How to troubleshoot performance issues during startup in Windows Vista

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INTRODUCTION

The steps to troubleshoot performance-related issues in Windows Vista vary depending on the point at which the issue occurs. This article is intended to describe the steps that are used to troubleshoot performance-related issues that occur during startup.

For more information about how to troubleshoot other performance issues in Windows Vista, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
950685 How to troubleshoot performance issues in Windows Vista
950686 How to troubleshoot performance issues with standby, hibernate, and resume in Windows Vista

Overview

This article describes the steps that are used to start to troubleshoot startup-related performance issues in Windows Vista.

Performance issues that you may encounter during the startup process of Windows Vista may include but are not limited to the following issues:
  • The computer may take a long time to start.
  • The computer appears to freeze or to stop responding during the startup process.
  • Startup sounds and video may appear choppy.
  • You may receive errors during the startup process.
  • Applications do not load during startup.
  • The computer may be unable to start in normal mode.
  • You may encounter random blue screens or black screens during the startup process.
Note Before you start to troubleshoot any performance-related issue, it is important first to set correct expectations. If you installed Windows Vista on a computer that only meets the minimum hardware requirements, but the computer does not meet the recommended hardware requirements, you may be unable to make a noticeable improvement to the performance of Windows Vista unless you upgrade the hardware on the computer, or you disable some features of Windows Vista. These features might include the search indexer or some visual effects.

Computers that meet the minimum requirements are known as "Windows Vista Capable," and computers that meet the recommended requirements are known as "Windows Vista Premium Ready." For more information about Windows Vista Capable and Windows Vista Premium Ready computers, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc507845.aspx
For more information about system requirements for Windows Vista, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
919183 System requirements for Windows Vista

MORE INFORMATION

To start troubleshooting a startup-related performance issue in Windows Vista, follow these steps

Step 1: Check the Windows Experience Index

Windows Vista includes a performance rating tool that is named WinSAT. This tool measures the performance of a computer, and the tool gives information about the performance in a way that is easy for the end-user to understand. The performance information about the computer is known as the "Windows Experience Index." You can use the information in this Index to determine what the expected performance levels are for the computer. The information in this Index is based on the rating of each component. When you review the performance rating for the computer, you see an overall score and a sub-score for individual components in the computer. The overall score is determined by the lowest sub-score on the system. Therefore, if the lowest sub-score for a component in the computer is 2.6, the overall score for the system will also be 2.6. This is because the component with the lowest performance in the computer is considered the bottleneck.

When you review this score, you can use this information to determine whether there is a component in the system that may be causing the startup performance issue. When you determine the Windows Experience Index for your computer, you can use this information to correctly set expectations about the level of performance that you can expect to achieve with the current configuration. After you set the expectations, it is important to continue to troubleshoot the issue by proceeding with the next troubleshooting step. This is because, although the computer may have slower hardware, the computer may also have other issues with software configurations that can further decrease performance.

For guidance about how to make recommendations about computer performance that is based on the Windows Experience Index, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Windows/en-US/Help/f59082f4-6385-4a61-ba7e-2de9625a780a1033.mspx
Note If the computer has an overall system score of 1.0 because the video sub-score was 1.0, this overall score may not be an accurate representation of the computer's performance. In order to test the performance of the video card in the computer, Windows Vista Display Driver Model (WDDM) drivers must be installed for the video card. If the drivers for the video card are not WDDM drivers, the sub-score will automatically be recorded as 1.0 because the card cannot be tested for performance.

When you have identified performance expectations by using the Windows Experience Index, go to the next troubleshooting step.

Step 2: Check Windows Update

If a driver or an operating system component causes the performance issue, there may be an update that is available on Windows Update that addresses the issue. Visit Windows Update, and install any driver or operating system updates that are available. To do this, visit the following Windows Update Web site
http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com
If you install an updated driver or operating system components from Windows Update, and this does not resolve the performance issue, go to the next troubleshooting step.

Step 3: Check for performance warnings

Frequently, Windows Vista can automatically detect any issues that are related to performance and can make recommendations about how to troubleshoot these problems. When this happens, a warning is displayed in Control Panel. To access these warnings, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start
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    Start button
    , right-click Computer and then click Properties.
  2. Click Windows Experience Index.
  3. Click Advanced Tools.
  4. In the Advanced Tools window, click the performance-related links to examine detailed information about the computer.
After you click the links in the Advanced Tools window, follow the recommendations that appear. When you have resolved all the issues that appear in this list, restart the computer to see whether the startup performance issue is resolved. If the problem continues to occur, go to the next troubleshooting step.

Step 4: Start the computer in safe mode

When you start the computer in safe made, you can determine whether the cause of the startup-related performance issue is related to a background service or to a driver.

To start in safe mode, follow these steps:
  1. Remove all floppy disks, CDs, and DVDs from your computer, and then restart your computer.
  2. Click Start
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    Start button
    , click the arrow next to the Lock button, and then click Restart.
  3. Press and hold the F8 key as your computer restarts.

    Note You have to press F8 before the Windows logo appears. If the Windows logo appears, you must try to restart your computer. To do this, wait until the Windows logon prompt appears, and then shut down and restart your computer.
  4. On the Advanced Boot Options screen, use the arrow keys to select the Safe Mode option, and then press ENTER.
  5. Log on to your computer by using a user account that has administrator rights.
If the problem continues after you start the computer in safe mode, the problem may occur for one or more of the following reasons:
  • There is a problem with underpowered or faulty hardware.
  • There is a problem with a driver that is installed.
  • There is a problem with an operating system component.
If you can verify that the problem continues to occur when you start the computer in safe mode, go to step 5.

If the problem does not occur when you start the computer in safe mode, go to step 5.

Step 5: Perform clean-boot troubleshooting

If you verify that the performance issue does not occur in safe mode, start Windows Vista in a clean-boot environment to determine the programs or the services that are causing the issue. This process will systematically eliminate any of the third-party services or applications that are running on Windows Vista that could potentially be the cause of the problem.

For more information about how to perform clean-boot troubleshooting in Windows Vista, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
929135 How to troubleshoot a problem by performing a clean boot in Windows Vista
If the performance problem continues after you perform clean-boot troubleshooting, go to the next troubleshooting step.

Step 6: Check the Reliability Monitor

When you troubleshoot a performance issue, it is important to determine whether the problem always occurred after you installed Windows Vista or if the problem began sometime after you installed Windows Vista. You must clarify this before you continue.

If Windows Vista was performing acceptably after it was installed, and the startup performance problem only began to occur sometime after Windows Vista was performing acceptably, you can use the Reliability Monitor tool that is included with Windows Vista. This tool lets you examine the events that occurred around the time that the problem began so that you can determine any relationship between the event and the issue. To do this, you must first determine approximately when the issue began to occur. When you determine the approximate time, you can examine the events that occurred around that
time.
  1. Click Start
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    Start button
    , type reliability in the Start Search box, and then press Enter.
  2. Click Reliability and Performance Monitor in the Programs list.
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    User Account Control permission
    If you are prompted for an administrator password or for confirmation, type the password, or provide confirmation.
  3. Click Reliability Monitor.
In the line graph that appears, you will see a representation of the reliability of the computer. Each vertical bar represents a day, and the height of the line for that day is determined by the events that occurred on that day. If any errors or warnings occur, the line will go down. If no events or only informational events occur then the line will start to go up.

To use this tool to troubleshoot a performance issue that began sometime after Windows Vista was installed, follow these steps:
  1. After you identify the approximate day that the problem began, select that day in the Reliability Monitor tool.
  2. Read the Information, Warning, and Error events that occurred on the day that the problem began and on the two days before the problem began.
  3. At this point, you must use the data that you have collected to start to troubleshoot why the problem may have occurred. Some possible examples of how to troubleshoot this problem are listed here. In the following examples, the most likely result is that you have to contact either the software or hardware vendor for more troubleshooting advice:
    • If you see that the problem started the day that a driver update was installed, you have to determine whether there is a newer driver than the currently installed driver. Then, you have to install the newer driver to see whether that driver resolves the problem. If no driver update is available, use Device Manager to roll back the driver that was installed.
    • If you see that the problem started after the installation of a new piece of hardware, disable or unplug that hardware, and then test to see whether the problem still occurs.
    • If you see that the problem started after you install a new program, check for any updates for that program on the software vendor’s Web site. If no updates are available, uninstall the program to test whether the problem continues to occur.
If the problem still occurs after you address any of the changes that you identified in the Reliability Monitor, you must contact the computer manufacturer or the hardware vendor to determine whether the computer or the hardware that is installed supports Windows Vista, or if there are any updates that must be installed to make the computer compatible.

Properties

Article ID: 950684 - Last Review: April 18, 2008 - Revision: 1.3
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