Is your computer suffering from the "preparing network connections slow startup" syndrome? There can be a couple of reasons why this is happening.
If your computer is part of a domain, then chances are that your DNS settings are causing the network connections slowdown at startup.
Your DNS settings should allow your computer to contact the logon domain controller in the network. Often times, when the preparing network connections slows down, the domain controller is not configured as primary DNS server.
The inspiration for this article came just a couple of days ago, when I was asked by someone to troubleshoot dreadfully slow startup times in his computer network. This person runs a small network with a Windows 2003 server as a domain controller and several Windows XP client machines.
I went over there to investigate what was causing the issue.
The Windows XP clients were set up with fixed ip addresses and sure enough, DNS settings were also fixed. The problem was that the primary and secondary DNS servers were set to the DNS servers of his internet service provider. Of course the DNS servers of his ISP can never translate his logon domain controller name to an ip address on the "inside" of his network, so the clients could not contact the domain controller during the "preparing network connections" phase at startup.
Of course, after the timeout for this attempt passes, the clients continue their startup routine and they can freely access any internet web page, because the internet service provider's DNS servers can successfully resolve any given internet web site address.
Sure enough, after setting the DNS server configuration on the client pc's to the ip address of the logon domain controller, the dreaded "preparing network connections" screen went much smoother during startup.
If you need a refresher on how to check your DNS settings, simply proceed as follows:
If the ip address of the DNS servers is not the ip address of the domain controller, you probably have nailed the "preparing network connections slow down" issue. Try changing the DNS settings to match the ip address of the domain controller and reboot the client computer to see if that solves the issue.
Windows XP with SP2 installed has been reported to behave even worse than non-SP2 machines with incorrect DNS settings, so you might notice even longer waits before WinXP SP2 machines continue on to the "applying computer settings" screen.
Please always make sure that your DNS settings are correct when dealing with a network that is orchestrated by a domain controller.
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