W7 PC's randomly get stuck on "Applying Group Policy Folders Policy" during logon

Randomly we get users that get stuck logging on to the domain with the message "Applying Group Policy Folders Policy":

Applying Group Policy Folders Policy
On average we probably get one user (out of approx 200) suffer from this each morning, but sometimes it is no-one and sometimes it is 2 or 3 users.

In order to fix the problem we do the following:

Power off the PC
Log on as local administrator
ipconfig /release then /renew
reboot
log on as domain administrator
log off
Then get the user to log on.

(one or more of these actions might be the fix - sometimes we have just powered off, logged on as domain admin, logged off and then the user could log on.  Other times I have tried this and the user got the problem straight away and it seemed the ipconfig /release /renew was needed).

This then seems to fix the problem for a random amount of time, they might suffer the problem in a few days, a week or never.

I am struggling to see a pattern to the problem or anything particularly useful in the event viewer.  

The only possible link I may have seen is that this is potentially a DNS/DHCP problem.  A while ago, one user suffered this problem every Thursday morning for 3 or 4 weeks in a row.  This instantly made me think that perhaps it was linked to an IP address lease time.  I deleted this PC's DNS and DHCP entries and then the problem stopped for them for months, until randomly they got it again one morning.  This could have been a coincidence.

So I am not really sure where to start investigating as I am not seeing too much useful in the event viewer on the local PC.
fieldjAsked:
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VB ITSSpecialist ConsultantCommented:
I'd look at updating the NIC drivers on the problematic machines as a first step.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
In addition to the above try running TCP/IP Reset.

Open cmd.exe with Run as Administrator
Then  netsh int ip reset c:\resetlog.txt
Also, ipconfig /flushdns followed by net stop dnscache followed by net start dnscache
Then restart the computer

This, together with the NIC driver update, may help.
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
Regarding the NIC drivers, we are seeing this on more than one make/model of PC with completely different NIC's.

Its not problem to run the above on the client PC's when the problem occurs, but to be honest I already have a fix if/when the problem occurs as described in my first post.

I am looking to fix the problem at its core and prevent it from happening in the first place.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Your fix relates to TCP/IP, so try the Reset and Flush DNS to see if that helps.
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
On every client PC?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Try one or two and see if that helps. We cannot know unless we try.

I am not sure what is wrong with your network that IP Release / Renew fixes the problem.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Also look at the Network Properties to make sure that the NIC is attached to Work or Domain and then the settings in Advanced Network Sharing are appropriate for your network.

Again, try this on the same one or two computers.
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VB ITSSpecialist ConsultantCommented:
Are the problem machines connected to the same network switch perhaps?
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
The network and domain settings are all correct in the NIC settings.

As I said in my original post, I am not 100% sure that the IP release/renew does do anything, it might just be a reboot and then log on as domain admin as normally the user can log on normally after I do this.

I will flush the DNS etc when I next get this problem, but would welcome other thoughts about what might be causing this problem at the core.
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
VB ITS -  they will all be connected to a core switch (which is 6 x switches stacked together).  

However, now you mention it I dont think we have had the issue on the other side of our building which is on a different switch and I dont think any of our virtual PC's have had this problem.

I will try to work out if the ones where I know the problem has occurred are connected to the same switch.
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Rob GMicrosoft Systems EngineerCommented:
Just a thought.. In some versions of NIC drivers as well as some switches, using AutoNegotiate on both ends can cause this.. If you change one of the problematic machines to use a full duplex setting rather then the auto function, this might resolve your issue.. It did on a client that used Dell Switches..

Another possible issue, which depending on where your DNS is run, if it is off the Domain controller, it can be caused by something called LastLogonTimeStamp which is a setting on the DC which controls the updated logon information on the domain controller.. In 2k8-2k12 it is default at 9-14 days, but in 2k3 and prior it is set at 0 which updates that status on login, rather then the poll method which takes a few days. If that is the scenario, you can be having this issue due to latency..
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
Rob G -

Dns is controlled by  3 x DC's, two of which are Server 2003, one of which is Server 2008 r2.

I have a feeling that this issue may have roughly coincided with the introduction of the most recent DC (the 2008R2 machine).

Perhaps something is getting confused here.  Can you let me know where I can check this setting?
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Rob GMicrosoft Systems EngineerCommented:
Field,
You can check when it happens against the DC with this command..

repadmin /showattr * (DN of the target user) /attrs:lastLogontimeStamp >lastLogontimeStamp.txt

However,
I assume you are running then in 2k3 Domain level, so the 2k8+ server shouldn't have any issues here.. You only start to have these issues, when people move the domain level up to 2k8+ and still have lingering 2k3 domain controllers floating around.. (You ask.. Why would one do this.. Who knows) But that would cause these issues..
In this case, multiple DC's i would see if i can pin-point what/which DC those users are logging into.. If you see a pattern, then there might be a load issue on the DC's.. Or possibly a replication issue.

You can check to see if there is a replication issue, by checking for consistency, there might be some truth to the 2k8 based DC causing issues, as it is possible some things in 2k3 do not exist in 2k8 by design, and can cause this..  
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc770963.aspx
This link will help you on that..
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
I *think* that when we introduced the 2008r2 server, we had to upgrade the domain/Active Directory etc up to the 2008r2 level or it was not possible.

In fact I just checked that in AD and it looks like that is the case:

Domain Level
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
Apologies, Ive been a bit stupid and forgot that we dont have any Server 2003 DC's!

We have 2 x 2008 (one of which is the PDC)
and 2 x 2008 R2

We definitely still had to do some kind of AD/Domain upgrade though when introducing the R2 DC.
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Rob GMicrosoft Systems EngineerCommented:
Oh ok.. I was scared there for a second.. Because, that other 2k3 mixture would cause all sorts of new issues, that no IT person.. EVER wants to deal with.. LOL

Do you have all the servers patched to the same revision?
I know in 2k8R2 they are a little better about that.. But 2k8 (From my experience) works flaky in mixed DC environments when they are running varying patches..
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
Is there a command I can use to remotely check which domain controller a PC is connected to?

I know that on the PC I can do "echo %logonserver%", but I need to try and do this remotely to the PC that is having the problem at the time.
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Rob GMicrosoft Systems EngineerCommented:
You should be able to use PStools to connect to it, even if it is hanging in the applying policy state.

psexec.exe \\pcname cmd

Once in there, you can use the "echo %logonserver%" or systeminfo

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896649.aspx
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
Thanks Rob, I will get on to that and report back when I have have gathered some data.
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
I am trying to do some testing with PSexec, and although I can connect to a remote computer just fine and I can execute commands like ipconfig etc, for some reason I cannot find out the logonserver!

If I execute "echo %logonserver%, it just returns the word %logonserver%

If I execute systeminfo, it lists everything except the logonserver (where it says "N/A")

If I execute SET L it shows the localappdate, but not the logon server!

Argh!  Any ideas?
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Daniel KellenersCommented:
We got exact the same problem in Windows 7 with a Server 2008 R2 domain controller. Randomly users report they stuck on the message "Applying Group Policy Folders Policy". I walked through all GPOs but I can’t find a user policy which applies folder settings.

Did you find the cause of this problem?
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fieldjAuthor Commented:
the problem has gone, not sure why
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