Slow boot, sticking at BIOS

After Windows 7 automatically did some updates my computer now sticks on the initial ASUS screen for about 10-20 minutes before it very slowly boots up. It seems to get stuck almost pre-bios as I cannot get into the bios settings.

Also have XP installed but it gets stuck before I get the choice of which OS to boot.

Any ides what might be causing this and how to fix it?
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CrystalMethodConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I would definately say it's a hardware problem (most likely a failing drive). What it sounds like is that the system is getting stuck at detecting the drives. If you have any external drives, card readers, etc... make sure to unplug those to make sure that they aren't cauing the problem.
Are you connected to the net while you try to boot up?

Does unplugging from the net help speeds?
kentcomputersConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Sounds like it's having trouble with something hardware related during POST.

If it's a desktop, take out the BIOS battery for at least 5-10 minutes, and/or remove the BIOS jumper.  If you tell us your model number, we can give you more specific instructions.

Re-seat the memory, and try booting with just one stick of memory, and also try it in another slot.

Another possibility would be a failing hard drive.
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jns_johnsonAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the responses, will unplug the ethernet cable pre boot to see if that helps.

kentcomputers, what does the bios jumper look like?
motherboard is ASUS NCCH-DL, 4 x 1gb sticks of RAM

Hard drive is fairly new, last one died a few months ago, doesnt mean it not failing though I suppose. What is the best way to check?

edbedbConnect With a Mentor Commented:
The easiest way to check if it is the hard drive is to unplug the cables from it and see if it still has that long delay. Don't forget to test the CD rom(s) the same way. They are just as often the cause of that symptom.
jns_johnsonAuthor Commented:
Thank you CrystalMethod, I unplugged an external HD and USB hub/card reader and it has booted as normal.

Does that mean the external is most likley about to die?

kentcomputersConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Try plugging those in, one at a time.  Whichever one causes a slowdown is the culprit.  If it's the external drive, definitely back it up, and then I'd recommend running a CHKDSK on it.  You can read about CHKDSK here:
jns_johnsonAuthor Commented:
Thanks for everyones help.
It's possible that one or the other is going out on you. I'd worry more about the external drive than the card reader though.
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