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Any tool that immediately shows boot time problems?

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I was asked if I can take a look at a friend's computer this weekend.
Either Vista or Windows 7 is running on it. He isn't at home so I'll know
this when I'm there *yeah*

Is there any windows software that can display which auto-starting things
(processes, auto-start entries) are adding <x> seconds to the boot time?

The PC takes ~ 4 minutes to boot up^^ He defragments the only existing
hdd (1 partition only) regularly so defragmentation shouldn't be the problem...

Under Windows 7 Windows Performance Toolkit could be used to trace
the boot (via xbootmgr) but I hope there is something easier...

Apart from that, can anybody recommend (from personal usage!) an utility
that cleans & defragments the registry but only safe entries. Like WiseCare
et al?

One thing you can do with the software already on the system is set msconfig to enable boot logging.  If your friend has some half uninstalled programs there may still be entries in the system to load drivers that have been deleted.  Each time one of these in encountered the system waits until time-out seconds before moving onto the next item to load.  My guess is the time out is 15 seconds.  So every 4 items not found adds a minute to the boot.

After you enable boot logging and boot, the system will create a file in the Windows folder called Ntbtlog.txt.  It is basically what you would see scroll up the screen if you booted with no gui.  If you see a bunch of files not found then you may only need to run a registry cleaner(such as Wise portable reg cleaner free) to get rid of them.  If stuff is left over from AV programs like Norton you may have to run the appropriate removal tool and/or Revo Uninstaller, once you know which programs have left crap behind.

I recommend backing up the registry before doing anything to fix it.  The Wise cleaner should do it automatically but check the setting is enabled(I believe it is by default.)

Also you can use AutoRuns to track down something autoloading from a non-obvious place.

If the problem is not the system trying to load non-existent files the next thing I would look for is anything requiring network access such as a mapped network drive that is not mapped.  If there is only one PC then this is a lot less likely.  :)

Myself I would watch the HD access LED if possible, during boot.  If it hardly flickers but there are delays then it is likely time-out issues.  If it is going crazy then there may be a whole bunch of unnecessary crap trying to load.  There may be some automatic analysis freeware but I am not familiar with such software.  Seems like to work it would have to boot the system and look at the system logs.  Just saves you from using msconfig.  But there may be more sophisticated stuff I am not aware of.

Autoruns will tell you if any startup item is missing (drivers, etc) and you can disable stuff that doesn't need to run at startup, eg. Adobe fast loader, etc, so I'd probably run that first before having to read through the lengthy boot log.

Another tool that can help pinpoint startup problems, FRST (I have used this to fix some problems highlighted when MBAM 3 wouldn't work) - Usage.

Along with the usual snakeoil warnings about it being not necessary to defrag the registry these days, when I used to do it, ERUNT and NTREGOPT were the only ones I used.

Although software is the most likely cause of the boot problems, a dying hard disk can seriously p.op the party, no matter if its content is regularly defragged. Heck, the controller chip that enables the hard disk to communicate with the rest of the hardware can also be failing.

Investigating boot problems with AutoRuns is a very good idea. From the same company you can also get a tool, called: Process Explorer. With that you can see which all processes that are currently a more extensive way than the standard Windows Task Manager does. This software also shows you how much I/O (Input/Output) that system has to process. There is cause for worry when the system isn't doing much and I/O remains high. I/O is one of the main causes of a computer being slow.

The other main cause of slowing a computer is a high value at the 'Interrupts' section of Process Explorer when the computer isn't doing anything. That is a clear sign the hardware starts to "fight" for attention of the CPU, literally bogging everything down. You notice this already in normal operation of the system, and even more so during boot.

The tools AutoRuns and Process Explorer are free, do not require to be installed and are part of of a suite of tools (also free) with a lot more gems inside.

I've seen AVG antivirus (free) slow down the boot process to a crawl, but that was some years ago. There may still be issues like that, can't tell, as I've stopped using AVG for this and other reasons years ago :tellme:
Removing any antivirus, even if only for testing, might give the desired clue.


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