Tag Archives: optimization

Windows 10 Optimization: The untold story

For a few weeks, people in my house kept bugging me to fix our Internet problem. From time-to-time, devices were not able to connect. No eMail. No NetFlix. No Minecraft (this last one was devastating).

I tracked the issue down to my wireless router. The 4-5 year old device was extremely hot. There were 50+ devices connected to it!

After purchasing a new one, all of the connectivity issues went away. As I started looking at the features of the new router, I saw that there is a traffic monitor built-in. So, I turned it on.

The thing I find interesting with this graph at 3 AM.

There is a spike in the middle of the night. I tracked this over a few days and the spike consistently shows up. After doing some digging, it turns out that these spikes are my Windows 10 PCs and my Windows 7 Media Center PC doing their nightly updates.

This brings about an interesting point with regards to Windows 10 optimization. Although we said in Windows 10 Optimization Results blog that the optimizations gave us about a 20% boost in server density, what we have to remember is that many of the optimizations we implemented won’t be accounted for in the test time period.

Take the scheduled task “Customer Experience Improvement Program \ Consolidator” as an example. It runs every 6 hours starting at midnight. In order for this optimization to be reflected in our test results, the test must be run at one of the respective intervals. If my test only runs for 1 hour, there is a good probability I will not have a test running when this task is executing.

Many of the other scheduled tasks run at startup. Most performance tests I’ve seen only focus on the steady state, which means most of the startup scheduled tasks are also missed as part of the test.

So does this mean our 20% benefit for running the optimizations are false? Of course not, but it does indicate that over the course of a workday or workweek, the benefit might be larger than 20%.

But in the end, nothing will ever be better than a real-world comparison.

Daniel ()
XenApp & XenDesktop Best Practices
XenApp & XenDesktop Videos

Windows 10 Optimization: Part 8 – The Results

Statistics are fun. It is amazing what interesting insights you can get from statistics. For example

  1. About 20% of workers would work harder if their employer offered a $1,000 shopping spree at the store of their choice – You hear that Citrix!
  2. About 20% of the people who watch the Super Bowl do so for football, the rest watch commercials
  3. About 20% of copy machine issues worldwide are caused by people sitting on them – That is awesome
  4. Over the past year, my blogs are 20% funnier

And my absolute favorite statistic is from Homer Simpson (who else):

  1. People can come up with statistics to prove anything Kent, forty percent of all people know that.

As you’ve seen, we’ve been creating a Windows 10 optimization guide. The Windows 10 optimization guide was focused on identifying, for VDI, as many of the extra components that would negatively impact server density, while focusing on balancing the user experience, as stated in the XenApp Best Practice: For the best combination of user experience and resource consumption, optimize appropriately.

Over the course of several blogs, we looked at optimizing the following items:

  1. Default apps
  2. Services
  3. Scheduled tasks
  4. User Interface
  5. Runtime
  6. Release
  7. ICA

Now the big question is

“What impact did these modifications have?”

First, it gave me something to blog about (This is a big deal. After 5+ years of blogging, I’m running out of ideas).

But most of you probably care about the second part… What was the impact on server density? And for this, my minions, I mean the Citrix Solutions Lab, took over. (We joke that the Citrix Solutions Lab should rename themselves to Feller’s Lab because it seems like they do a lot of testing for me – pity them).

For the series of tests, we had two different policies, one would simply turn on the Citrix “High Server Scalability” policy setting. This corresponded to Part 7 of the Windows 10 optimization blog.

The second policy we applied were all of the Windows 10 optimizations we discussed in Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Windows 10 optimization blog series.

Turning the Citrix Scalability policy on, gave us a 10% bump in user density.

Turning on the custom OS optimization policy gave us almost another 10% bump in density.

Turning both of these options on equaled roughly 20% more users on our physical host.

Definitely, not a bad start

Daniel ()
XenApp Best Practices
XenApp Videos

Windows 10 Optimization – Part 7: ICA

MowerWere you planning to buy that? Nope.

Of course, as you saw in my previous blog, my stupid lawn mower wheel snapped off with only 30 minutes left in the season! D’oh!

Figured I would just head to the local hardware store and buy a new one. Guess what? Hardware stores in Minnesota don’t sell lawn mowers in late October. I guess no one wants to mow snow, although it might look cool. I went home, got online and eventually ordered a new mower, which happened to be battery-powered. I still can’t believe I did it, but here is why:

Pros Cons
(Wonder when kids can start mowing)
Can’t mow all day on single charge
(I wouldn’t do this with gas anyways)
No more gas & oil messes Doesn’t look very manly
No more winterizing mower Doesn’t look very manly
(No more ear protection)
Doesn’t look very manly

So in the end,

  1.     I wasn’t planning to buy a lawn mower
  2.     I definitely wasn’t planning to buy a battery-powered lawn mower
  3.     I wasn’t planning to write another portion for the Windows 10 optimization series

This portion of the optimization series was not in my original plan because it was not a specific change to the underlying operating system, but should that matter? Originally, I thought yes it does matter, which is why I wasn’t going to include it in the series. But remember, the entire time we talked about different optimizations, we always came back to the

XenApp best practice of:

For the best combination of user experience and resource consumption, optimize appropriately

We followed this for

  1.     Default apps
  2.     Services
  3.     Scheduled tasks
  4.     User Interface
  5.     Runtime
  6.     Release

So, why not look at ICA?

First, take a look at Mayunk Jain’s blog on Why you should care about HDX.

Ok, I’m sold. So let’s do it.

Optimization Description
High Server Scalability This template balances user experience and server scalability. It offers a good user experience while increasing the number of users you can host on a single server. This template does not use video codec for compression of graphics and prevents server side multimedia rendering.

That’s all I have to do? That’s too easy for me. If you look into this policy template, you see the following being done to ICA (Full list of changes are contained in the HDX Policy Template paper)

Policy Setting
Use video codec for compression Do not use
Target frame rate 16
Target minimum frame rate 8
Visual quality Medium
Desktop Wallpaper Prohibited
Menu animations Prohibited
Optimization for Windows Media multimedia redirection over WAN Prohibited
Windows media fallback prevention Play all content only on client
Flash video fallback prevention Only small content
Multimedia conferencing Prohibited
Audio quality Medium-Optimized for speech
Auto-create client printers Auto-create the client’s default printer only
Universal print driver usage Use universal printing only
Universal printing optimization defaults Image compression = Standard quality

Based on this, we optimize server density by slightly reducing the quality of the experience. Seems like a fair trade-off (although not having my favorite background picture on my desktop would upset me).

Note: Some of these Citrix policy settings can be drastic if your users are on the WAN.  For example, the “Optimization for Windows Media multimedia redirection over WAN” will degrade the user experience for WAN users.  If users will access resources via the WAN, use the “Optimized for WAN” Citrix Policy as the starting point.

BTW, I’m open for suggestions on how to make my mower more manly looking. I’m thinking a beer holder or racing stripes might help.

Note: The complete Windows 10 optimization blog series


Windows 10 Optimization – Part 6 – Release

IMG_0754I look forward to winter arriving because it means I’m done mowing the yard for 5-7 months. So you can imagine how excited I was when I was mowing my yard for the final time of the season. I could see the end in sight. I was beginning to think about what I would do with my extra 2 hours of time every weekend.

Almost there. Almost there.

Ummm, why is my mower not moving?

Why is it dragging on the ground?

HEY! Where did my wheel go?

Are you freaking kidding me?

With 30 minutes left of mowing for the season, my wheel fell off. And I don’t simply mean it fell of.  It snapped. And it wasn’t a cheap piece of plastic.  A good sized piece of metal snapped (I guess I’m just too strong).

No matter how far you get, how much you do, it can all be for nothing. As we’ve seen, Windows 10 provides us with many different avenues for optimization. We’ve gone through

  1. Default apps
  2. Services
  3. Scheduled tasks
  4. User Interface
  5. Runtime

All while trying to follow our XenApp best practice of:

For the best combination of user experience and resource consumption, optimize appropriately

And at the end, once we’ve optimized and installed our apps, we have one last thing to do before we are complete and ready for user testing is to optimize the image itself. The image optimization recommendations are manual, but are worthwhile. They include:

Optimization Description
Antivirus definitions If antivirus is installed and running within the virtual desktop, updating the definition file will prevent all desktops from updating on first boot up.
Windows update It is typically advisable to have the latest Windows 10 updates and security fixes before rolling out the image into production. Just remember that if the Windows Update service was disabled, it must be re-enabled to run the update. And if you had to enable it in order to run Windows Update, don’t forget to re-disable it.
App updates Many applications have integrated auto update functionality. These applications should be updated, then the auto update functionality should be disabled.
Disk defragmenter The disk might have become fragmented during installation and configuration, which will lead to less performance. Defragmenting the disk before rolling out will give better performance and reduce storage utilization.

Note: The complete Windows 10 optimization blog series

Daniel ()
XenApp Best Practices
XenApp Videos

Windows 10 Optimization – Part 5 – Runtime

The difference between laziness and ingenious is in the eye of the beholder. For example, operating my telescope can almost all be done remotely. I do have to go outside and manually roll off the roof of the shed but after that, I can connect to my PC remotely and control my telescope, my camera, my focuser and my guide scope.

Some people say I’m lazy, but it gives me a much better experience. Some of the clearest and most stable skies are in the winter. But when the temperature is -20F (even 0F) I can’t be out there for too long. And when I need to focus the telescope, it is a struggle to do so while wearing gloves (and painful).

These optimizations allow me to get more use out of my telescope, but it did take time to develop (Even though it is winter, my PC is not a bear, no hibernation allowed).

And the Windows 10 optimizations will allow us to get more use out of our virtual desktop. So far, we’ve gone through

  1. Default apps
  2. Services
  3. Scheduled tasks
  4. User Interface

And all the while, we’ve tried to stick to our XenApp best practice:

For the best combination of user experience and resource consumption, optimize appropriately

The next batch of optimizations are focused those runtime optimizations that don’t directly impact the user, but will provide better efficiencies.


Optimization Configuration
Disable hibernate Powercfg -h off

Registry updates

Optimization Configuration
Disable NTFS Last Access Timestamps [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem]


Disable Memory Dump Creation [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashControl]




Disable default system Screensaver HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\ControlPanel\Desktop

“ScreenSaveActive”=dword: 00000000

Disable Background Disk Defragmentation [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Dfrg\BootOptimizeFunction]


Disable Background Auto-Layout [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\OptimalLayout]


Disable the Windows 10 First

Logon Animation



Increase Disk I/O Timeout to 200




Note: The complete Windows 10 optimization blog series

Daniel ()
XenApp Best Practices
XenApp Videos

Windows 10 Optimization – Part 4 – User Interface

afterbeforeI think I create my to-do lists wrong. I never feel like I’m making any progress. For example, one item on my to-do list was “Fix sailboat rudder”. It was looking pretty gnarly, plus my tiller broke, which made for an interesting sail back to the mooring.

This one item on my list took me almost 2 weeks to complete! Talk about not making any progress. What I should have done is break the tasks down into small chunks like

  1. Remove rudder hardware
  2. Sand
  3. Fill cracks/holes
  4. Sand and clean
  5. Paint first coat
  6. Sand and clean
  7. Paint second coat
  8. Sand and clean
  9. Paint third coat
  10. Sand and clean
  11. Paint fourth coat
  12. Sand and clean
  13. Paint fifth coat
  14. Sand and clean
  15. Paint sixth coat
  16. Reattach rudder hardware

Now I don’t feel so bad that it took so long.

I’m beginning to feel the same way about this Windows 10 optimization blog. It was a good idea, but WOW, there are quite a few things to cover. So far, we’ve gone through

  1. Default apps
  2. Services
  3. Scheduled tasks

And remember, although it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, adhere to our XenApp best practice:

For the best combination of user experience and resource consumption, optimize appropriately

This batch of optimizations are on the user interface optimizations.

Optimization Configuration
Disable default system Screensaver HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\ControlPanel\Desktop

“ScreenSaveActive”=dword: 00000000

Disable the Windows 10 First

Logon Animation



Hide Hard Error Messages [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Windows]


Settings “Visual Effects to Custom” [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\VisualEffects]


Disable “Show translucent selection rectangle” [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]


Disable “Show shadows under windows” [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]


Disable “Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing” [HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ControlPanel\Desktop\WindowMetrics]


Disable “Animations in the taskbar” [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced]


Disable “Enable Peek” [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM]


Disable “Save Taskbar Thumbnail Previews” [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM]


Disable “Smooth edges of screen fonts” [HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Control Panel\Desktop]


Disable the rest of the visual effects [HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Control Panel\Desktop\]

“UserPreferencesMask”=RegBin: “90,12,01,80”

Disable cursor blink rate Disable “Cursor blink”

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER \Control Panel\Desktop]


Disable Internet Explorer First Run




Reduce menu show delay [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ControlPanel\Desktop]

MenuShowDelay”, “0”

Now all i have to do is wait until May before I get to put the boat back in the water.

Note: The complete Windows 10 optimization blog series

Daniel ()
XenApp Best Practices
XenApp Videos