Configuring system performance settings in your reference image – By Bill Burnley

Todays post is contributed by Bill Burnley, a fellow deployment specialist in the Washington D.C. Metro Area.

Solution to get System Properties Performance to work stick in our image

In our VDI environment, which is currently hosted built on VMware vSphere environment using linked clones, I had a problem getting performance settings to stick in our image. After a good few hours of research, I came up with a working solution.

The background

First, I had already built a fully customized windows 7 x64 and x86 image using Johan's books, online deployment guides and information as well as leaning on our Image Subject Matter Expert Rob Moore. I was then directed to check out the VMware optimization guide for Windows 7 and Windows 8 located here: (  There is even an task sequence attached in which VMware provides several important changes, including some nice PowerShell examples. This is great, because it means that 90% of the things I would need to do post image install was done for me and I could turn on or off each option, prior to the rebuild. It also means that in the event that the VM goes bad somehow, a rapid rebuild can be performed. 

Getting the sample files

The guide samples files are included as attachments in the PDF download, and to get them, go to the Adobe Reader View menu, and select Show/Hide > Navigation Panes > Attachments. From there you can simply save them.

Getting the sample files attached to the PDF document.


Using a local GPO for background image settings

If you review the optimization guide, you will find that there are certain things turned off, that would need to be turned on, if for example you want a custom background to show up.  Something that was critical early on for our implementation. For my installation, I turned off the "Default Wallpaper" (forces blank wallpaper) setting, as well as "Disable Desktop Window Manager Session Manager" (turns off aero). 

I was already employing the copy profile option in my answer file as explained very well here by Johan (  if you haven't already watched this, you should review it, because it is extremely useful information, especially if you have been trying to sysprep your images the hard way prior to utilizing them in MDT 2012 or higher.  However, even though I used this, in my VDI environment it still wasn't showing my background.  even though, if I created a new user it was utilizing my background, something wasn't working.  at this point, I threw in a local GPO to define the wallpaper and that worked!  Awesome.

But, there were other options that hadn't been realized in our Full VDI environment that were not in the original optimization guide.  If you type in SystemPropertiesPerformance in a run dialogue box, you can configure the performance options.  There are other ways to get there via control panel, but I find typing it to be the easiest.

The performance options adjusted for best performance.

At first, the settings did not stick

It was recommended to us that I set those setting to adjust for best performance.  I did this but the setting didn't carry over. I then proceeded to change the registry settings located in HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\VisualEffects. I thought by changing this registry setting in my master image and taking a snapshot, I would be good to go in our environment.  I also had made the changes and restarted my VM before the snapshot, so the changes were present in my VM as well as changed in the registry. 

Problem was, this setting did not carry over to our linked clones, we still saw aero windows everywhere. But, the change had occurred in the registry. It turned out that it had saved the settings but not applied them to default user. This was bad news because it meant that even replaying the registry settings with a separate service (which we also employed for profile management) would not work. We tried many different registry settings before slamming our heads against the wall.  Finally, I was re-reading Johan's post about copy profile and e-mailed him, because I decided I was going to start over with the gold image.  I re-captured it with the settings applied during my suspend phase.  This didn't work the first time….  Later I would realize that this was probably due to my impatience…. When I went to check the answer file, it was building the catalog file and seemed like it was frozen.  I interrupted it, and even though I re-initiated it and it seemed to work, based on my second round, it appears that this was not the case.

Fixing the problem – The shotgun approach

The second time I did it, I decided I would try the shotgun approach:

  1. I rebuilt the image following Johan's Copy Profile Post.
  2. When I get to where the suspend happens, I changed the Computer\HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\VisualEffects\VisualFXsetting to 2.
  3. I also saved a theme (with my custom background and settings.)  and tried to use a local GPO to force this theme. (this doesn't show up in my image though, so guessing it didn't copy over….)
  4. Rebooted after the changes
  5. Hit the shortcut to end the suspend

After I import my new reference image back into MDT, I reviewed the unattend file.  (Major advice alert: let the thing eat) it takes a while to load but its worth it. Mine took forever, but when it finally finished, I double checked my copy profile settings.

I redeployed the new image and viola, when I create a new user, they get the default system properties performance settings.  Then I redeploy to my vSphere VM.  Recompose the image to our VMware Horizon View Pools and test.  It works flawlessly now, and  we have moved on to bigger and better problems to work on.

-Bill Burnley

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Johan Arwidmark

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