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 provided.


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 start-up.


Don't forget, there's a full archive of previous Boot Camp Top Tips at



(c) R. Maybury 2009, 1401

Part 1 2 3 5

Search PCTopTips 



Boot Camp Index















Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME






 Copyright 2006-2009 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.