Great article on battery life

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How I added four hours of battery life to my smartphone every day for free

Jennifer Jolly, Special for USA TODAY

I’ve had big-time battery drain issues on my last three iPhones. I just figured it was my fault — maybe I’m too addicted to apps, take too many photos, or just use my phone too much?

There are simple steps to help you save battery life on an Android or iPhone. Turns out, closing apps is not one of them.

Karen Bleier, AFP/Getty Images

It’s an issue I’ve gone to Apple for help with many times. But the Genius’s — Apple’s retail support — were flummoxed, too. After the typical troubleshooting: Update iOS? Check. Adjust screen brightness? Check. Use Wi-Fi when possible, turn off location services, and tone down notifications? Check, check, and check again. Nothing seems to solve the issues. Maybe I got the phone wet?

It was time to kick things up to the next level. I enlisted experts like Scotty Loveless, a former Apple Genius and iOS tech who told me this would not be another, “turn off every useful feature of iOS posts…” because those “really grind my gears.” Finally, someone speaking my language!

With that said, here’s how I finally beat the worst of my battery battles — and now you can, too.


Your battery should only be doing its heavy lifting when you’re actually using your iPhone, and the rest of the time it should be relaxing in standby mode. Sometimes an app prevents your phone from going into standby and wreaks havoc on your battery life.

Here’s how to test it:

Go into Settings > Battery. Scroll all the way down to the bottom and you’ll find two numbers, one for Standby and one for Usage. Your Usage number should be way, way lower than your Standby number. If it’s not, you might have a problem, and you can confirm it by jotting down your Standby and Usage times and then clicking the lock button on your phone. Let it sit for about five minutes and then check the numbers again. If your Standby time is five minutes higher, you’re in good shape, but if your Usage time has bumped up by a more than a minute it’s a sign that your phone isn’t resting like it should.

On Android, you can get the same information under Settings > Device > Battery (or Settings > Battery if you have a newer version of Android). The information on this menu is essentially the same as it is on an iPhone, and lists “Device Idle” which is the same as standby mode.

If you find that your phone isn’t “resting” when you’re not using it, there’s likely a very clear reason, which brings us to #2.


When an app is doing things even when you’re not using it, it could be malfunctioning, and stuck in an endless loop that’s draining all your power. That’s what happened to me, with, of all things, one of the email accounts I had connected to my phone. Loveless picked up on this right away. “This happens unbelievably often, especially with Exchange push email,” he said. “I knew when you told me your phone typically dies within six hours of being off the charger, and the Standby and Usage are the same. Sometimes, these times are not the same because the ‘firmware is bad or corrupted,’ but this time it’s because push email is keeping the phone from sleeping properly.”

The fix was simple.

Go into Settings > Mail > Accounts> Fetch New Data. Mine was automatically set to Push. Loveless recommended that I set it turn that off temporarily and set it to Fetch every 15 to 30 minutes instead. You can also use the Manual mode, which only scans for new messages when you actually open the email app.

You can also tweak the push settings to fetch new emails only every hour or so, which is also a big help. You don’t sacrifice timely email updates either, though you’ll still save the most power by disabling push emails altogether.

On an Android phone, you can manage the push notification settings for any apps that use it by heading into Settings > Apps and then picking an app and tweaking its individual settings.


There are other times too when an app is running when you’re not using it and that’s called “Background App Refresh.” There are lots of reasons apps update in the background, like the Music app fetching new playlists, Facebook updating your social feeds, and even Pokemon Go keeping an eye on your steps so you can hatch eggs. It’s all in the name of convenience, but it might also be leaving you with a dead battery halfway through the afternoon.

To check out which apps are eating up valuable power in the background go to Settings > Battery and you’ll see a list of the apps taking up your battery life, with the topmost app being the biggest power hog. If you see an app listed with “Background Activity” below it, that’s when you know it’s using power even when you’re not using it. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and streaming apps like Apple Music can be real demons in this department, so head to your Settings > General > Background App Refresh page and toggle off any apps you don’t want working overtime to save some serious juice.


A 2013 file photo shows a person using an Apple iPhone 5c mobile phone at an Apple store in New York, NY.

Justin Lane, EPA, EPA FILE

Do you ever double-tap your home button and see all the apps your iPhone has suspended, waiting for you to go back to them? Whenever I do, I always close them out of instinct, thinking that they must be eating up battery life, right? Nope! In fact, Loveless says that closing apps from the multitasking menu can actually hurt the iPhone’s overall battery life, and for a totally logical reason.

Just because you see an app sitting in the multitasking menu doesn’t mean it’s actually using your battery life at all — it’s just paused, sitting in the phone’s memory and not doing much of anything. When you close it, the phone shuts it down, but when you inevitably open the app back up, it forces your phone to load all that data back up again, and that means it’s using valuable power and ticking down your reserves. Just leave the apps alone and you’ll be doing yourself and your battery a favor.

On Android, finding the apps that are running is as easy as pulling the top menu bar down, which brings up a list of the apps either running or paused. You can choose to close them, but again, the idea is that by leaving them on you’re actually saving more power, so just leave them be.


Android and iOS both come with low-power features that let you turn off almost all of your phone’s extra features anytime and save tons of energy throughout the day. You can turn it on when the battery drops to 20% or much earlier — by going to Settings > Battery > Low Power Mode and switching it on.

On Android, the battery saving feature kicks in automatically if you leave your settings as-is, but you can also manually turn it on by going to Settings > Battery then tap the menu icon and select “Battery Saver.”

It can be a real life saver, and it has the bonus benefit of preventing even more battery stress by depleting a dying battery even further than it already is.

There are other little things you can do, too, which many other writers have mentioned. But fixing the email and background activity issues on my own phone has already added more than FOUR HOURS of battery life back into my day. That’s nothing short of a miracle in my book.


Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech contributor and host of USA TODAY’s digital video show TECH NOW. E-mail her at Follow her on Twitter @JenniferJolly .

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How to take a screen shot on mac

Command + Shift + 4 = region capture

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Snipping tool hot keys

Use Snipping Tool to capture screen shots

If you want to capture a snip of a menu, such as the Start menu, follow these steps:

  1. Click to open Snipping Tool.

  2. After you open Snipping Tool, press Esc, and then open the menu that you want to capture.

  3. Press Ctrl+PrtScn.

  4. Click the arrow next to the New button, select Free-form Snip, Rectangular Snip, Window Snip, or Full-screen Snip from the list, and then select the area of your screen that you want to capture.

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Windows 8.1 Tablet or IPad?


Using a bluetooth keyboard with both, I’ve not figured out which I like better. What’s your opinion?

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Media center for windows 8

Get your windows 8 pack free while it lasts!

Add Windows 8 Pro Pack or Windows 8 Media Center Pack to your edition of Windows

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Search.

    (If you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, and then click Search.)

  2. Enter add features in the search box, and then tap or click Settings .
  3. Tap or click Add features to Windows 8 and then do one of the following:
    • If you need to purchase a product key, tap or click I want to buy a product key online.

      You will be prompted through the steps to buy a product key from there and it will be entered for you.

    • If you already have a product key, tap or click I already have a product key.
  4. Enter your product key and click Next.
  5. Read the license terms, select the check box to accept the license terms, and then click Add features.
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Creating bootable USB using Diskpart and using it to install Windows 7


There has got to be a way to create a bootable USB drive using Windows! In this article I will describe how to do it with nothing more than the Windows DVD and a separate Windows workstation. First of all, I hate that HP utility that needs a floppy. What the tarnation is that? If you don’t have a DVD of a floppy drive you need this method.

Before we begin you will need to know a few things. You will need to know the drive letters of your drives such as the DVD drive with the Windows 7 media, the drive letter the USB stick.

Umbrella WARNING: The drive letter of the USB drive might change during this process.
Umbrella WARNING: All information on your USB drive will be erased.
Umbrella WARNING: Your USB drive must be large enough to store the content of your DVD drive. (3 GB or larger)
Umbrella WARNING: This article assumes you have significant administrative experience and understand the consequences of each command. Proceed at your own risk.

Task 1: Making the USB drive an Active Primary Partition.

  1. Open a command prompt (with administrative rights if required by your OS).
  2. At the command Prompt type Diskpart and press enter
  3. Type List Disk and press enter
  4. You will see a list of all the disks on your computer.. A number will identify each disk.
    1. If you do not know which disk is you USB drive go through the list by typing Select Disk 1 enter and then type details. repeat until you know you are on the right USB drive. Hint: It is probably the last one.
  5. Type select disk 4* and press enter. The system will report: “Disk 4* is now selected” (*Where disk 4 is the number of the USB drive, change this number to reflect your system).
  6. Type Clean and press enter. The system will report “DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk.” This will remove the disk from your current drive letter for your USB.
  7. Type create partition primary and press enter. The system will report “DiskPart succeeded in creating the specified partition.”
  8. Type select partition 1 and press enter. The system will report “Partition 1 is now the selected partition.”
  9. Type active and press enter. The system will report “DiskPart Marked the current partition as active.”
  10. Type assign and press enter.  The system will report “DiskPart successfully assigned a drive letter …”
  11. Type detail disk and press enter. Details will be listed and under the column heading “LTR” you will see the drive letter. I will assume it is U: for the remainder of the explanation.
  12. Type  exit  and press enter. This will leave the DiskPart context.

Task 2: Formating the USB Drive and copying the install files.

  1. If the command prompt is not still open, open the command prompt.
  2. Type format U: /fs:fat32 /q and press enter. (Where U: is the letter of your USB Drive)
  3. A warning will appear indicating all information on the drive will be lost. Type Y and press enter.
  4. You will be prompted to enter a label for the drive. Press enter to continue.
  5. We have now formatted the drive and can proceed to copying the files. Assuming Drive d: for DVD and Drive u: for USB
  6. Type xcopy d:\*.* /s/e/f u:\  . The files will copy and may take a long time depending on the USB drive performance.

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Talking Tech: What Happened to the Boot Options Menu in Windows 8?

I’m writing this less than a week after the official launch of Windows 8. Lots of people are excited about the OS and enjoying the new experience, but as with any new product, there are glitches. Already I’ve been called on to help several people troubleshoot the worst case scenario for any operating system upgrade: the endless loop that prevents you from booting into the OS. We saw it happen with service packs on some XP and Vista computers, and it seems Windows 8 – despite its many improvements – isn’t immune.

This time it’s related to the first update released for Windows 8, that addresses some of the “post launch issues” people were having. It shows up in Windows Update as “Update for Windows 8 for x64-based Systems” (KB 2756872). I installed it on October 27 on my HP Pavillion HPE Core i7 machine with no problems, and it seems to have fixed a problem I was having whereby the screen would go black for a second and I’d get the “Display driver stopped responding and has recovered” error message at frequent intervals (a couple of times per hour).

However, I started hearing from some friends who had installed the update and found themselves stuck in the dreaded loop, with the update installation getting hung at 13% and going no further. Restarting just throws it back into the update installation, which again gets stuck at 13%. Big ouch.

Some investigation indicates that it’s happening to people with newer HP computers (mine is about a year old and apparently that accounts for its being spared this fate) and that it has to do with a driver. Folks were advised to uninstall the audio drivers and try the update again – but wait a minute. How do you do that when you can’t boot into the operating system?

Of course, if you’ve been around Windows for a long time, you know that driver issues used to be fairly easy to deal with. You just start the computer using the Last Known Good (LKG) configuration, or boot into Safe Mode, which disables most drivers. So what’s the problem? Well, you got to those options by hitting the F8 key during the startup process, thereby invoking a menu of advanced boot options from which you could select. So that’s what a lot of people tried to do, and that’s how they discovered that the F8 boot menu functionality has been removed. Oops. Welcome to Windows 8; it’s a brave new world.

We all hope Windows 8 will be a lot more stable than its predecessors (and so far, it seems to be) but this update incident proves that there are going to be times when we aren’t able to reach Windows . Why, oh why would they take away this trusty troubleshooting technique that we’ve relied upon for so long? Well, there’s actually a good reason for that – the bootup process on Windows 8 computers is so blazing fast that there’s not time to press a key and invoke a hardware interrupt. Okay, that makes sense. Heck, I’ve missed the short window of opportunity more than once when attempting to get into the boot options on a Windows 7 machine – unlike back in the not-so-good old days of running XP on a single core computer, when you had all the time in the world.

Windows 8 replaced the F8 boot menu with a new, graphical Advanced Options menu styled to match the TIFKAM (The Interface Formerly Known As Metro) look, shown in the screenshot.

Ah, but how do you get to this nice new options menu, and where do you find the options you’re looking for once you get there? There’s the rub.

If you do a web search for “Windows 8 Advanced Startup Options,” or “Windows 8 Safe Mode,” you’ll find plenty of documentation for this feature. However, most are like this article; they will tell you that to get to the menu, you need to start by using the Search feature in Windows 8 to find “Advanced Startup” and click “Restart now.” Ummmm. How are you going to do that when you can’t boot into Windows to begin with?

At this point, some folks were getting pretty frustrated. Fact is, there’s more than one way to do most things in Windows, and this is no exception. You can configure the UEFI settings on your computer to display this menu at startup, and in many cases Windows detects when you’re having trouble booting the OS and brings it up automatically (this is supposed to happen if Windows fails to launch properly twice in a row).

Some people were still confused after they got to the menu. There are lots of options there, such as System Restore and Automatic Repair, but these weren’t working to fix the update hangup for some of my friends – and they didn’t see Safe Mode anywhere in sight. Well, that’s because it’s not actually in sight; it’s hidden in yet another menu. The Windows Startup Settings selection at the end of the list doesn’t give any indication of what’s hiding behind it, but if you go there, you’ll see options that include enabling low-resolution video mode, debugging mode, boot logging, and – yes! There is the option to Enable Safe Mode.

Problem solved. Or is it? Well, maybe not, if you have a newer system that has a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) instead of a traditional BIOS. When I showed my screen shots to some of the friends who were having problems, they responded with the news that the Startup Settings option didn’t exist in their Advanced Startup menus. Instead, theirs looked like this:

Instead of the Startup Settings option, they have UEFI Firmware Settings. “Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (if you don’t recognize that quote, just move along). According to what I’ve read, you should be able to change those UEFI settings to display Safe Mode, but that’s going to depend on what the hardware vendor has provided in the UEFI interface for that computer.

The good news is that System Restore is working for at least some of the “hung up update” victims, but the inability to access Safe Mode when you’re locked out of the OS seems to me like something that’s going to cause some serious problems. I’ve already received a lot of “customer not delighted” feedback on this one.

Tell us what you think. Did Microsoft go wrong by making Windows 8 boot so fast that no one can get an F8 in edgewise? Do you like the new “Don’t worry; we’ll decide when you need the advanced options and give them to you then” philosophy, or does it seem as if things are getting a little too dumbed down and Apple-like for those of us who want to be in control of our systems? Let us know about your thoughts, opinions and experiences relating to this topic in our forum or email me.

UPDATE: It seems my display driver problem is back after a reboot. I’ll be delving into that problem further and reporting back here if and when I find the solution. Meanwhile, let me know if you’ve experienced this with Windows 8 and if so, what video card(s) are you using? I have a pair of AMD Radeon HD 6570s installed, and I didn’t have the problem when running the Windows 8 Consumer Preview or the Release Preview on the same hardware.

Point of View: The Microsoft mobile dilemma

I’ve upgraded my Windows 8 computers to the final release and for the most part, I love Win8 on the desktop. Oh, I have a few gripes – I miss the elegant look of Aero and I want my gadgets back – but it’s fast and smooth and fun and after working with it for a while, I find my productivity is up.

Windows 8 was designed for touch screens, and I love using it on our HP TouchSmart kitchen computer. Windows 8 phone is the best Windows Phone yet, with an exciting new look and some great features, and it corrected a number of the gripes I had with Windows Phone 7. A whole slew of Windows 8 tablets and convertible laptops are either already released or coming soon, and a nice assortment of Windows 8 phones have been announced and will be available through most of the major wireless carriers for the holiday season.

You might be wondering, then: Why did I just buy a Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet running Android, and why am I planning to upgrade my phone to an Android-based Galaxy Note II when it becomes eligible for another upgrade next month, instead of one of those new Windows devices? It’s a fair question and my answer is that, like so many of my friends’ relationships on Facebook, it’s complicated.

Full disclosure here: As a Microsoft full time employee, my husband gets a free Surface tablet, so I’ll have access to one of those soon without having to shell out the dough. My son went out and bought a Lenovo Yoga 13, which is a Windows 8 convertible laptop/tablet, a few days after they were released. I’ve played with the Lenovo and it’s a pretty impressive machine. And it’s not only my family members who are impressed. A friend and fellow tech writer, Donovan Colbert, described his initial reaction to the Yoga this way: “I hate to be an Internet teen girl about this … but … OMG <3<3<3 :D.”

There’s a lot to love about the Yoga. Windows 8 runs beautifully on the powerful hardware (i5 or i7 with 4 or 8 GB of RAM). It’s fairly thin and light for a laptop (a little under three and half pounds) and has all the bells and whistles – both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, HDMI out, an SD card slot. The 1600 x 900 display looks pretty good and battery life is around 8 hours – not bad for something that runs the full version of Windows.

Lenovo isn’t the only company that has been tempting me with its Windows 8 mobile offerings. Samsung will soon release the ATIV “smart PC,” also a Core i5 tablet/notebook. Its main attraction is the S Pen, which was the reason I bought the Note 10.1 and which makes precise drawing and masking in graphics programs a breeze. (Other Windows 8 Pro tablets, such as the Yoga, also support use of digital pens but the ATIV comes with one built into the device).

Another advantage of the ATIV is that its keyboard is detachable. That means you can lighten the load when you want to use it only as a tablet. The Yoga’s design is interesting but a little odd; the keyboard folds all the way back under the screen for tablet use. That means the keyboard is exposed on the bottom of the device, which is a little disconcerting (although it automatically disables itself when in tablet mode). I worry about the keyboard getting dirty and/or damaged in that configuration. The ATIV claims the same battery life as the Yoga, but it’s not available with the i7 processor or the 8 GB of RAM. Display resolution is better, though: 1920 x 1080.

One big reason I haven’t bought a Windows tablet is because I’m waiting to see what else comes down the pike for the holiday season. Will someone come up with one that combines what I like about the Yoga with what I like about the ATIV? Past experience says that will inevitably happen the day after I make the commitment and buy one. One way or another, a Windows touchscreen laptop and/or tablet is almost certainly in my future; I just don’t know at this point which one it will be. As for a Windows 8 phone, well … I’m not so sure about that.

Microsoft has made great strides with the latest version of Windows Phone. It has become a little less “Apple-like” now that you can use swappable microSD cards and the phones have multiple core processors and better screen resolution. Of course, 4G is the biggest deal for many people; no way was I going back to a slow 3G connection for a Windows Phone 7 device after tasting LTE on Android. Months before Windows Phone 8 was released – but after the specs were announced – I wrote up an article for TechRepublic giving 10 reasons I wanted a Windows Phone 8 device.

Nokia, Samsung and HTC have come out with some gorgeous WP8 devices. They’re sleek and fast and feel good in the hand. Why not get one as my primary phone, then? Here are my reasons:

  • Ecosystem investment. I’ve been using Android phones for the last several years and I’ve purchased apps that I reinstall on each new ‘droid I get. Some of those apps are also available now for Windows Phone and some aren’t, but even for those that are, I’d have to buy them all over again. Sure, the cost of most phone apps is only a few dollars, but it’s a few dollars I don’t have to spend if I stick with Android.
  • Still-missing features. Although Microsoft is catching up, and indeed offers some features that other platforms don’t, it’s still missing some of those that I like most about Android. For instance, although they advertised “turn by turn navigation” built into WP8, it turns out that doesn’t include voice directions. Say what? I’m supposed to peer at the screen while driving to figure out where to go? Google Nav is one of the functionalities I depend on most, so that’s something of a deal-breaker for me.
  • All about the apps. As mentioned above, the ecosystem is important. Too many of the apps I use on Android aren’t there yet for WP8. This could (and I hope, will) change, now that Microsoft no longer has reason to withhold the SDK from third party developers in order to keep the phone features secret. But will there be apps for Google services (G+, Gmail, Google Voice, etc.) that many of us use on our Windows desktop and laptop machines?
  • The freedom factor. The garden in which WP8 lives doesn’t have walls nearly as high as those of the iDevices. You can add storage via microSD and you no longer have to connect to Zune (shades of iTunes) to update your software. You have choices between different hardware configurations from different vendors and you can get a Windows Phone 8 (Samsung ATIV S) with a removable battery. But it’s still difficult to sideload apps, and you can’t browse the file system on the phone as you can with Android.
  • Final Note. The biggest reason I’m not getting a WP8 phone right now is the Note II itself. It’s not the right choice for everyone, but for someone who really wants the “phablet” form factor (a device big enough to function pretty much as a tablet that also makes phone calls and is still small enough to fit in a pocket or fanny pack), it’s “the one.” I love my current Galaxy S III but there is a possibility that I could be persuaded to trade it in for a WP8 device (assuming a third party app adds voice navigation) if the Note weren’t on the horizon. But after careful comparisons of all the feature sets, that’s the phone that best fits my own personal needs.

The takeaway here is that, even though I haven’t rushed out and bought myself a Windows 8 tablet or a WP8 phone (and in the latter case, probably won’t, at least for a long time), it’s not because I don’t think they’re excellent products, and I still recommend them whole-heartedly. Many of my own preferences don’t apply at all to consumers or “semi-geeks” – only to people like me who want a phone that is basically a small computer on which I can have the same level of control I have on my “real” computers.

If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would go out and buy myself a shiny new Windows 8 laptop/tablet immediately, and I’d get myself a WP8 phone to carry along with the Note. The odds of that are low (especially since I never buy a ticket) but I do believe Microsoft is getting there, and will most likely eventually win me over in the mobile space. What do you think about Microsoft’s new mobile devices? Will you be buying one this holiday season, or are you waiting for the platform to mature even more? Do you prefer iOS or Android on mobile devices? What are the must-have features that Microsoft needs to add in order to lure you away? Share your thoughts, opinions and experiences in our forum or email me.


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Windows 8 shortcut keys

Yes, Windows 8 does work most naturally in a touch- or gesture-based environment. But if you’re using a traditional mouse and keyboard, Microsoft has enabled tons of new keyboard shortcuts to let you access the best Windows 8 tools. Here’s a list of some of the most useful commands (courtesy of Microsoft):

Windows logo key + start typing: Search your PC

Ctrl+plus (+) or Ctrl+minus (-): Zoom in or out of many items, like apps pinned to the Start screen or in the Store

Ctrl+scroll wheel: Zoom in or out of many items, like apps pinned to the Start screen or in the Store

Windows logo key + C: Open the charms

Windows logo key + F: Open the Search charm

Windows logo key +H: Open the Share charm

Windows logo key +I: Open the Settings charm

Windows logo key + K: Open the Devices charm

Windows logo key + O: Lock the screen orientation (portrait or landscape)

Windows logo key + Z: Open commands for the app

Windows logo key + PgUp: Move the Start screen and apps to the monitor on the right (apps in the desktop won’t change monitors)

Windows logo key + PgDn: Move the Start screen and apps to the monitor on the left (apps in the desktop won’t change monitors)


Windows logo key + Shift+period (.): Snap an app to the left

Windows logo key + period (.): Snap an app to the right


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windows 7 remote assistance

msra /offerRA hostname

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Analyzing Slow Logons:

Analyzing Slow Logons:

You can determine which part of the login is slow by enabling the userenv.log in verbose mode on the client machine which will tell you how much time is taken at each process of the logon.  You must do this with a registry hack…  Start > Run > Regedit

Then drill down to:


Create key D_WORD

UserEnvDebugLevel = 10002 (Hex)

Then do your logon. After logon check C:\Winnt\Debug\Usermode\userenv.log

It will show you the details of your logon and probably help you pinpoint which part of the logon is slow.  One thing though, you might need to take time to analyze the log as it can be quite long

Additionally, other things to ck/chg for speeding up logons:

If you are not configuring Computer GPO’s in AD and are only using the User configurations setting (nothing applied in the computer configurations settings  – so the logins were running through the user settings and then sitting there in the computer settings) check to disable the computer setting.

disable all offline synchronization

disable all file and print sharing

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