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Danny252
10-03-2012, 02:11 AM
So, my Windows Vista is (predictably) getting slower and slower to boot up over time - this laptop is getting on for 5 years, admittedly, but this is getting embarrasing. The 2 (somewhat separate) issues I have with it are:

1. It takes forever to get to the login screen - a good minute or two. I've poked the BIOS and the HD is set as primary boot thingymabob, so it's not sat there searching for USB Floppy drives or something silly - it just does the "Microsoft Windows Movey Loady Bar" thing for ages.

2. It takes a long time to become useable after login. An extra-thorough cleanout of autorun, services, etc. today has helped somewhat (it was trying to autostart a good couple of dozen programs which have been removed from my HD for years), so explorer is responsive before I've been waiting 5 minutes - but I'm still getting things starting up waaaay after I login and plenty of HD activity is going on. Startup programs are MSN Messenger, Netmeter, Steam, Gamestop and AV; the only services are those Windows-y ones which shout loudly and say "if you stop this I'll melt your memory sticks in protest" - I don't think that little should be giving it as much trouble as it seems to have

The problem is finding out what's taking so damn long - throughout all of this the HD is constantly being used, so something is always loading from file, but I have no idea what. Is it possible to get Windows to log what's using HD even before it gets to the login screen? I know there's the performance manager after I login, but that A) tells me the HD isn't doing anything when I can hear it clunking away happily and B) takes so long to get open that I've missed whatever's being slow already.

(The only other thought is that I could do with a boot-time defrag, not had one of those in a while)

Separate note - I've yet to dare upgrading from Firefox 3.6 as the newer versions I have tried have all done stupid things like removing the menu bar or status bar. Is there some newer version which keeps the same un-dumbed-down interface, but doesn't need a wheelchair at times?

Snargelfargen
10-03-2012, 02:28 AM
Vista added a new feature called Superfetch that automatically fills your ram with data from commonly used programs upon startup. That might be the issue, it usually causes a lot of hard drive thrashing, and can make the computer unresponsive for several minutes after booting and getting to windows. Win7 has it too, but the caching is much less aggressive so it usually goes unnoticed.

You can disable it which should speed things up, although much of that information may still have to be loaded next time you launch a program. I skipped straight from XP to Windows 7, so I don't have any experience with turning off Superfetch myself.Tomshardware (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-vista-superfetch-and-readyboostanalyzed,1532.html) has an article that goes into depth on the subject.

err, you should prbably follow Mistabashi's suggestions first before mucking about. Superfetch was the first thing that came to mind only because I was reading about it yesterday, haha.

Mistabashi
10-03-2012, 02:32 AM
There's a lot of things that can slow down Windows loading. Off the top of my head:

1) Your HDD may be getting old and starting to perform poorly - run something to check the SMART status and see if there's any major issues (you don't want it to suddenly die on you).

2) The contents of your HDD may be fragmented, or you've simply filled it up to the brim (HDDs perform worse when they're nearly full).

3) You have too many processes loading with Windows - uninstall things you don't need, and use msconfig to check/disable startup services if necessary. Better yet, back-up your files and do a clean install of Windows (if you didn't get a Windows disc with the system you can use the recovery partition to restore to factory condition).

4) You might have Malware on your system, which can cause all sorts of performance issues. Run a full scan with Malwarebytes to be sure.

That's what springs to mind anyway. As for your Firefox question, you can customise the interface how you want, so if you prefer the old default of menu bar on top and tabs below you can easily do that - just check the options menu. I really wouldn't recommend using such an old browser, there may well be security holes that have since been patched, plus compatibility with certain plug-ins and content might be an issue.

Odeon
10-03-2012, 03:15 AM
Yep, nothing makes an old computer feel like a brand-spanking new one like a clean re-install of whatever version of Windows you're using. It's a pain because you then have to go and re-install all of the programs you want again and re-configure everything to your liking, but by taking thorough stock of what you really want and how it's set up beforehand, it's not nearly so bad. And when I say "clean," I mean that you should have the installer perform a full format (not a quick one) of your hard drive, which also means that all data goes bye-bye. So on top of making a detailed listing of programs and configurations, you'll want to copy your data to a USB stick/external hard drive. Don't bother with moving it - it not only takes longer, but if you find out that your backup device didn't get everything or has a problem, you're not SOL, plus you're going to be wiping the drive anyway when you're ready.

If for some reason you aren't able to do a clean re-install, it's possible to find out what process(es)/service(s) are causing the long boot time and overall performance issue, but it's a painstaking process that may very well drain more time and be less effective than a clean re-install. Many people perform a clean re-install of Windows every couple of years (or every few months for the more extreme people) to prevent the kinds of issues you're experiencing and once you do it, it's easy to see why.

Of course, with better knowledge of what processes and services are actually needed to do the kinds of things you do on your computer, you'll be able to improve the performance of clean installs as well, but that can take a pretty long time to learn. It took me several months to really get to know what was necessary and what was optional (or in some cases dangerous) in terms of default XP services and stuff. It was a pretty effective way of speeding up XP, but there's less need to make such changes in Win7. I skipped Vista too, so it could be more useful to disable unnecessary things in Vista than in Win7, but it will probably not be as useful as it is with XP.

Danny252
10-03-2012, 11:54 AM
Yep, nothing makes an old computer feel like a brand-spanking new one like a clean re-install of whatever version of Windows you're using
Issue there being that I lack an installation CD (or is it DVDs these days?) - this is a pre-installed Windows on laptop. Maybe I'll hunt around and see if I can nab a Windows 7 install CD of someone. I do know how much faster a full reinstall can make things, I just wish I could do one!


Your HDD may be getting old and starting to perform poorly - run something to check the SMART status
Having checked, it's pretty healthy.


2) The contents of your HDD may be fragmented, or you've simply filled it up to the brim
It's getting to need a clean and I should probably defrag more often than I do. However, I gave it a good clean/defrag not too long ago, and that didn't improve performance a huge amount.


3) You have too many processes loading with Windows - uninstall things you don't need, and use msconfig to check/disable startup services if necessary.
See first post - this helped to some extent but there's still a fair bit of load time (especially before the login screen - I don't think any non-Windows processes are run before that?)


4) You might have Malware on your system, which can cause all sorts of performance issues. Run a full scan with Malwarebytes to be sure.
I'll give it a go, Avast might've missed something (despite getting more paranoid by the day)


Vista added a new feature called Superfetch that automatically fills your ram with data from commonly used programs upon startup.
The service was already on "Manual" and not started, so presumably it's not this.

Althea
10-03-2012, 12:01 PM
Separate note - I've yet to dare upgrading from Firefox 3.6 as the newer versions I have tried have all done stupid things like removing the menu bar or status bar. Is there some newer version which keeps the same un-dumbed-down interface, but doesn't need a wheelchair at times?
It's not dumbed down at all. If the menu bar is missing you just right click the bars showing (generally at the top) and select Menu Bar from the drop down menu.

Anyhoo - how much RAM are you on?

P.S. as for your start ups - stop them as much as possible. They can and will slow you down. Do it all yourself - I load up FF and DestroyTwitter every launch myself. I put them in the Start Menu so they're accessible.

DaftPunk
10-03-2012, 01:07 PM
You need to start living more healthy computer :/

pakoito
10-03-2012, 01:36 PM
Why are you using vista, and please install Soluto.

Olero
10-03-2012, 01:44 PM
Can you supply a list of the programs your pc runs when starting up? For there are some of those that can really grind your started to a crawl. While it might seem like a good idea to have autoupdaters on, it isn't (well, except for your antivirus/malware programs perhaps). Keeping your start-up list clean always caused me the most gain in start-up time.

Also, run a couple of programs like malwarebytes, spybot search & destroy, ccleaner and glary utilities, and see what they come up with. A good place to get them in one swipe is ninite.com (http://ninite.com/) (no ccleaner here though, strangely), which auto-installs all the programs you want, without installing those nasty toolbars/start pages etc. Also make sure all programs you've uninstalled are gone completely (also from the registry).

Check your windows (maintenance) settings as well. You might have something silly ticked on as "backup my hdd each day", or something else that always runs at start-up without it being (clearly) in the start-up list.

How full is your harddisk? It might not be full entirely, but if you only have 10% of space left, it might slow things down a lot (especially for older pc's). I usually take care not to claim more then 75% of the space of my HDD's.

Relating your browser; I'd update it for starters (all functionality is there still, though it mostly hidden better now). Also make sure you delete your history and temp files for the browser occasionally.

TL:DR; keep your computer as light as possible, don't run anything you don't need and clean things up regularly :)

Mistabashi
10-03-2012, 01:57 PM
Issue there being that I lack an installation CD (or is it DVDs these days?) - this is a pre-installed Windows on laptop. Maybe I'll hunt around and see if I can nab a Windows 7 install CD of someone. I do know how much faster a full reinstall can make things, I just wish I could do one!

If your system came with Windows pre-installed it almost certainly has a recovery partition to restore it to factory condition. You'll have to check with the manufacturer on how to access this feature, since AFAIK it requires a manufacturer specific utility.

Danny252
10-03-2012, 06:29 PM
It's not dumbed down at all. If the menu bar is missing you just right click the bars showing (generally at the top) and select Menu Bar from the drop down menu.
I think I tried FF4 or something, which was missing menu bars completely going by what I found on google. Either way, I just got FF10 (so it takes this long to do 3 versions, and now it's 6 in a year or something?), and it's still got all the menu-y stuff I want so all is good. Yay for being back in the present!


Anyhoo - how much RAM are you on?
3 GB


Why are you using vista, and please install Soluto.
Shelling out 60 quid for it would destroy my food budget for 3 weeks :( Soluto was of little help when I used it, I think all it did was say "well, Steam autoruns...".


Can you supply a list of the programs your pc runs when starting up?
From msconfig:
HD Audio Control Panel (might not be necessary? Sound on laptops always seem to be a pain to configure though), avast! AV, NetMeter (http://www.metal-machine.de/readerror/), Windows Live Messenger, Steam, GameStop


If your system came with Windows pre-installed it almost certainly has a recovery partition to restore it to factory condition
You might be onto something there, rather sure the partition is lying around somewhere. I'll look into it.


various things Olero said
HD is 15% free, which is a bit low compared to average. I'll have to go give it a clear out/move more things onto my external HD. Having checked the file list that Defraggler has thrown up, seems there's some stupidly huge temp files out there - Anno1404 and Leage of Legends both have huge temp files from download sat around. I guess my interpretation of temporary isn't programmers idea of temporary >_<

Snargelfargen
10-03-2012, 07:36 PM
Possibly a dumb question, but do you have any power saving settings turned on? Does the laptop take just as long to boot when it is charging?
Also, check if your AV is running any scans upon boot, or if it has a real time scanning function enabled that scans files when they are accessed.

Danny252
10-03-2012, 07:58 PM
Possibly a dumb question, but do you have any power saving settings turned on? Does the laptop take just as long to boot when it is charging?
Given the settings a once over and they look okay - this thing's almost permanently charging anyway.


Also, check if your AV is running any scans upon boot, or if it has a real time scanning function enabled that scans files when they are accessed.
Nothing shows for boot scans, but it does have a real-time function. Does it degrade protection much to turn off realtime scanning? The vast majority of things (all three per year) that get caught are upon connecting to dodgy/comprimised sites or file downloads (the latter of which is called up by browsers anyway), so I can't think of it changing too much, but I'd rather be safe/slow than sorry in this case!

Snargelfargen
10-03-2012, 10:24 PM
It's safe to turn real time scanning off so long as you practice safe browsing habits, and don't open random cracks for games and so on. You can always do an on demand scan of any downloaded files that look suspicious. That said, Mcaffee and Norton are the only AV's where I've seen or heard of it causing serious slowdowns. Hopefully Avast's implementation is better!

In any case, I strongly recommend installing the latest NoScript and Adblock for firefox, since most viruses these days are spread through dodgy advertisements, flash exploits and clickjacking. That combined with sensible browsing habits probably prevents more issues than relying on one AV to just deal with everything.

Have you done a Malwarebytes scan yet?

Danny252
10-03-2012, 11:59 PM
Edit: A pair of fairly uninteresting adware entries were found, so not much there.

(One thing I'll never understand - do freeware AV/spyware/etc tools intentionally try to look dodgy with their "WARNING YOU MUST RESTART NOW TO PROTECT YOUR SYSTEM" popups?)

Odeon
11-03-2012, 05:33 AM
I use McAfee VirusScan Enterprise 8.7i and my system boots in a flash, especially after moving to an SSD. The worst culprits are the system security suites that both McAfee and Symantec sell as forms of "total" protection but don't do much more than get it your way except for the virus protection portion, which is much cheaper by itself.

Anyway, seeing Live Messenger in your startup list is a red flag for me. Whenever I've worked on any computer that has it set for auto-start, I always go into the Options menu and disable "Start with Windows" (or however it's worded) and there's an immediate speed up in boot times. Try disabling that option and post again if it still takes a while to boot.

What manufacturer is your laptop? IBM/Lenovo laptops have a dedicated button or a specific key to press (F4 or whatever) to get into their special boot partition where things like re-installing Windows can be done. Dells come with DVDs, but I don't know about Acer, Asus, Gateway, etc., etc. off hand. If you post your model number, it should be pretty easy to drum up the instructions on how to get into that partition.

sirgoit
11-03-2012, 07:15 AM
Msconfig isn't great at showing everything that starts up. Get this instead (Microsoft utility)

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902

Danny252
11-03-2012, 12:08 PM
Msconfig isn't great at showing everything that starts up. Get this instead (Microsoft utility)
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902
Oh, that's nice. Cheers.

Just so you guys have some clue of what I'm on about, I timed the startup twice this morning. The timings were:
0:16.1 0:16.2 (Time from "pressing the button" to Windows load screen showing)
1:58.4 1:50.9 (Windows load screen to being able to input password on login screen)
0:30.3 0:39.7 (Putting in password to desktop showing)
2:40.3 2:34.4 (Desktop showing+clicking Firefox icon to being able to navigate to and load RPS)

The second run was done with WL Messenger turned off - not much difference!

I still need to get the defrag done (had it going in the background yesterday and still need quite a few hours more!)

gimperial
11-03-2012, 02:49 PM
What's the make and model of your laptop?

Try mashing F8 right after the BIOS finishes loading.

Danny252
11-03-2012, 04:07 PM
Acer Aspire 6930 - getting on a bit in age, I admit

Odeon
11-03-2012, 09:05 PM
I'd forgotten all about Autoruns and I'm happy to see that it's still being updated! Thanks for the link sirgoit. 8-)

That really is quite a lot of time between the Windows loading animation and login prompt and the time between the desktop showing and being able to load Firefox and get to RPS is ridiculous. Try booting into Safe Mode by repeatedly pressing F8 right after the Acer logo goes away (after POST) and time the complete startup process again two more times to make sure there isn't some one-time difference. If your times are still very long, your hard drive is either too full and/or dying on you. If you get into Safe Mode pretty quickly, it means that the problem is Windows and/or startup programs.

Either way go to http://support.acer.com/product/default.aspx?modelId=570 and download your User Manual (last green Download button), unzip the PDF and jump to page 21 (page 1 of the manual) to see how to open the Acer Empowering Technology program. Then jump to page 82 (page 62 of the manual) to see how to burn a restore DVD (in case your HDD is dying or dies at any time in the future) and how to restore your laptop to "factory default" (if your HDD is fine). A factory default restore typically formats your HDD and re-installs Windows to the exact state it was at when you first bought it, including any pre-installed bloatware apps. Because of the format process, you'll want to get all of your docs, videos, pics, etc. onto your external HDD before doing a factory default restore or before your drive dies on you.

Danny252
12-03-2012, 07:17 PM
I gave safemode a run (I was a bit naughty and didn't do multiple tries, oh the joys of not having a huge amount of time to spend restarting) - Windows loady bar was 1:02, login screen to desktop was 0:19 and to get FF up and running was 0:31 - a fair improvement. Meanwhile, the Windows load screen/time to login hasn't changed a huge amount on normal mode (1:55ish still) but the responsiveness for logging in and doing stuff is up (0:20 to login vs 0:35ish, and 1:34 to get to RPS compared to the old 2:40)

I'm starting to think that a Windows reinstall is probably the only way to go now - there isn't really a huge amount more optimising I can do (removing anything I've not yet disabled with Autoruns tends to have the undesired effect of disabling my keyboard, drive is pretty much as non-fraggy as possible, I've turned off unnecessary bits in the AV...); and it's the Windows loading time which hasn't changed at all during this.

Odeon
13-03-2012, 04:31 AM
Yep, I think it's best to get your system ready for a factory restore. Even if there are some things that can be adjusted, the time investment needed to figure out which things will make slight improvements isn't worth it.

I hope you've got a big external drive. ;-)

Danny252
13-03-2012, 05:24 PM
Yep, I think it's best to get your system ready for a factory restore. Even if there are some things that can be adjusted, the time investment needed to figure out which things will make slight improvements isn't worth it.

I hope you've got a big external drive. ;-)

200GB internal vs 1TB+250GB+75GB externals (The latter two having been "salvaged" from long-dead computers back home) - I should manage! At least with all this cleaning out of the HD/programs I have a whole lot less to move over. Thanks for the advice chaps :)

somini
13-03-2012, 10:53 PM
For the love of god, don't do a factory restore. Just reinstall Windows with the key that is in the bottom of the laptop and then you can go to your PC manufacturer's site and download all the missing drivers.
If you do a factory restore all those bloatware programs that come pre-installed will be forever ingrained. You can borrow a DVD from a friend and install it with your key, or even *ahem*acquire the DVD in a less legal way.
As long as the key you use is the one that came with the computer you are clear. I made it myself, you just need to activate Windows online or by phone after the installation.

Odeon
14-03-2012, 06:04 AM
Actually, that's a good point. All computers are much better off with clean installs of empty (non-OEM) Windows. If you use any of the stuff that was pre-installed, chances are pretty good that you can download those programs from Acer's site at the same time that you're downloading your drivers.

You might try the restore DVD procedure in the Acer manual instead of looking for/borrowing someone else's disc. Sometimes the disc that's created is a blank OEM-licensed copy of Windows like the versions that come with Dells. The only way to know for sure, unfortunately, is to go ahead and burn the DVD, but even if it turns out to be the same as the factory restore at least you'll have that backup in case of drive failure on your laptop. Plus the OEM keys that are on the cases of towers and laptops by Acer, Dell, Asus, Gateway, etc. don't always work with retail Windows DVDs, especially in the case of Win7. You may need to find the specific OEM copy of Vista to use your key, which is what I'd hope the restore DVD would be.

somini
14-03-2012, 11:05 AM
I thought that if you have a retail DVD you can install with the OEM key, just the opposite is not possible. I might be wrong, though.

Odeon
14-03-2012, 10:35 PM
Unfortunately that's not the case. At my last job we bought OEM licenses for Win7 Pro 64 and tried two or three different installers downloaded through MSDN (I think) before we finally found the exact right one. XP was very lenient with keys but 7 is just about the polar opposite.

skitfarlig
26-03-2012, 11:25 AM
In Windows 7 there is a feature called ReadyBoost. I haven't used it myself so I'm not sure how it works.

All I know is that you need a USB stick. I think ReadyBoost then puts some critical or heavy Windows files on the stick and boots from it, which is much faster then booting from a mechanical HDD.

Check if Windows Vista has this feature! :)

Althea
26-03-2012, 11:55 AM
In Windows 7 there is a feature called ReadyBoost. I haven't used it myself so I'm not sure how it works.

All I know is that you need a USB stick. I think ReadyBoost then puts some critical or heavy Windows files on the stick and boots from it, which is much faster then booting from a mechanical HDD.

Check if Windows Vista has this feature! :)
It does, but it's largely pointless unless you have low RAM, I believe.

LTK
30-03-2012, 01:05 AM
If you start up msconfig.exe, go to the Boot tab, then to Advanced Options, there is a Number of Processors checkbox, which is usually unchecked and set to one, so the computer only uses a single core to start up. I think you have a dual-core processor, so you can set it to two, which might make a difference. The checkbox might be in a slightly different place in Vista, but it's somewhere in msconfig.exe at least.

roryok
19-05-2012, 03:59 PM
Vista is slower than XP or Windows 7. I'd recommend you upgrade or downgrade. Definitely a fresh install either way. Windows 7 home Premium is about €110 new, but someone you know is bound to have an XP key lying around.

I'm on a 2006 macbook which has a CoreDuo (not core2duo, just a crappy coreduo), & 2GB of RAM which I can't upgrade. Your machine should trounce this. Windows boot takes very little time. Actually, I'm going to go time it and come back with an answer after I post this.

EDIT: Boot Times:
0:42 > password prompt
1:01 > usable desktop
1:16 > Chrome open on RPS forums

Take away 5 seconds for the macbook EFI menu letting me choose partitions, and about another 5 to type my password and hit enter.

Check in your BIOS that you have SATA native mode enabled, otherwise HD access will be slower (only marginally but it all helps)

If you have a genuine copy of windows (or even if you don't .) you can use Microsoft Essentials, which is the lowest profile Antivirus I've ever used. But honestly, I don't think AV is that important either way. I've never gotten a virus. Most viruses come from people installing dodgy things, clicking on email attachements etc. Common sense and computer experience beats antivirus every time, and you seem to have plenty of both.

If you find an XP disc, that €110 could go toward an SSD. I've tried the Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid drive, and I didn't notice a huge difference over a standard HDD. It also caused me some GPU glitch problems due to power usage when on battery. Ended up going back to a standard HDD.

Get an app called Startup Delayer. It's free and it lets you delay your startup apps as long as you like. Chances are you won't use skype in the first minute of computer use, but it could save you time getting to the desktop.

Turn off system restore and indexing services. I've heard they help a lot. If you use chrome, theres a flashblocker and a social widgets blocker that speed up my webbrowsing an enormous amount. You'd be AMAZED.

If you only do one thing on this list, reformat and install from scratch. I do it every few months just to keep things fresh. It also helps me organise myself by keeping all my essential files in one place so I can move them to an external drive (or dropbox) and back again

EDIT 2:

If you don't already use it I highly recommend Hibernate mode. Boot time is faster and it keeps apps open (including tray apps, saving mucho load time). Some people will say hibernate is unstable, and you might encounter an occasional crash when resuming. This will mean you'll lose your session. However, not using hibernate means you lose your session every time you turn off your machine

Kamikaze-X
19-05-2012, 05:07 PM
EDIT: Boot Times:
0:42 > password prompt
1:01 > usable desktop
1:16 > Chrome open on RPS forums

[/I]
That long eh? I think you need to look at your own boot and see what is slowing it down.

FriendlyFire
19-05-2012, 05:50 PM
There's a last thing you can do which I haven't seen listed, and that's to run a full diagnostic using xbootmgr and xperf. There's a tutorial for this here:
http://www.msfn.org/board/topic/140247-trace-windows-7-bootshutdownhibernatestandbyresume-issues/

xbootmgr will do a full timing run of the ENTIRE boot process, from the moment the loading icon appears up to a usable and loaded desktop. It then spits out an XML report that tells you what's happening during boot. It's how I sadly figured out that the only things taking long during my boot sequence were my 2 HDDs and my sound card getting loaded.

Note however that some things may not apply to Vista. I've no idea whether xbootmgr/xperf is even available for it, but considering how similar the codebases are I'd assume so.

slick_101
19-05-2012, 09:01 PM
Software Get soluto, this has speed up my computer a great deal. though my computer does take 2 minutes-ish to have everything all booted properly I can use it from about 1:30 in

roryok
19-05-2012, 10:05 PM
That long eh? I think you need to look at your own boot and see what is slowing it down.

It's actually a completely fresh install because OSX ate my partitions last week. It's 2GB and a CoreDuo, and its 6 years old. That's why I'm upgrading!

Granted it was a bit faster when not set up for dual boot.