This post provides background on why the login times in computer labs are different from personal computers, as well as ways IT Services is improving log ins.
Background on login times
The most frequent question we get asked is: “Why does it take so long to boot up and log in to computer lab computers?”
The first time you log in to any Windows-based computer, the operating system builds a unique profile for you.
Building your profile is hard drive intensive, as the computer is copying and creating new files. This can take about three to four minutes. After that initial log in, Windows then loads your custom profile more quickly.
Through the process of building a new profile, Windows is copying and creating personalized settings for all of the software that is installed on the computer.
There are over 200 applications installed on each computer, and some of those software packages are quite large, further increasing the time it takes to build your profile.
There are over 40,000 active users in our computer labs each semester, so storing custom profiles for each person isn’t realistic.
To keep your data secure and protect the computers against viruses, IT Services wipes all user and profile data off of the computer each time it reboots. Unlike your personal computer, your profile is cleared each time you log out in a computer lab.
When logging in, there are certain settings that Windows must download from the IT Services management server on boot and on log in for computer labs.
These settings control things such as the Start Menu, printer connections, desktop icons, and licensing information for software.
Ways we’re improving
The next question we often get is: “What are you going to do about the slow logins times?” We are constantly striving to improve the boot and login time of our computers.
Central setting management
With the rollout of Windows 7 in fall 2013, IT Services made major improvements to the way the computers get their settings from our central management server.
We streamlined the way updates are pushed to the computers for the various apps. Additionally, we looked at each setting individually and set it in such a way to maximize speed at log in.
IT Services re-evaluated the hardware specifications of the computers we are putting in computer labs.
Since most of the delay is due to hard disk work, all new computers installed in spring 2014 or later contain specialized and robust hard drives to increase processing speeds. This has cut the login time on these new computers down to a minute and a half.
Testing of software settings
IT Services reviews and rolls out software updates, improvements, and changes every semester. We are constantly testing new software settings and Windows configurations that can further improve the performance of the computers in labs.
Due to the unique nature of the computer labs, IT Services will probably never be able to duplicate the login speed of your personal computer, but that doesn’t mean we will stop trying to make your experience better.
IT Services is currently working on the next round of updates, and we continue to research ways to increase computer performance, as well as offer new software and services to help you get your work done.