same issue..... just let me know the results :)
Lesc13Author Commented:
We seem to have the problem in general which I think might somehow be related to profiles launching from the network but the users are used to this but after SP2 it becomes unbareably slow even with startup I will try and get a file copy of my group policies and past all reveland group policies here might that help?.
Lesc13Author Commented:
Oh Shehaaryaarsahil I have already tried the clean boot option did not know that is what it was called :)
hmmmmmmm and have you tried to disconnect any of the machine from network to check that if the problem really lies in the loading of Network profiles.... coz if its the case then there should be no problem with the local ones...!!
Sounds like the PC's are looking 4 something on the network, causing them to stall.

Do you have any old printers, or novell network connections, that are not relevant any more?
Remove them if u do....

Lesc13Author Commented:
SheharyaarSaahil I have had a look at the suggestion and asked a few users to that and they say when connected locally it runs normal speed,so I am agreeing with you the problem must be Network Profile or/and Group policy related we run a NT4 Domain with all the different OS's NT4/XP/2000 no 9x machines though. When I started working here I already noticed that there was problems with profiles and sometimes we run a prfoile cleanup tool. Do not know if this might help you but sometimes when logging on it will prompt you saying that the local profile is newer than the one you are currently using as if it cannot see the network one then it keeps on creating tmp files on the network profile and th only way to resolve it is to delete both profiles does this help?. And JB no novell stuff I checked thanks
If the PC is asking "that the local profile is newer than the one you are currently using" I gather it is asking if you wish to use the local profile or download???
What it means, is that the user profile is NOT being written back to the server when they shutdown. This can happen if they just turn the PC off, instaed of allowing the PC to shutdown normally. Ususally there are no bad side-effects from this....Unless they choose to download. Now, if they have Temp Internet files and Outlook pst files as part of the user profile, then logging in can be a pain, as some users can have GB's of data in these two items alone. It will all copy down from the server. Don't have these items in their profile. Also, they should not have any large files on their Desktop, as changes will also be written back to the server/downloaded as part of the profile.

2ndly, I am wondering if your network card speed is matching the port speed that the PC's are plugged in to.
I know that we have several network cards, that if set to Auto-detect, will run like dogs. When we change them to match the LAN (in our case 100MB/Full duplex), the speed is thrilling (well not quite, but u get the idea). This can be adjusted in Control Panel/network connections, properties on the network card, configure, advanced, then look for media type or Link speed. Change it from Auto to the matching speed and duplex. As an example, if set to auto, our Intel cards will default to 100Mbs/half-duplex, but if we over-ride this to 11/full, the performance change is amazing.

Anyway, some things to try.....


Lesc13Author Commented:
Hi thanks for the suggestion we still have some CISCO Catalyst 2820 Swithces which ran at 10MB/S Half Duplex and the rest of the network runs Catalyst 5000 which runs 100 MB/s full duplex...It basically says the local profile is newer than the roaming one so if you say yes it replaces it and then keeps writing tmp files to the stored network profiles.They are limited to such an extent they don't have access to change the registry,desktop or menu's. I must somehow be network or policy related but I will try you NIC speed suggestion and test for a bit.Any other idea what type of Group Policy limitation might cause this?.I am not a NT expert.Thanks
Lesc13Author Commented:
I have tried the NIC speed suggestion with no luck it actually slows down after that...They cannot have any files on theird desktop or documents stored as their profile is loaded from DC.Any other suggestions?.
Lesc13Author Commented:
Hi guys sorry for no post's beings playing around. Ok seems problems started when our fileservers went to 2000 the PDC and the BDC ar still NT4.Thus the group policy is also NT4. Also the error that some time comes up says that the local profile is newer than the roaming profile?.
Les.... im not very good at these domains and servers thingies..... you try one thing,,, post a 20 pointer question with the link to this question either in the same TA or in Operating System TA or where-ever you think is suitable...... so that experts from other TAs can check the new pointer question and can come here to help you...... :)
Lesc13Author Commented:
Hi I am very new to this site I am not sure how to do that?. Thanks a mill for your adive it is really appreciated would you be able to tell me how to do that?.
its not difficult..... either choose this TA or some other one like the Operating System area
hit Ask a Question and give the question title as "Pointer Question for 500 worth Question"
in the body write down, "please post in this original question >>"
assign 20 points for this question.... as this is the minium points value
hit Submit.... now its a new pointer question to this question, expert will check the new question and will be able to come here :)
You can post these pointer questions in other TAs also which seem to be related to this issue..... but yeah dont spam! ;-)
Boot into safemode (not networking support), and right click "My computer" and select manage.
Go to services and applications, and disable the IPv6 internet connection firewall service.

General Tips:
Limit programs that autostart
Update: spyware

The keys you're interested in are as follows:-

For Windows 98 & Me, disabled items were placed in the registry keys named above with a "-" after it, ie:
For Windows XP this is changed:-
For items that were in the Start -> Programs -> Startup folder:
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupfolder
You'll find a subkey for each disabled item.
For items loaded from the Registry:
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupreg

Hi, I didn´t read all the comments so forgive me if I contradict some of the previous posts :)

Are you using the same roaming profiles built on an NT OS used for NT, Win2000 and XP user??

If so, that is not a recommended way!

Please let me know and good luck with a solution!
I just commented on another issue that may have the same cause...I am assuming that you have done the following:

1) Attempted the process locally as a local user (It was  mentioned that it runs fine?)
2) Attempted the process as the roaming user with the user added to a local admin group (to test policy issues).

We've had many users lose some functions on their Win2k and WinXP desktops on our NT 4 domain many times...until AD is implemented we had to give them local power user privileges until the sources of the issues were identiofied and local policies updated.

HOWEVER, the delay you are seeing is posibly due to network latency as mentioend before as well. We did the same things as suggested above, but ended up doing the following things suggested in this link...for your puroposes IGNORE the Novell specific changes listed:

There is a reg file posted there that has the changes listed in one could be useful (quicker) but check out the indiviidual changes first so that you know what is being altered.

Since then we've had no issues.
I have a question, am a bit of a newbie to ee and saw this Q.  If you could (I am a bit unclear on the nature of the problem), perhaps rephrase exactly what is hanging and what is greyed out.  

I'm unclear on "the start menu is hangs  when you browse over and the next menu selection is greyed out".  I don't know what you mean (it may be obvious to others, but I'm sometimes a bit dense when it comes to getting the exact nature of the problem.

Do you click on the start button on the task bar,
and when it displays the menu, some items are greyed
out?  Which item or what item is greyed out?  Are you using the XP Start Menu or the Classic Start Menu?
(under task bar, rightclk, Prop, tab "Start Menu").

I'm just not understanding exactly what is hanging and/or what is greyed out on what menu.  I'm not a Windows Expert and my setup here is WinXP1 + a linux Samba based PDC (of which my understanding is also
somewhat vague).

Another general debug step you could try is to look at what traffic is on the hanging computer's ethernet channel using "ethereal" (  You might see some sort of broadcast traffic from the client and get an idea of what it is looking for and/or timing out from.  

About how long is the item greyed out and the computer appear "hung" 5, 10, 15, 30 seconds (etc).

There was a long standing issue with WinXP looking for print servers on all network shares that caused extra time delays when searching (accessing?) network shares.

Does the "hang" only occur once, or if you immediately repeat the same thing that causes the hang on the same computer, does it hang an equal amount a 2nd time?  I'm wondering if what it is "looking for" is something that is looked for everytime you do the "hanging event", or if a recent failure is remembered by the local XP client which might temporarily prevent a hang when attempted a 2nd time within a minute or so (such "remembering" often
is forgotten after some time period so in the case that something has changed, previous failures won't prevent future lookups from succeeding indefinitely into the future).

Thanks for any added info (hopefully I can remember to check this Q for answers now...I'm a bit "absent-minded" at times...).


Lesc13Author Commented:
I have had a look we have no netware points and those suggestions that JBunston made were good but unfortunately not applicable to the situation.Tantrika the problem has been around for a while but it seems SP2 is a factor that enhances the problem due to the Profiles being loaded from the network. I have done some research there is 2 things I noticed but I am not sure how to go about it.

1.) In Win NT 4.0 You can rename the userenve.dll file to userenv.old and replace it with another file of the same name but it must have a certain flag status. This will then create a profile log in the root of the C drive so that I will be able to monitor for any errors on the profiles as the users log on. However I am not sure if there is a similar thing to do on 2K/XP workstations do any of you know?.

2.)Apparently on Windows NT Group Policy there is a Slow Net speed option which you can set. This option is suppose to determine what is the minimum network speed before it loads the Profile locally from cache instead of network any ideas?.

Only problem on my network is we have Cisco Catalyst 5000 and Cisco 2820 switches so some of the older segments of the network run 10 MBps Half Duplex and the other on 100MBps Full Duplex?.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far has really given me a lot of insight.

Tantrika when they browse over the start menu and for example programs that section or its sub section is greyed out
Forgive my ignorance in Win matters, but isn't the User's profile read from a server (or checked to be uptodate) when the user log's in?  Shouldn't the user's "profile", "start menu", "My docs", Fav, etc all be on the local work-station after they have finished logging in?  Is the Program Menu (and such) greyed shortly after login only, or do the "freezes" happen everytime, or do they ever NOT freeze, but then freeze again, later in the same login session?

On my local workstation, there is a file called "secpol.msc" in the system32 dir.

It has many local computer security settings.
Under Computer Configuration,Windows Settings,Local Policies,Security Options are a bunch of local options.
Two of them could affect login latency.  They may
not be the cause of the prolem you are seeing but might allow it to be worked around:

Interactive logon: Number of previous logons to cache (in case domain controller is not available) (mine is set to 10).
Interactive logon: Require Domain Controller authentication to unlock workstation (mine is disabled - thus if local credentials are stored/cached from prior logins, the user can still log in if the domain controller is not reachable.
Downside -- a cached user can disconnect from network and access the local workstation even though you may have deleted the user from the domain.

There is another policy in this same vein that allows the user to log in before fully waiting for the domain controller to respond with all policy updates for that user -- speeding up login time, at the cost of the user being able to temporarily being allowed to access the local computer with cached policies while the local computer waits for a domain controller policy update.  This is *new* for WinXP -- as a *feature*, since the time for the user to log in and start up a program can be reduced, but if this policy is set to force the wait, this could tie up interactive use until the policy has been fully downloaded and has updated the local computer.

Problem is, brain dosn't remember where this is set.
Might have to research books or poke around to remember.  Maybe someone else knows what I am referring to?

Lesc13Author Commented:

What you say is true in a sense and no unfortunately I cannot go that route to allow users access to the local workstation for any amount of time.I have decided what I want to do for now is to get better information is I am writing the event log's of a few randomly selected computers to my machine and monitoring them for errors so far this has given me lots of insight on the matter. However what I actually want to do is replace the %systemfolder%system32/userenv.dll with a flagged version of the same value and then add the required registry key so that it can write logon events in a log for me I think that might be the quickest way to get to the root of the problem.

I have had a look at the following which I got from a MS KB but it just opens the help file and I am unfimiliar with the command line utilisation of this app.

secedit /refresh policy machine_policy /enforce however when I run this command it just open up the help page for secedit which is quite unfriendly in any case.
just opens the help page!?  Bah! Humbug!...grumble MS strange/unpredictable behaviors!! :-)

To access the page I'm talking about I can also browse in Explorer to \windows\system32 and find the file 'secpol.msc' and click on it.  

The ability to log in simultaneously while fetching the security policy for the local user from the domain controller -- in parallel was touted as a *feature* -- since the time from boot to the user first being able to "do" something, was seen as a big negative to users, so MS added prefetching, disk layout and being able to run loging scripts and startup programs in parallel with giving the user an active task bar.  In a high security domain, though, one might not want the user to have any access until the security policies and scripts have *completed* rather than be running in parallel.  

It's likely described as a benefit in the Windows XP Professional [2] Insided/Out from MS Press.

Sorry, I'm noto famailiar with the CLI secedit either.

You still haven't mentioned (or maybe I've just missed it in an earlier post) -- if the problem happens everytime they access the start menu (in the ssame session), or if it is only the first access.  An alternate bit of data would be to log an XP client on, but don't touch anything.  Leave it for 5 minutes or something.  Then come back and see if you still have the delay when you first try it or if response time is "normal" (undelayed).  If that's the case then it is even more likely that it is the XP fast logon that makes this problem evident only on the XP client (maybe you've heard the saying: "It's not a bug, it's a feature!" :-))....

Here's a ditty from MS's web page :


Windows XP speeds up the initialization of the logon session by using prefetching, and by eliminating many unnecessary network delays—though of course there are situations where interactions across a network will be necessary. For example, some group policy changes will require your computer to exchange information across a network, and roaming profiles rely on interchanges of this sort. Many other interactions, however, can be safely eliminated. In Windows XP these interactions have been removed when possible; for example, by having the system use cached credentials for the user. Thus, network delays have been eliminated from the normal path for user logon—even in a domain.

Overall, these Windows XP logon improvements result in a much more satisfying user experience. This includes the centralized administration benefits provided by Microsoft Active Directory™.


We \could\ be looking at the result of the Win XP logon process being optimized for speed but some network interaction causing the eventual delay before the user can use their computer. I wonder, if, side-by-side, the WinXP computers are slower for the user to get an active "Progam Files" menu selection than on Win 2000.  I.e. in "clock time".  Is it a real "clock delay" where it takes longer, on the clock before they can access "Program Files" or is it because the WinXP users get to the "Start" menu faster?  (Just a datapoint/curiosity...).

Group policy .. it's the one that can hold up login or be looked up and applied in parallel.  So far, the only references found on the ms site also refer to active directory and editing/applying GP through Active Directory...bleh.  

There's a minor blurb in the Windows XP Deluxe Version (includes SP1) Inside-Out, p1165 in the Managing user profiles section (under administering a system).  Darned if I can figure out where they are talking about in that paragraph, though....

Hi Lesc13!

Lot's of great advice here experts!  I had a NT network quite some time ago with all win98 clients that we had locked those down using the very messy NT policies and the archaic policy editor.  We had similar trouble.  Sometimes brutally slow, but consistently slow, same with desktop icons.  

For a quick heads up on the math here, let's say you have 50 clients connecting to desktop and startmenu shortcuts on an NT server, every time the user clicks the startmenu or repaints the desktop  the client will go and fetch the icons from the server.  This is NASTY network overhead.  If you want to keep the users from meddling with desktops and can't afford the cost of upgrading to 2003 server and implementing some really serious group policy, might I suggest a product called Deep Freeze.

How many clients are there on your network?  On what switch does the server reside?  10? or 100?  

For a quick test, try taking one XP desktop and configure a policy for one user SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE'S NO ADMINISTRTATIVE STUFF and copy the start menu in the profile and move it to another server.  Test the XP desktop's performance when it is the only one connecting to the start menu over the network.

BETTER STILL! Save yourself some grief and stay a little late (if you can and don't run 24/7) and test the XP desktop with no network traffic and see if there is an improvement.  If there is significant improvement you either have a traffic problem or the NT server is choking on the workload.  Also be aware of the differences of how NT talks on the network and XP talks.  NT relies mostly on NetBT Or NetBios over TCP/IP  XP will use this but much prefers pure DNS or WINS server resolution.

Another suggestion would be to watch the load on the server.  There were SOOOO many changes to XP after SP2 including protocol stack there could be a miriad of reasons why this is brutally slow.  If you do not have a WINS server on your network I would HIGHLY suggest one due to the mixed client environment.  A DNS Server would also help. DNS and WINS server will provide huge benefits to the entire network. Not just XP.

Furthermore, roaming profiles are great but also copy temporary files for each user over the network every time they login logout reboot etc.  If you are having a lot of lockup issues this will also be adding to the network traffic and your troubles.

I really hope this works out.  Our policy implementation with Windows 98 and Windows NT was a GIANT pain in the A$$.  It worked, but mediocre in terms of performance.

Also if you are considering a domain upgrade to AD check out the Active Directory Migration Tool from Microsoft.  Makes Life Simple.


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Sorry to drone on it's late where I am and my brain won't stop.  This is a complicated problem although it doesn't look that way.  

One more thing you could try.

I don't know how many XP desktops you have but you could try setting the policy to get the Start menu from a folder local on the workstation and maybe use a script file to schedule a copy of the startmenu icons and any other pertinant profile items to the local workstation and giving the user read only access to the folder(s).

Thus you eliminate the network traffic.  the XP desktop could download the profile desktop and startmenu once or twice a day or overnight or WHATEVER.  BTW, roaming profiles copy TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES.

OK.  Good Nite ALL.

kanenet wrote:
> BTW, roaming profiles copy TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES.

    Egads...are you sure about this?  I thought IE's dir was under the "Local Settings" which is supposed to be stuff left on the local machine and not synch'ed to a DC.

If for some reason this is true, set IE's local disk cache to a low value on disk and use a squid proxy server as a more department or company or group (size?) caching mechanism.  Depends on the speed of the last node leg, though, if you have clients on 10Mb connections maybe they should be upgraded.  100Mb full-duplex boards are way cheap these days.

But with those connections, a fast squid server can serve cached data to a client at ~ 12M/s which is comparable to some lower-powered client's native disks -- especially if they are fragged.  Just give the server a good large memory 1-2G and some fast disks running FAT32 file system for the caching dir (or other options if linux based).

Lesc13Author Commented:
I have had a look at this and it seems like Kanenet is right. It does seem to hold my IE history of sites I browsed so therefore I resume it also copies the temporary internet files.And also whatever changes I make must also work on NT and 2K desktops.

Also I have already done what Kanenet suggested by running the XP workstation off the network and the Start Menu and browsing speed is like that of a normal desktop which is a million times more responsive than a machine on the network also I must agree with Kanenet NT is a GIANT pain in the a$$.

PS: Kanenet version 2 of ADMT is available note when you download it says what problems has been resolved since Version 1.And my AD rollout seems like going to happen 3rd quarter of next year only
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