A brand new PC or a fresh installation of Windows starts really quickly and the desktop appears within seconds of switching on. After a year or two, or even just a few months in some cases, the time taken to start Windows is measured in minutes, not seconds. Why does this always seem to happen and how can you track down the cause of the problem?
A slow startup is caused by software and services being installed in Windows. The more you add, the slower Windows starts up when you switch on the PC. (It happens to Apple Macs to a certain extent too, if you're wondering, and it's not specific to Windows.) If you never installed anything on the hard disk drive then Windows wouldn't slow down, but you can't do that of course. You have to install at least some software or the PC wouldn't be useful for anything and with each application that is added, there is the potential to lengthen the Windows startup time.
Programs and services that automatically start with Windows are the main problem. They take time to start and each one adds a few seconds to the total startup time. Some auto-starting programs and services are worse than others. Removing as many as you can will help, but it is best to discover which the worst offenders are and to remove those first. It will have a bigger effect than some minor program or service that takes just a few milliseconds.
A useful tool for tracking down startup problems is Event Viewer. This software is used examines the logs that Windows creates when it is running. Windows records a wide range of events in various logs and this includes a report on how long it took to start up and if any programs took too long to initialise.
Click Start and enter
event viewer into the search box. Click Event Viewer in the Start menu. When the window appears, expand Applications and Services Logs. Expand Microsoft, Windows, Diagnostics-Performance and then select Operational below it.
In the top centre pane is a list of events that have been recorded. Look in the Event ID column for 100. This is the Windows startup report and selecting it displays the the boot duration in milliseconds - 1000 milliseconds is 1 second. It may be flagged as Critical in the Level column.
Items related to the startup process have event IDs of 101, 102, 103 and so on. select any that appear in the list and see what they say. You may see something like "This application took longer than usual to start up, resulting in a performance degradation in the system startup process." This will be followed by the name of the offending file.
Sometimes there's nothing you can do about it because it is a Windows file or it is part of an essential program you can't live without. However, sometimes it is software you can either remove from the startup process by changing options in the program or by uninstalling it if you don't use it much.
Event Viewer doesn't tell you everything you need to know, but it is a good place to start when trying to work out why a PC is taking a long time to start.