Forcing Group Policy to Run at Startup

by Chris Sanders [Published on 12 June 2007 / Last Updated on 12 June 2007]

Group policy can be quirky in the way it runs at startup, often taking two or three reboots before it actually applies to a machine. Here we are going to look at the cause of this and how to fix it.

If you have ever done any work with group policy you may notice that it sometimes takes two or three reboots of a client computer before some policies take effect. This is pretty commonly seen with software installation and folder redirection policies more than any other. This delay is caused by a “feature” of Windows XP called “Fast Logon Optimization”. This means that group policy is processed at the same time as when the processor is performing other tasks to get the computer booted up into a usable state.

The solution to this problem is disabling fast logon optimization with another GPO. You can find this setting under Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\System\Logon. Here, you can enable “Always wait for the network at computer startup and logon”. This could potentially increase the time it takes for your computers to log on, but it will also ensure that group policy gets its chance to be applied.


Chris Sanders is the network administrator for one of the largest public school systems in the state of Kentucky. Chris's specialties include general network administration, windows server 2003, wireless networking, and security. You can view Chris' personal website at

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The Author — Chris Sanders

Chris Sanders is a network security analyst for EWA Government Systems Inc. Chris is the author of the book Practical Packet Analysis as well as several technical articles. His personal website at contains a great deal of information, articles, and guides related to network administration, network security, packet analysis, and general information technology.

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