Inconsistent bootup time

Yesterday, XP loaded into the desktop within a few seconds, and it's been doing that consistently for as long as I can remember.  However, today it struggled on the splash screen for at least a few minutes from a cold boot.  The loading animation--that blue bar--usually only makes between one to two passes.  But on this particular incident the splash screen animation persisted for a few minutes and took a few more minutes to load the desktop.  I made a few more attempts at recreating this incident but to no avail, the system would reboot or cold boot to the desktop within a few seconds as usual, after this one time incident.  

Could this be a symptom of anything?  Keep in mind I haven't installed anything new for at least a few weeks.  In addition, NOD32, Rootkitrevealer, and spybot couldn't find any problems.  

TIA
ObsessedTechAsked:
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callrsCommented:
Some possibilities:
- XP did a chkdsk
- NOD32 or spybot or other Internet app was downloading an update
- XP was downloading or finishing installing a previously downloaded windows update
- An app you installed was finishing its install or uninstall on reboot -- this may involve deleting or renaming files which can cause delay.
- XP was housecleaning the registry (in Win98 at least, Windows every so often cleans up the registry on reboot & so it shrinks in size.)
(- Defrag-related? Perhaps some finishing up from a previous defrag?)

http://www.sysinternals.com/Utilities/autoruns.html will tell you exactly what's starting up when you load Windows.

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nobusbiljart fanCommented:
>>  Could this be a symptom of anything?  <<  possible; if a device fails to respond to the software, it keeps trying and results in a time out, before continuing. A classic example is disconnecting a network device
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derboxenCommented:
might be a sign of hardware failure.. its probably not a driver/windows issue as only basic things are loaded pre-shell launch.. nod32 has been known to slow down boot times (i actually uninstalled it because of that).. it also could be the cpu getting hot.. but that early in boot is kinda odd..  if i were to guess on which hardware.. i would say harddrive or memory.. harddrive would be my first guess as it doesnt speed up once it gets into windows
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taylorludwigCommented:
If your are on a domain it could also be the cause if you or the server was disconnected from the network at the same time you were trying to restart. Of course this is only if your on a domain.  Most likley if your at an office with a server.  
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ObsessedTechAuthor Commented:
Seems like a hiccup since it hasn't happened once since.  Any reason why it would happen only once?  I'm sure I didn't download or install anything before the incident.  Does XP "houseclean" the registry without showing any output on the screen?  
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nobusbiljart fanCommented:
Not that i know of, imho only server software have this option.
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callrsCommented:
>>Does XP "houseclean" the registry without showing any output on the screen?
Windows 98 does....http://erpman1.tripod.com/current/regsmall.htm
I think XP may have to do so as well, since there are programs that can do it, e.g.
http://www.majorgeeks.com/download.php?det=465     |MG| Free Download - RegCompact 1.8
http://ftp.pcworld.com/pub/new/utilities/system_resources_tune_up/regcmp1a.zip
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