Very slow start up - need advice, please

Discussion in 'Windows OS's' started by XEyedBear, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. XEyedBear

    XEyedBear Geek Trainee

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    I have a very slow start-up of my system (typically 9 minutes or so). I have followed all the advice I can find on the web, but mostly there has been no improvement (because I think my system was fairly 'clean' so start with. Any further advice would be gratefully received. The last thing I did was to remove some start up programs, which reduced the time from 8mins 54 secs to 8mins 25 secs....

    I fear this might be a combined hardware and software issue, but I'm starting here, if that's OK.

    Here's some background:

    - Asus A8V mobo
    - AMD Athlon 64 Socket 939 3700+ San Diego core running at 2.2 GHz
    - 2 Mb ( 4 sticks x 512 Mb) Corsair memory, DDR2 PC 3200 running in dual channel mode
    - Boot disk is Hitachi 60 Gb 7200 rpm IDE with 8 Mb cache
    - D drive (paging set) is a raid-mirror of 2 x 250 GB Seagate SATA-I drives
    - Graphics card is Matrox Millennium P650, driving LCD at 1900 x 1200 ( replacement with ATI Sapphire X1650 Pro made no difference; I don't need any 3D acceleration).

    - OS is XP-SP2 with the current set of security fixes

    - Security is Norton Internet supplied as a service through Brit Telecom/Yahoo

    Application set is rich

    What really bothers me is comparison with a 'smaller' system I also have, with Asus K8V VM mobo and 2 GHz Socket 754 Venice core. The Venice system presents the Windows desktop in about 15 seconds from boot and finishes loading in about 90 seconds; the San Diego system requires about 2 minutes to show the desktop and then another 7 minutes apparently loading things.

    - There is no virus/spyware/trojan infection on system, according to Norton. I am behind a router firewall.
    - System has been 'cleaned' with CCleaner, latest version
    - both drives full defragged
    - IDE drive is running at DMA mode 5
    - system seems to run at about 2 to 5% CPU load most of time
    - memory used is mostly about 600 Mb except when Photoshop being used, when it will rise to 1700 Mb
    - BIOS settings all seem to be appropriate
    - CPUZ says hardware is running at expected speed, aside from 1 puzzling stat: the 'memory ' tab in CPUZ says the memory is running at 157 MHz (FAS:DRAM = CPU/14), but the 'SPD' tab reports 200 MHz on all 4 memory banks


    I have removed Windows Defender from the system; it made no discernible difference.

    I have turned off indexing.

    I have set the OS select boot option time to zero

    I don'tthink Norton INternet Security is doing any scans at start up.


    If anybody has some ideas of where the problem might be, I would be most grateful for some suggestions.
     
  2. Ghostman 1

    Ghostman 1 Moderator Staff Member

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    First thing, Remove Norton... Norton is the worst AV to use. I would install
    either AVG or Avast.. Plus a firewall.... Ghostwall or older zonealarm.
    use ccleaner and then Defrag..
     
  3. XEyedBear

    XEyedBear Geek Trainee

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    Thanks for advice.

    CCleaner has been run repeatedly. On the first attempt it removed just over 16,000 (yes thousand) objects and reduced boot time by 10 seconds (or about 2%) - so that's clearly not where the problem lies.

    The disks are all defragged, showing no red lines on the analysis report. Effect on boot time was undetectable.

    Norton is somewhat important - AVGAS and others do not provide anti-virus functionality and Norton has proved better in this respect than 3 other offerings I have tried in the past 18 months. It is however a huge consumer of resources - in fact the largest memory user on my computer, aside from Photoshop and Lightroom. This means my computer is mostly doing security checks and no useful work....

    And I'm still left with a 9 minute boot time...
     
  4. Fred

    Fred Moderator

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    Well first of all I have to agree with Ghostman, you should ditch Norton AV and get AVG or Avast. The ones he is referring to can be found here and here. However, I will go on to say that I agree with you in that it is very likely not a large portion of the cause of your slow boot problem.

    Going further, I would recommend that you go to the start menu and then to run and type 'msconfig'. Now go into the startup tab. You're going to want to remove anything from startup that does not need to start up with the system. In Windows XP, you can remove ANY program in the starup tab without damaging Windows, however it is wise to only remove the things that you are sure about. When you're done, click apply and ok. It is going to ask you if you want to restart. You should go ahead and do so as long as you have any open documents saved. When it restarts, all those useless programs will also not start up with the sytem. This should improve boot time significantly.

    One more thing you can do that is a bit less significant is to go through add/remove programs in your control panel and get rid of any programs that are not needed. This will not directly affect startup time but removing certain programs will also remove them from startup.

    It is also important to make note of the fact that spyware can significantly decrease startup time. I understand that you have Norton Antivirus, but that will pick up a very small amount of spyware. I would run Adaware and Spybot Search and Destroy and see what it comes up with. I can not stress how many times I have seen malware as the main cause of system slowdowns, so take this possibility seriously as being infected is also a security and privacy risk.

    Lastly, I want to let you know that sometimes it is just wise to completely reinstall Windows. Microsoft themselves actually recommend that customers reinstall the operating system once every year. I know it seems unbelievable, but unfortunately Windows is just not very solid of an OS. And I want to push this option a bit closer to you simply based on the fact that CCleaner found 16,000 errors. This is an uncommonly huge amount of registry errors and does not make for a very stable OS. Anyways, I know this is a bit long but if you're set on keeping your current install, at least take the other paragraphs seriously and keep us posted with how the work is going and we'd be glad to help with any other issues.

    Fred
     
  5. XEyedBear

    XEyedBear Geek Trainee

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    Many thanks for this significant input.

    Let me say again that Norton does provide AV services; AVGAS provides anti-spyware services; these are complementary rather than alternatives - I need both. Having said that, I re-installed AVGAS and ran it in safe mode last night. It found 1 piece of Malware, in a zipped file that is an archive of a very old application (at least 10 years old) which I purchased but never installed. I don't believe that file had ever been opened - certainly not in the last 10 years, especially as it is a Win 3.1 only application. It is also a file which has been examined by AVGAS, AdAware, Spybot and Norton at least 50, if not 150times in the past, without problem, as part of my weekly scans.

    In others words, it's a false positive and my system - according to Norton and AVGAS - is malware free.

    I have run msconfig, as you suggest, to remove start up files which 'I am sure about'. And there's the rub: I am a computer user, not a system developer working for Adobe/Macromedia or Symantec or Microsoft or Nikon or HP or Epson or Creative or ..... so most of the items listed by msconfig as being loaded at start-up fall in the category 'I know I'm not sure about'. Being cautious I left them there. I do know that taking some of them out will shift the 'slow' problem from being a 'start-up' one to being an 'operate' one - which is even worse.

    I have long since removed as many programs as I could using 'Add/Remove', but I tend to have failry extensive software application needs to cover my computing requirements: much of the MS Office and Adobee/Macromedia suites, along with other photo management tools, scanning and printing appplications. I keep 2 computers synchronised (for backup) over my LAN (the other computer has an almost identical application set, is about 70% of the performance of this problem one , but boots in under 2 minutes!) so I also have software that is suitable for comparing files and folders.

    All this makes the idea of re-installling Windows quite horrible. The last build took nearly 3 days from pre-start backup (I have just over 2 million files on this system) to post install backup. And -as per usual - MS told me that I had to buy yet another copy of XP (they tell me this on every rebuild). So I am going to try to hang on for a while more. But then I think it will be time to look at a move to an operating environment that is supported by a company more firmly dedicated to secure and reliable computing.
     
  6. Ghostman 1

    Ghostman 1 Moderator Staff Member

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    Let me say again , REMOVE NORTON and see how it boots then. AND AGAIN,
    NORTON IS THE WORST AV TO USE.. Also you can try this software called (BootVis )
    It will speed up your boot times..
     
  7. XEyedBear

    XEyedBear Geek Trainee

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    Beg pardon! I'm listening, hearing and - now - understanding your message. I'll try it.

    Any advice on a suitable, effective replacement anti-virus product?

    [I did use F-Secure; under its 'protection' I had my worst virus attack ever, which took weeks to recover from, so that product will never get near my computers again. (To be fair, the F-Secure tech. support team did admit the fault - but the damage was done by then).]
     
  8. Ghostman 1

    Ghostman 1 Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, Depends on each system.. If you have allot of ram, then Kaspersky is the best followed by Nod32... I have used/tried them all.. and if your pc is taking a long time too boot, then the two best is AVG and Avast... They are both lite on resources..There can be any number of things causing it too boot real slow.
    I also would try BootVis..
     
  9. Fred

    Fred Moderator

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    First off, everything in that startup tab can be removed without hurting your system. What I would do is basically remove everything except your Antivirus and spyware appications. Reboot and see if it seems much better. If you feel like you are missing some applications, go back into msconfig and look for the program you want starting. Lastly, you can post your list on this thread and we can take a look at it and tell you if there's anything we'd recommend removing.
     
  10. XEyedBear

    XEyedBear Geek Trainee

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    I have now removed Norton froom my system. I was surrpised to find that the claimed 'complete removal' left more than 50 registry entries still in place - discovered and cxorrected by CCleaner.

    After removal of Norton and elimination of a few other entries in start-up, the boot time reduced to 55 seconds for the desktop to appear and 1 min 55 seconds for loading to complete. That's a dramatic change - mostly caused by removal of Norton, as you had advised.

    Having 2 Gb of RAM I have installed a trial version of Kaspersky Internet Security. This has increased loading time to 1min 50 secs for the desktop to appear and 3 mins 5 seconds for loading to be complete - -that's still a hell of an improvement from 9 minutes. And I am fullly protected now (for 30 days or until the bank manager will help me buy the Kaspersky product - which ever occurs sooner!).

    There were also other benefits on the way: Kaspersky immediately found a piece of Malware that Norton, AVGAS, AdAware and Spybot had not found

    Thanks for the advice and for your patience.

    Is there any easy way lo transfer the msconfig startup list entries into a text file? I can't even copy/paste it and can't afford the time to transcribe it by hand.
     
  11. Fred

    Fred Moderator

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    Follow the information provided in this link and paste the information here. Hope that helps!
     
  12. XEyedBear

    XEyedBear Geek Trainee

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