Windows 8 and Server 2012 Optimization Guide

Website Visitors:

With the recent release of XenDesktop 7, we put together a list of recommended optimizations for Windows 8 /8.1 and Server 2012 virtual desktops on XenDesktop 7.x.  The purpose of this blog is to provide a list of commonly applied optimizations and provide assistance with their implementation through a script – yes, you read that correctly, a SCRIPT

Although not every setting may apply to every use case, most of these settings should apply to Windows 8/8.1 and Server 2012 virtual machines running on XenDesktop 7.x

This blog is divided into four sections: service settingscomputer settingsuser settings and an awesome script.

Service Settings

The following services are recommended to be evaluated for being set to disabled:

  • Application Layer Gateway Service
  • Background Intelligent Transfer Service
  • BitLocker Drive Encryption Service
  • Block Level Backup Engine Service
  • Bluetooth Support Service
  • Computer Browser
  • Device Association Service
  • Device Setup Manager Service
  • Diagnostic Policy Service
  • Distributed Link Tracking Client
  • Family Safety
  • Fax
  • Function Discovery Resource Publication
  • HomeGroup Listener
  • HomeGroup Provider
  • Microsoft Software Shadow Copy Provider
  • Offline Files
  • Optimize Drives
  • Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol Service
  • Security Center
  • Sensor Monitoring Service
  • Shell Hardware Detection
  • SNMP Trap Service
  • SSDP Discovery
  • Superfetch
  • Telephony
  • UPnP Device Host
  • Volume Shadow Copy
  • Windows Backup
  • Windows Color System
  • Windows Connect Now – Config Registrar
  • Windows Defender Service
  • Windows Error Reporting Service
  • Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service
  • Windows Update
  • WLAN AutoConfig
  • WWAN AutoConfig

The following services are recommended to be evaluated for being set to auto:

  • Network List Service

Computer Settings

Below are the recommended baseline computer settings and optimizations:

  • Configure Event Logs to 1028KB and set retention to “overwrite”
  • Configure processor resources for best performance of “Programs”
  • Configure Visual Effects for “best performance”
  • Disable automatic updates of drivers from Windows Updates
  • Disable boot log and boot animation
  • Disable Data Execution Prevention
  • Disable default system screensaver
  • Disable hard disk timeouts
  • Disable hibernation
  • Disable Internet Explorer First Run Wizard and RSS Feeds
  • Disable Internet Explorer Enhanced Security
  • Disable Machine Account Password Changes
  • Disable New Network dialog
  • Disable NTFS Last Access Timestamps
  • Disable System Restore
  • Disable TCP/IP / Large Send Offload
  • Disable the ability to clear the paging file during shutdown
  • Disable UAC secure desktop prompt
  • Disable Background Layout Service
  • Disable CIFS Change Notifications
  • Increase Disk I/O Timeout to 200 seconds
  • Increase service startup timeouts
  • Set Popup Error Mode to “Neither”
  • Set Power Saving Scheme to “High Performance”
  • Set Recovery Dump to “Small”
  • Turn off Windows Slide Show and install NetFX3

Disable the following Scheduled Tasks:

  • AitAgent
  • AnalyzeSystem
  • AutoWake
  • BfeOnServiceStartTypeChange
  • BthSQM
  • ConfigNotification
  • Consolidated
  • DiskDiagnosticDatacollector
  • DiskDiagnosticResolver
  • FamilySafetyMonitor
  • FamilySafetyRefresh
  • GadgetManager
  • HotStart
  • KernelCeipTask
  • MobilityManager
  • ProgramDataUpdater
  • Proxy
  • RacTask
  • RegIdleBackup
  • ResolutionHost
  • Scheduled
  • SessionAgent
  • StartupAppTask
  • SystemDataProviders
  • UninstallDeviceTask
  • UpdateLibrary
  • Uploader
  • UpnPHostConfig
  • UsbCeip
  • Windows Filtering
  • WinSAT

User Settings

Below are the recommended user settings for Windows 8/8.1 and Server 2012 in XenDesktop 7 environments:

  • Disable Action Center
  • Disable cursor blink
  • Disable Internet Explorer persistent cache
  • Disable screensaver
  • Force off-screen composition in Internet Explorer
  • Reduce menu show delay to 150 milliseconds

Note: User Settings when applied within a profile are done only for that user. In order for the User –based policies to apply to all users, the modified user profile must either replace the Default User Profile, information on this process is available here. Optionally, the profile can be deployed as a template profile through a Profile Management solution such as Citrix Profile Management.

template profile through a Profile Management solution such as Citrix Profile Management.

Recommended Hotfix

Another thing worthy of mentioning is that we highly recommend applying the July, 2013 Hotfix Rollup from Microsoft. This fixes a memory leak issue in Windows 8 and Server 2012 which eventually causes the server to exhaust its resources and slow down to a crawl.

The Awesome Script

And now for the part that you likely scrolled all the way down to get to… the awesome script that does all of the above for you. Script is available at Citirx Sharefile path: “Windows8and2012VDIBaseline.vbs”. Same script is also available here Windows8and2012VDIBaseline.vbs (from mediafire link). It is a VBS script that will perform the optimizations highlighted within this blog in an automated fashion. This script is intended to be run on your “Golden Image” (aka. Base image) which is used to create MCS clones or PVS streams.

Note: After running the script, a reboot is needed in order for the script registries to apply properly. As with any script, we highly encourage understanding what the script does prior to running it. Citrix nor the authors nor me are liable for any issues that come as a result of running this script so please make sure to make backups of your registry and Virtual Machine or VHD file prior to running the script, just in case something goes wrong.

Special thanks to Jonathan Bennett (AutoITScript) for creating a wonderful optimizer tool and to Jeff Stokes (MSFT) for creating the original baseline script for Windows 7 that we leveraged as a base for the script provided above.

For additional information on XenDesktop 7, please reference Citrix eDocs. For optimizations that apply to Windows 7 machines, please review the Windows 7 Optimization Guide for Desktop Virtualization Citrix White Paper.

Legal Disclaimer:

This software / sample code is provided to you “AS IS” with no representations, warranties or conditions of any kind. You may use, modify and distribute it at your own risk. CITRIX DISCLAIMS ALL WARRANTIES WHATSOEVER, EXPRESS, IMPLIED, WRITTEN, ORAL OR STATUTORY, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, TITLE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, you acknowledge and agree that (a) the software / sample code may exhibit errors, design flaws or other problems, possibly resulting in loss of data or damage to property; (b) it may not be possible to make the software / sample code fully functional; and (c) Citrix may, without notice or liability to you, cease to make available the current version and/or any future versions of the software / sample code. In no event should the software / code be used to support of ultra-hazardous activities, including but not limited to life support or blasting activities. NEITHER CITRIX NOR ITS AFFILIATES OR AGENTS WILL BE LIABLE, UNDER BREACH OF CONTRACT OR ANY OTHER THEORY OF LIABILITY, FOR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER ARISING FROM USE OF THE software / SAMPLE CODE, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION DIRECT, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL, PUNITIVE, CONSEQUENTIAL OR OTHER DAMAGES, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. Although the copyright in the software / code belongs to Citrix, any distribution of the code should include only your own standard copyright attribution, and not that of Citrix. You agree to indemnify and defend Citrix against any and all claims arising from your use, modification or distribution of the code.

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