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Author Topic: XP boot-up problem  (Read 9827 times)
johnk
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« on: March 22, 2008, 12:05:33 PM »

My main PC (Windows XP SP2) behaves itself very well -- apart from when it boots up.

The desktop appears as normal.  However, for about 10 - 15 minutes after booting up, there are a lot of things the system won't do. Essentially, system files seem to be locked down.  The easiest thing is to give examples:

I cannot install programs (that write to the registry), or indeed edit the registry at all. I cannot use IE, or any program that uses the IE system files, but I can use Firefox. I can't access system management utilities (e.g. if I access Start Menu ->Settings->Network Connections, the menu will freeze on the screen until the system "unlocks").

So generally speaking after booting up I just leave the computer for a quarter of an hour or so. I know when it's ready to use, as my mail checker program bursts into life and all the shortcuts on the desktop "blink".

Obviously I've run plenty of virus/spyware checks. The Event Viewer doesn't seem to offer any obvious clues.

The only other odd system behaviour (not sure if it's a clue) is that, when copying/moving files, the system uses huge amounts of CPU activity, much more than other computers I use. In particular, when receiving files from other machines on my network, the system slows down badly and hits 100pc CPU activity, which is odd.  But this happens all the time, so I doubt it is related to my boot up problem.

To be honest I've been putting up with the boot-up glitch for many months because, apart form this, my system is amazingly stable.  I can (and do) leave the system running for days without any problem.  If I need to reboot, I just leave the computer and have a cup of coffee. So it's really not that big an issue. I'd just like to solve it....any ideas?
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2008, 12:11:50 PM »

Plenty of free drive space?
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Chris
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2008, 12:13:11 PM »

it almost sounds as if you have a virus scanner doing a full system scan at bootup.
or else some other thing like a disk defrag at every bootup.

if you bring up the task manager (ctrl+alt+del) and sort by cpu usage at boot up, do you see a culprit program using a lot of cpu for those first 10 minutes?

there are also tools for analyzing startup times but it doesn't really sound like that is your problem to me.
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johnk
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2008, 12:18:32 PM »

cranioscopical/mouser,

Thanks for the (amazingly quick) responses.  Yes, I have plenty of free drive space. I have monitored activity during and after startup. There's certainly no AV scan at boot-up - I switched that off.

CPU activity is very low during the 10 or 15 minutes when the system is not functioning properly. And I certainly can't find any mystery process in the Task Manager. It's as if there's a little script somewhere that's saying "after boot-up, wait 15 minutes before allowing access to system files"...
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Rhutobello
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2008, 12:32:04 PM »

Sorry to say....but my PC here on work do the exactly same thing.

It might be that you have a problem with your hard disk. I had on mine, I took full scan and repair...it takes around 8-10 hours...can be longer if you have lots of info on it....if you will try it...do it at night.

It found a lot of dmg sectors, I took new install and it worked fine in the start.
Now after a couple of month, each start lock the pc for a long time, but when it again accept action, I can run several programs at once.

BTW do you use McAfee suite? I do, and I know this update itself at startup and it seems to prevent other thing from running...but I am not sure....I am only sure of my bad sectors on the HD.....and yes..I shall replace it..I live on backup for now smiley
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nosh
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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2008, 01:45:39 PM »

I'd have gone with mouser on the security app thing (doesn't necessarily have to be an AV, could be something like a firewall bundled with HIPS) but your claim that CPU usage is very low blows away that theory.
Use Process Explorer to single out what's using so much CPU power during file operations.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2008, 01:53:29 PM »


I had this happen to me but it by no means makes it relevant to your case, so only FWIW YMMV:

I don't know how you're set up, but you could try logging in as another user.
If there's something messed up in the registry, or your configuration files are in some way damaged, this might give you a clue to what's happening if another user account runs okay.

I'd listen to the advice of others before mine any day  smiley

Good luck, anyway!

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Chris
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« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2008, 02:31:08 PM »

I'd have gone with mouser on the security app thing (doesn't necessarily have to be an AV, could be something like a firewall bundled with HIPS) but your claim that CPU usage is very low blows away that theory.
Use Process Explorer to single out what's using so much CPU power during file operations.

Well, sometimes HIPS can really block everything with very low CPU usage. Firewalls, AV and antispy app are the first one to suspect in my experience. Network applications too.

If that's not too much trouble, you could uninstall your security apps one after the other -- and see what happens after each uninstallation + reboot.

A chkdsk /f c: might be a good idea too.
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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2008, 05:32:26 PM »

running chkdsk to check for bad hard disk sectors is a good idea -- i had a laptop that could become really really slow (especially at boot) and it was traced to dying hard drive.  not sure why that causes this behavior but it did.
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johnk
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« Reply #9 on: March 22, 2008, 06:07:54 PM »

Thanks for all the advice.  I did try booting without any AV installed at one stage, but it didn't help.  The only firewall I've ever used is Kerio 2. I really don't think that's causing it. I'll run chkdsk tonight. Hope the hard drive isn't a problem.  I cannot stand the thought of a reinstall -- my system is hyper-modified and it would take days to get it back to this state.
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Armando
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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2008, 06:14:22 PM »

If the hard drive is a problem, it doesn't necessarily mean that data is bad. IMO, you should image it for future reference anyway before you do anything that'll make it spin and heat up for an extended period of time.
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"I suppose it can be said that I'm an absent-minded driver. It's true that I've driven through a number of red lights on occasion, but on the other hand, I've stopped at a lot of green ones but never gotten credit for it."
Glenn Gould
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« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2008, 06:28:46 PM »

if it was the hard drive, you could buy a nice new fast hd (10k rpm), install it in your pc or in an external usb enclosure, then clone current drive onto new drive, then replace new with old.  no reinstall of OS needed.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2008, 01:41:20 PM »

Have you checked your event log?

I have found that services failing (or being very slow) to start can cause log delays at startup. If there are no errors showing try putting a shortcut to eventvwr.msc in your HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run key.

It will load during system startup and you can watch system as the system loads - just keep hitting refress - see if anything in particular seems to take a long time to start. They should drop out with an error but if it is hogging the system maybe it is avoiding this!
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johnk
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« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2008, 08:46:27 AM »

try putting a shortcut to eventvwr.msc in your HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run key.

Carol,

Sorry for the slow reply -- I've been in an internet-free zone for the last couple of days (never a pleasant experience). I have taken a glance at the event log from time to time, but I'd never thought of putting the event viewer in my startup folder. Thanks for the tip.
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f0dder
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« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2008, 09:13:47 AM »

Go to Device Manager, check properties of your "IDE ATA/ATAPI controllers"->IDE Channels. Check advanced tab, and see if any adapters are in PIO mode. Optionally check some links from this google query for more information.

Next, find a S.M.A.R.T disk monitor (can't remember which one I used, so you'll have to google - if you're comfortable with DOS boot floppys / CDs / USB drives, find a drive diagnostic tool from your hard drive vendor). Especially check for the "reallocated sector count" SMART property, that's a pretty good indication that your drive is going bonkers.

Having your IDE channels in PIO mode sound like a very reasonable explanation for your symptoms (especially the 100% CPU usage). The cause of those symptoms can be multiple things, and bad sectors on your drive could very well be the explanation (would explain why you get complete freezes for a while... I recently fixed a laptop that had bad sectors on areas used by the registry...)

If anybody recommends you to purchase and run SpinRite, don't smiley
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johnk
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« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2008, 02:53:20 PM »

I really like XP, but sometimes.....

Well, first of all, thank you to everyone who responded, particularly those who sent me back to the Event Viewer, even though I had claimed to have gone through all the error messages and ruled them out. Well, there's always one you ignored, because the message was so very, very unhelpful...

In my case it was "the Server service has not started". What?

Of course it turns out, that this was my problem. For anyone who cares:

Some time ago, I installed an HP network printer on my network. Apparently, the HP JetAdmin software (and some Lexmark drivers) can lead to a conflict between the Spooler Service and the "Server service" (which I now know looks after sharing). This can cause the "15 minute freeze" that I was experiencing.

The solution is to make the Spooler service a dependency of the Server service ("sc config spooler depend= LanmanServer" at the DOS prompt adds the necessary value to the registry). And that was it. Problem solved. But hardly intuitive.

It did make me wonder (not for the first time) how people with little knowledge of computers ever manage to keep their machines in working order.

PS: I had the registry open when running the above command, and noticed that the new dependency replaced an existing dependency (the Remote Procedure Call Services). I have no idea if this will have any consequence, but so far I have not noticed any new problems. Presumably I can add multiple/group dependencies, but that is well beyond my level of knowledge.
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mouser
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« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2008, 03:26:19 PM »

great to hear you got it sorted out, and a big round of applause for everyone who helped and pointed john in the right direction.  always nice to see when a discussion here leads to a solution.
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2008, 05:43:09 PM »

Problem solved.

Glad to see that you're fixed up.  Must be a nice feeling...
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Chris
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« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2008, 07:48:31 PM »

Heh, sounds like some pretty insane symptoms for a bug like that!

I'm just glad it wasn't a harddrive problem, then - sure did sound that way though embarassed
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2008, 06:17:14 PM »

Glad to hear it is resolved.

Trouble is all sorts of crap accumulates in Windows which grind everything (including you) down over time.

I finally gave up trying to troubleshoot my system issues and have taken the plunge to do a complete reinstall from scratch. That's why I have been offline for two days.

I now have a resolution ... no more crap installs on my main system. Crap gets installed (if at all) in VMWare. VMWare is great because you can take a snapshot before you install anything, play for a while and then revert to the snapshot - so you don't have to uninstall and you don't accumulate rubbish!
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f0dder
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[Well, THAT escalated quickly!]

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« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2008, 06:51:59 PM »

I now have a resolution ... no more crap installs on my main system. Crap gets installed (if at all) in VMWare. VMWare is great because you can take a snapshot before you install anything, play for a while and then revert to the snapshot - so you don't have to uninstall and you don't accumulate rubbish!
Which is a very great idea, and I've been meaning to use that principle for a while... but it's just so much easier to install & test on your mainbox, instead of having to fire up vmware, drag over the install files, etc...

Lazyness wins over me every time Sad. SandboxIE sounded like a good compromise, but because of Microsoft's patchguard crap (and the lack of proper "OS-guided" hooking points), SandboxIE doesn't work on 64-bit windows.
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Armando
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« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2008, 09:50:43 PM »

Lazyness wins over me every time Sad.

Same thing here... Lots of great resolutions but...
I'm still thankful that imaging software exists. Image backups are my "snapshots"... and I tend to be fairly disciplined -- once every 2 weeks : image the C drive.
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"I suppose it can be said that I'm an absent-minded driver. It's true that I've driven through a number of red lights on occasion, but on the other hand, I've stopped at a lot of green ones but never gotten credit for it."
Glenn Gould
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« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2008, 02:17:54 PM »

i would just like add to this topic as i had exactly the same probs as above, it took me ages to rectify it and it turned out i had a couple of conflicts, one was sandboxie and the other was google internet accelerator, i uninstalled both and everything has been ok since. i dont know why these conflicts arose.
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