BOOT CAMP 562 (04/02/09)
Startup and Shutdown Problems, part 4
If you've been following this series on reducing the time it takes
to boot up and shut down your Windows XP, Vista or W7 PC you should have removed
all unnecessary programs, cleaned out the Start folder and trimmed the Startup
list and with luck you will have seen a noticeable improvement, if not it's
time to get serious.
This week we'll look at some other things that can slow down the
boot up process, and if your PC is still taking an age to get going then we
need to find out exactly what's clogging up the works. But first, here are a
few more items to check.
If your PC is connected to a network and you regularly access
'mapped' drives on other computers then Windows will search for them at
startup. If they're not there, because the other PC(s) are switched off or
off-line, it won't give up and waits for the remote PC to respond. To stop this
happening in both XP and Vista right-click on the Start button, select Explore
All Users then go to Tools > Disconnect Network Drives. If any drives appear
remove them from the list.
Another networking facility that can have an effect on startup is
File and Printer sharing. Clearly, if this is something that you use then you
should leave it alone, but if you've previously enabled it but no longer use it
then switch it off. In XP go to Start > Control Panel > Network
Connections. Right-click on the Local Area Connections icon and select
Properties. On the list headed 'This connection uses the following items'
locate and uncheck 'File and Printer Sharing for Microsoft Networks, click OK
and reboot. Vista is slightly simpler; go to Control Panel then Network and
Sharing Centre and under 'Sharing and Discovery click the down arrows next to
File Sharing and Printer Sharing and turn them off using the checkboxes
Toolbars, browser add-on and malware programs normally load at
startup but most of them show up on the Startup list (see last week's Boot
Camp). However, some malicious programs and even a few legitimate ones can be
really sneaky and hide. If you haven't checked for malware recently then do so
now. However, no one cleaner will catch them all so I suggest using two or
three utilities. Try AdAware, A-Squared, Malwarebytes, Spybot Search &
Destroy and Super AntiSpyware, they're all free and safe to use. Links to all
of them can be found at on the PCTopTips Software page
Even if your PC comes up with a clean bill of health get into the
habit of running one or two of them every week or two. Beware of malware and
registry cleaners that find lots of problems then ask you for money to fix
them. Some of them report 'false positives' to scare you into paying, or
deliberately infect your machine.
If, after that little lot your PC is still taking forever to boot
up then it's obvious there's a more deep-seated problem. It's probably a
corrupt driver, rogue Service, program or utility or something that has been
left behind after an application has been uninstalled, but the problem is
finding out what it is.
Windows has a built-in facility that records what happens during
the boot up process - see this week's Top Tip -- but it's quite difficult to
use, even for experts, let alone for novices. One alternative is a shareware
utility called Boot Log XP. It's not free, a single licence costs from around
£10 for student users; however, you can download a free and fully functional
30-day trial version. If you find it helpful I urge you to pay the licence fee.
It's the polite thing to do and you'll feel better for it.
Once you've installed Boot Log XP run the program and click the
Restart the PC button. The PC closes down and reboots, with Boot Log XP running
in the background. When Windows has finished loading you'll see a dialogue box
showing elapsed time and CPU usage. You can stop it at any time but it will
eventually stop recording of its own accord and display a timeline of the boot
up sequence. This shows every stage, when it happened and how long it took. You
are looking for processes that take an inordinately long time to complete and
it should be fairly obvious which ones are under suspicion from the length of
the green lines. Incidentally, you can ignore Boot Log XP's own entry, which
for obvious reason is the longest process of all.
Unfortunately the program cannot fix boot up problems but you
should be able to determine where the blame lies from the name of the process.
If it relates to a program on your PC the simple solution is to remove it and
reinstall if you want to continue using it. If it concerns a something in
Windows try Googling the name plus 'slow startup' or 'slow boot'. There's an
excellent chance that someone else has suffered the exact same problem, and
hopefully can point you in the direction of a solution.
Next Week - Startup and Shutdown Problems, part 5
A drive on a network computer that has been identified and named
or assigned a drive letter by Windows
The ground floor level of the hierarchical filing system or
directory 'tree' used by Windows
A program that you can try before you buy. If you decide to use it
you are obliged to send a payment to the author or publisher
To generate a Boot log file in Windows press F8 at start up,
select 'Enable Bootlogging and press Return, select your copy of Windows press
Return and the machine reboots. After Windows has finished loading open Windows
Explorer, navigate to the root directory of the C: drive and look for a file
called ntbtlog.txt, double click on it and it opens in Notepad. Be warned it's
very long and can be difficult to interpret but basically you are looking at
the time each process takes (in milliseconds), and errors, though not all
'driver not loaded' messages are important as some are not required at
Don't forget, there's a full archive of previous Boot Camp Top
Tips at www.pctoptips.co.uk
(c) R. Maybury 2009, 1401
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