System Performance Responsiveness Issues Caused by Inaccessible Domain Controllers and Network Share
When a device such as a laptop is used on site, it is connecting to our corporate domain network and is constantly pooling Group Policies, Network Shares such as Home Drive and Shared Drives. This allows the user to access their personal files stored in our Network Attached Storage located in the data centre, lets them access shared storage facilities and get their latest device configurations applied to their device from Group Policy using the Domain Controllers.
Observed Performance Issues
When the device leaves our corporate network, lack of corporate network connectivity to our domain can cause some significant issues with the devices overall performance and stability, resulting in poor end-user experience.
The most common performance issues observed on our corporate devices that are out of domain reach are:
• Slow logon time
• Windows File Explorer not responding or crashing
• Microsoft Word and Excel not responding and crashing
• Desktop not responding
• Navigating operating system can be delayed or overall system may appear sluggish and does not respond to user commands
• Error messages appear in the Windows Notification Tray announcing issues with connecting to shared network drives
• Long device start-up time
Windows File Explorer is not responding | A bit of Computer Science Background for Better Understanding of the issue:
In computers, a central processing unit or CPU can execute a line of commands in order to complete any give task. This is known as a thread. In modern computers, we have processors capable of executing multiple threads at the same time, known as multithreading; where a smaller process can be executed in parallel with rest of main processes in the background.
Whilst the hardware that runs an operating system has evolved to support parallel multitasking, core OS elements and software remained fundamentally the same and can only run on a single system thread - also referred to as the main tread.
Windows File Explorer and many other core software user interface elements are built using Win32 Forms. Software build on this design principle render all of their content on the main system thread. This means that if a user click on an UI element such as launching of Windows File Explorer or attempt to navigate between folder structure; both the rendering of the User Interface in the Windows File Explorer as well as execution of reading and opening files is done on the main system thread where both user and operating system are occupying the execution queue.
As the system is currently first in line executing a workload responsible for locating and loading of recently accessed files; the user's command to load up the Windows File explorer is currently second in line and cannot progress further until the queue on the main thread becomes clear. Whilst the system is attempting to connect and pool network drives and shares that are inaccessible, clicking on any UI elements at this stage, results in Windows File Explorer or software to become unresponsive.
To remediate the issues listed in the 'Observed Performance issues' section, several steps can be taken to prevent or reduce the risk of them re-occurring due to lack of connection with the corporate network and sight of the domain controllers.
Summary of steps:
1. Disconnect any shared drives from the Windows File Explorer and remove auto-mapping from any group policies
2. Remove user logon profile from their Active Directory and disconnect the drive from within the Windows File Explorer on the device.
3. Clear recently used files and folders in the Quick Access.
4. Set Folder options in the Windows File Explorer to not show recently used files and folders in Quick Access view.
5. Set the Windows File Explorer to open 'This PC' view instead of the Quick Access view.
6. Set the Advanced Settings in Windows File Explorer options to launch a folder window in a separate process
7. Utilise OneDrive for access of cloud storage and shared online documents such as SharePoint Document Library in Teams
8. Utilise OneDrive Known Folders Protection feature to automatically sync Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders for the user across multiple devices.
9. Use Virtual Private Network (VPN) if access to corporate network file share is necessary.
Remediation Steps for Microsoft 365 Apps such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel
The same as above should be done with any impacted M365 App such as Word:
1. Open Word, select Open view and right click on any of the files inside the recent items and select the option 'Clear unpinned items' this clears recently accessed files and shares, should stop Windows from pooling inaccessible shares and prevent crashing of Word.
NOTE: Remember to do the same for Folders tab in the same view as well as Documents tab; you might need to do that few times in a row depending on how long the recent items lists for Documents and Folders is.