Diagnose slow Windows boot with Event Viewer

Diagnose slow Windows boot with Event Viewer

Microsoft developers did a lot of work to make Windows Vista or Windows 7 boot more quickly than previous versions. But, there are still issues that can make your computer boot more slowly than it should.

Event Viewer to track down potential causes of long boot times.

Windows Event Viewer is a great tool for gathering information that you can then use to troubleshoot many different problems — including longer than normal boot times.

Now, there are a whole host of factors than can influence your machine’s boot time, like the processor speed, memory speed, hard disk speed, and the applications and drivers that run when Windows starts. So there is no guarantee that Event Viewer will reveal THE cause of boot slowdowns on every computer. Some machines may just need new hardware.

But thanks to a new set of Event Viewer logs called Applications and Servicers Logs, it can be an effective tool when troubleshooting longer than expected boot times.

To start using Event Viewer, click the Start button, type Event in the Start Search box, and select Event Viewer from the search results.

From Main Event Viewer window, you could manually drill down through the Applications and Services Logs and begin looking through the events. But you can save yourself quite a bit of time by creating a Custom View, which will show you only the events that pertain to boot times.

To do so, pull down the Action menu and select the Create Custom View command.

When you see the Create Custom View dialog box, leave the Logged option set at the default value of Any Time and select all the Event level check boxes.

Next, select the By Log option button, if it is not already selected, and click the dropdown arrow.

Then, drill down through the following the path: Applications and Services Logs | Microsoft | Windows | Diagnostics-Performance. When you get to the Diagnostics-Performance branch, select the Operational check box.

Now, type 100 in the Includes/Excludes Event IDs box.

Log entries with the Event ID 100 will show how long your machine takes to boot. And having this information can help you identify when your boot time began to increase.

Once all the options are set, click OK.

The Save Filter to Custom View dialog box should appear. Enter an appropriate name, like Boot Time, and click OK.

Now, that we have a way to determine when our machine’s boot process started to slow down, we need a way to determine potential causes.

To get this information, we’re going to create a second Custom View that looks at log entries with Event ID 101 thru 110. These events represent different problems that can cause degradation of your machine’s boot time.

So repeat the process just outlined, but this time, type 101-110 in the Includes/Excludes Event IDs box and name it something like Boot Degradation.

With our new Custom Views in place, we can now begin our boot slowdown investigation.

From within Event Viewer, select Boot Time in the Custom Views tree and then sort the Date and Time column in ascending order by clicking the column heading.

When you do, you’ll see a complete history of every time you have booted your system since the day you installed Windows Vista or Windows 7 . Browsing through this list, you can identify points in time when Windows took longer to start than normal.

Keep in mind that some normal activities (such applying patches, updating drivers, and installing software) can lengthen the boot time.

To investigate instances that cause Windows Vista or Windows 7 system’s boot time to slow down, select Boot Degradation in the Custom Views tree and then sort the Event ID column in ascending order.

As I mentioned before, each Event ID, 101 through 110, represents a different type of situation that causes degradation of the boot time.

And while occasional degradation is normal, if you find an application or driver that’s degrading your boot time on a regular basis, it’s likely a problem.

Now, there are ten different Event IDs here, not all of them occur on all systems and under all circumstances. As such, I’ll focus on a few of the most common.

First, Event ID 102 indicates that a driver took longer to initialize. Again, this could be the result of an update. But if it occurs regularly for a certain driver or has a large degradation time, you should definitely look in to a newer version of the driver. If a new version is not available, you can also try uninstalling and reinstalling the driver.

Second, Event ID 103 indicates that a service took longer than expected to start up.  Like drivers, services can occasionally take longer to start up than normal, but they shouldn’t do so on a regular basis.

If you encounter a service that is regularly having problems, you can go to the Services tool and experiment with changing the Startup type to Automatic (Delayed Start) or Manual.

Lastly, Event ID 109 indicates that a device took longer than normal to initialize. Again, if this is happening occasionally, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

But if it is occurring regularly, you should make sure that you regularly back up your hard disk and begin investigating replacing the device in question.

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