How can I diagnose a laptop that takes 20-30 minutes to start Windows?

Darren Reynolds May 2, 2013

A friend has asked me to look at his laptop (Toshiba L300 running Windows 7) as it is running very slow.

The issue I am seeing is that when you turn on the laptop it is taking a considerable amount of time to startup and login. This time is in excess of 20-30 minutes. The disk activity light on the laptop is continuous.

I cant work out if it is a hardware issue, software or a virus, but would really appreciate any advice or tips on how to check the system.

  1. Darren Reynolds
    May 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Definitely the hard drive. Thank you all.

  2. Vishal Srivastava
    May 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Ohk, i know you say its been solved but here's what I'd do anyway-
    ->Boot from a Linux Live CD. If it works fine- No hardware problem. If it doesn't it may be a virus or hardware problem but not a software problem.
    ->Next use a Bootable Virus CD. Check for viruses, and you'll get if its an issue with Virus or not.
    ->If it's an issue with viruses, cleaning the disk for viruses should be fine.
    ->If it's a software issue, remove startup programs or try a Linux based OS.
    ->If it's a hardware issue, it can be with 3 components mainly- RAM, Disk and Processor.

  3. Darren Reynolds
    May 3, 2013 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you for all the advice. I have tried another disk, my daughter has the same laptop so I swapped it over and that appeared fine. Im just creating a Linux Live CD so that I can then scan the hard drive to see if that is the problem....

    • ha14
      May 5, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      if it is the hard drive do SMART analysis so that to check if it is time to do backup and replace it.
      Hard disk Sentinel

      sometime factory restore can heal the problem. check your laptop manual to find out how to do it; Thais will erase all files and install Windows.

  4. Oron Joffe
    May 2, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    There are plenty of good suggestions above, so I will concentrate on methodology instead. Ask yourself this:
    - Is this a hardware or software problem? You can find out by using a Live CD (or possibly SafeMode). If the PC works fine,
    + HARDWARE: try another hard disc. Is the problem solved? Good. Not? Probabaly motherboard - bad...
    + SOFTWARE: Full disc? Overloaded startup processes or a fault (runaway process, driver trouble etc)?
    ++ It's easy to check for a full disc (if it's over 90% full you'll have serious problems, but you should try to keep it below 80%).
    ++ You can check for too many startup processes using Soluto, CCleaner or many other tools. Safe Mode also gives a good indication as startup will be faster even though you're running with slower drivers.
    ++ Faults is a very broad category, so I can't summarise everything here, but you can certainly look in task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Escape) under "processes" and see if anything is using up too much RAM or CPU cycles and take your clue from there.

    As a bonus point, once you have got your machine to work a bit better, remove cruft (temp files etc) with a tool such as CCleaner and defragment the disc.

  5. Dave Rimmer
    May 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Hi. You already have lots of ideas to try, when bootup starts to lag it usually points to as omething that is not loading as it should, ie corrupt program, App, software or driver. Have you tried booting in Safe Mode to see if it boots any quicker as it loads much less hardware/software. You could try this which will tell you what loads at boot and how long they are taking so you see for yourself -
    This one is better than Task manager as it gives more info and tells what they are - Also try a cold boot that means Start/type Msconfig select run as Admin then go to startup entries and Disable All reboot if boots quicker then a Startup item is causing it if it is still the same then go to Msconfig again but this time click Services click on Hide all Microsoft Services then Disable All, reboot if still the same then you have ruled out all Startup and Service items. Ask them have they installed any new Programs Apps or Drivers ifd so look at them, when you have tried what everone has suggested get back to us at the end of the day if it is a virus a reinstall may be the best way to go.

  6. tiera limo
    May 2, 2013 at 10:57 am


    • Tina Sieber
      May 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      Tiera, please do not copy&paste content from other sources and if you do, please provide a link back. Thank you.

  7. Nevzat A
    May 2, 2013 at 10:14 am

    The first thing to do is checking hw health, memory, cpu as others said. Secondly check for any virus infection. If all is OK, then analyse it further :

    You can use Windows Task Manager and see which processes use CPU and disk, while Windows is loading the desktop. Of course this is only valid if Windows loads up to desktop fine, but does not finish the process for at least 15-20 mins like you said.

    Another analyse option is to use Windows Event Viewer to see any error messages in the system log.

    You can also use a software called Soluto which is specialized for just this task : analysing boot process and reporting, improving boot. It's also recently featured here on MUO

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      May 2, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      I also 100% agree that Soluto would be very helpful in resolving such situation. Also checkout . Moreover, it is free for upto 5 PCs. :)

    • Rajaa Chowdhury
      May 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      I have used it extensively to remote suppot all my relative's PC and they have all been pretty happy. :)

  8. ha14
    May 2, 2013 at 8:23 am

    if it is hardware problem then you can't do much
    open the laptop and check the cables if are well connected, also reset/replace cmos battery, remove the ram and clean it from the dust and replug.

    laptop must have recovery partition use it to get back factory settings (first do backup of important files sinces they will be erased)

  9. yudics
    May 2, 2013 at 7:42 am

    try this, so simple tricks,1. run scandisk (right click on drive (ex: C:, D:, E:), select Tool option from tab menu and then press "check now" button), 2. run disk clean up (right click on drive (ex: C:, D:, E:), select General option from tab menu, and press "disk cleanup" button), 3. turn off and turn on system restore (control panel->system-system restore, then click turn off system restore on all hardisk, wait until disk status is change, and then turn it on again), 4. run disk defragmenter (click windows start menu then click run, type: "dfrg.msc", and press enter), i recomended you to doing this in all hardisk drive that you have, for better result. and the last, restart your computer.

  10. Junil Maharjan
    May 2, 2013 at 6:31 am

    check if the shutdown button is acting as a sleep button. sometimes due to this setting, it takes a long time to wake up.

  11. Jim Chambers
    May 2, 2013 at 1:49 am

    In addition to Bruce's HDD suggestions, check how much free-space is available on boot drive, Should also check CPU temperature and amount of RAM. Check that CPU fan is working and air passages are clear of dust etc.. CPU switches to a very slow speed if it overheats. Maybe a RAM module has lost contact so computer has less than minimum memory required.

  12. Bruce Epper
    May 2, 2013 at 12:56 am

    Boot from a LiveCD (Hiren's Boot CD, pretty much any Linux LiveCD, etc) and check the hard drive for surface errors as well as filesystem errors and repair anything that is found. Next, scan and kill viruses until nothing else is found using at least 2 different scanners (I generally use the Trinity Resource Kit for this). Try booting into Safe Mode and running 'sfc /scannow' to repair any system files that may have been damaged/deleted during the previous steps. After that is done, try booting normally again to see if the issue has been resolved.

    Don't forget to check the system and error logs and deal with any issues that are being shown there as well.

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