Windows 7 - Very slow Start Up Problem

I have had Windows 7 since launch and have been very happy with it. Although it was not as quick as we were lead to believe regarding start-up, it was certainly better than Vista.

However for a few days now, and with no changes to software, the start up time has become intolerable!

The PC goes through its bios routines as normal and fires up the 'Starting Windows' panel/logo. This PC has a noisy disk drive and you can always hear it when it is operating. For 20 seconds it uses the drive then it stops. The logo then continues to pulse, but there is no disk activity. It then just sits there for 4.5 minutes (!) doing nothing. Finally, when you are about to give up, the drive kicks in and it immediately moves on as per normal.

My virus checker is up to date, I have cleared out all unwanted disk files so there is plenty of disk space, and have taken out everything bar the bare essentials for start-up, although the problem occurs before these would be loaded anyway? Nothing works, so it is currently taking me over 5.5 minutes from turning on the PC to being able to do anything! What is going on and how do I get it to start quickly again?

Dave
Dave_B_CAsked:
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delmcConnect With a Mentor Commented:
It may be the hard disk which is at fault, as you state that the hard disk is noisy on startup, so therefore it would appear that there may be a fault with the disk. You should not be able to hear the disk over everything else in the system, ie fans, etc and as there is a noise coming from the disk I would suspect that the hard disk controller is at fault and therefore causing some issues with access time. Worth eliminating by building W7 on a brand new disk and seeing if the problems exist on the new system.
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QPRCommented:
start - run "msconfig"
check to see if anything there is not required and/or new
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MalajloCommented:
Check for newer drivers. For NIC and video first.
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
QPR, I already told you I had done that..

What is NIC?

The question I guess is, what is it doing, in the4.5 minutes it sits there, that requires no disk activity..?
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QPRCommented:
Not really, you said taken everything out for start up. Without knowing that could mean (to me) the start program group.
NIC = network card
Impossible to know what your computer is doing for 4.5 minutes without knowing what is running at boot
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
OK, I have left in only essentials..

So what could be running before it even gets to the desktop that might be causing the problem..? I have not added any new software recently, other than via MS automatic updates..?

No new drivers for NIC and video..

Think I will try a system restore..?
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Iain MacMillanIT ManagerCommented:
if you are connected to a network, unplug your LAN cable to your NIC, also unplug all non-required USB connections such as camera, printer etc.....obviously leave keyboard/mouse.

now try and boot -- Win 7 start-up is pretty bullet-proof, if your DRIVERS are up to date, it looks like you have an issue with one of them, and may need to connect devices one at a time to find the culprit.  I would start with motherboard chipset (AMD or INTEL), then video card and then sound (even on-board), that should be the basics, and the most common ones out the way.

also download an app called AUTORUNS, far better than MSCONFIG, and you can see a lot more that's running that MS normally shows.  finally check Device Manager (control panel) to see if you have any Yellow exclamations next to any hardware item, a sure sign that a driver/device is not working correctly.
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MalajloCommented:
Starting without network connection can be a good test.
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
Ok good suggestions.... Have to go now, and not back for a few days, but will certainly give them a try  when I return..

Device Manager shows no probs..
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rindiCommented:
Apart from cleaning out unneeded files which you did, also do a defrag of the HD. Then, how much RAM do you have? Also check within the BIOS what mode your Disk controller is running with. If there is an AHCI mode or something similar, select that (if your PC can't boot after that or bluescreens, just change it back to the previous selection).
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
Hard disk is fine, it's always been noisy from new..

Defrags are done every night

4 GB of RAM

Certainly not changing bios, it has been unchanged since new and has been fine until 3 days ago.. ? Doubt if anything could  have changed settings?

PS Not at home so unable to test further..
PPS System Restore to start of September did not solve problem
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MalajloCommented:
Any new devices on network (i.e. two DHPC servers running)?
Any errors, warnings in system/application log? Can you determine any delay in starting services (system log, check timestamp of events recorded)?
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rindiCommented:
I'd still check the BIOS, because if the HD controller is set to PIO mode you'll have very slow disk access.

What AV tool are you using? Most of them will check your system area at bootup, and certain AV tools are much slower in checking the system area than others. Sometimes you might be able to change how the Antivirus app will behave within it's settings. The longer boot times can also have been triggered by an update. 4GB RAM will also take longer to scan than less.
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QEMS2Commented:
Have you checked the event viewer after the long boot up?  It might tell you some information in there, it will tell you of any errors in boot that could be causing the issue.

Hope this helps
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simonlimonCommented:
You can tryu using Soluto, which will log the startup sequence, it's free:

www.soluto.com
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crash2000Commented:
This may sound stupid, but make sure you don't have a CD/DVD in the drive and set the BIOS Boot order to Hard Disk.
Also, delete the contents of c:\windows\temp, c:\users\username\\AppData\Local\Temp

Hope that helps

Mark
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
Latest update:

1) No dvd/cd in drive
2) Boot time with no network/printer/speakers still more than 5 minutes
3) Soluto installed.. Main resource users:
    System 116 secs
    SVChost sysnet 43 secs
    Win Explorer 20 secs
    Indexing SVC 18 secs
   
That's 3.5 minutes just those 4 and they look like standard Windows 7 software.. ?  A week ago the total time taken from switching on the PC to working was about 90 secs. What the hell has slowed them down? Once up and running there are no performance issues, everything seems as it was, it is just the boot process that seems to have slowed dramatically?

rindi: How do you check the BIOS..?


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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
Files deleted in both temporary folders as suggested by crash2000 - No improvement..

In fact, worryingly, the problem seems to be getting worse. Soluto now reports a boot time of over 10 minutes(!), with the 4 main culprits above taking even longer..!

Performance once booted absolutely normal.. Baffling..?!
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
How do I check the event viewer/log..?
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simonlimonCommented:
Start Control panel Administrative tools Event viewer,
also check SMART properties of Hard drive, make sure it runs fine.

You can use the trial of HDtune pro.
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
No errors in event viewer..

HDtune running.. How long before you get meaningful info on Health..?
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crash2000Commented:
Couple of things to try.
Try running a chkdsk on the drive (right click drive letter, properties, tools, check now, fix everything.

Does it boot any quicker if you physically disconnect it from the network?
If it does, it maybe a group policy issue. Let me know.

Mark
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
chkdsk scheduled..

See above.. No improvement when disconnected from network..
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crash2000Commented:
Ok the chkdsk will run the next time your computer is rebooted and may take several hours.
You might want to let it run overnight.

Mark
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Iain MacMillanIT ManagerCommented:
if you run Process Explorer once you are logged in you can see what's hiding under the SVCHOST services.

have you used Autoruns or MSConfig to strip back all the start-up apps??

if possible i would consider replacing the drive and/or the SATA cabling just as a test/process of elimination, also if you have flashed the BIOS, i would recommend resetting it to default settings, incase anything new was introduced by the update, you can always adjust the config later.

a fresh build of Win 7 on another drive may also help eliminate any other software issues such as the registry.
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simonlimonCommented:
HDtune running.. How long before you get meaningful info on Health..?

Just open the health tab and look at the smart properties..
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rindiCommented:
When booting the PC you should see a short cut key with which you can get into the BIOS (usually DEL, ESC, F2, F10, depending on the manufacturer). Then you can find the settings for the HD controller and check what they are set at, and correct the settings if necessary.

Have you checked your AV utility?
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
OK hang fire everybody.. I now have a bigger problem as the PC won't boot at all, and early indications are a hard disk failure of some sort..  BIOS can't detect a HDD..  

Will get back to this once sorted, if the problem still exists!? Thanks for all the help so far..
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Iain MacMillanIT ManagerCommented:
unlucky mate, looks like DELMC was right, a faulty/fubar HDD.  sounds like the controller is gone, is there data you need to get off it??
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
Yep, it does, but will wait and see what they say in the repair shop..?

I ideally do need the data so let's hope it's easily all recoverable.. All really important stuff backed up, though, so no major problems on that front..
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Iain MacMillanIT ManagerCommented:
only way i can see this being repaired, other than sending to a data recovery centre, would be to have an identical drive, and swap the pcb/controllers, so any bios sees it.

on the flip side, i would test another drive if you could, as it maybe your SATA/IDE controller on the board that has failed, and not seeing any drives... :(
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MalajloCommented:
Oh, if the controller is faulty, disk will be fine on other controller. And in main cases, it is not the drive but electronics in it. So, if it is common disk drive, it is quite easy to replace the board on disk and get data.
And also, if data on partition is corrupted, you can restore it using Inspector File Recovery (free tool).

But it is essential BIOS see disk drive.
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
We'll see what the supposed experts say..!  It's a Maxtor which I think means it's a common drive..?
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rindiCommented:
Older Maxtor models (before the company was bought by seagate) used to be really problematic. I had lots of broken maxtor drives, many more than other manufacturers. With newer models I haven't encountered any makes that are better or less good than others yet.
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Iain MacMillanIT ManagerCommented:
i always stick with Western Digital or Samsung -- been using Sammy SATA Spinpoints for 4 years now, haven't had one fail me yet.
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
OK end of story.. Disk is totally screwed, motherboard is screwed, so new PC being researched..

Guess it's not so surprising.. It was a good box in its time, 6 years ago, top range, and ran 24/7 for 4 years until superceded.. Did good service as a second PC up to now and still clocked 4.6 on the experience scale running Windows 7..

Sad to see it go, but time to move on..!
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
Thanks for everyone's help..

Everybody happy if I give delmc the points..?
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crash2000Commented:
Yes I thinik thats fare. He mentioned it first.

Mark
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Iain MacMillanIT ManagerCommented:
yes, no problem, good luck with new system build. get in there before the VAT rise!!!
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
Good point! :)
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Dave_B_CAuthor Commented:
Didn't do the proposed re-build as hard drive failed completely!
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Iain MacMillanIT ManagerCommented:
if it was just the drive, i would have said go buy a basic drive, but if the board is fubar also, then you might as well put your cash towards a more modern system - 6+ years is a good run, just like my HP system in the office.
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