Very slow cold boot, but on reboot system runs normal

My office system is a Dell w/ Win7 and it's been running fine up until 1 month ago. Then it started this odd behavior. On a cold boot it runs about 5x to 20x times slower than normal, almost as if it's just running on a single core locked at 5%. Boot time to hit splash screen is 2.5 to 4.5 minutes (normal is 30 secs). And once I hit return on my pwd the system continues to run in super slow motion. If I just force a reboot, select Boot Windows Normally from the trouble menu, the the system boots in 30 secs, logs in fine, and runs normally.

My boss has told me that other Win7 computers he owns/operates are now doing the same thing.

I've no idea what could be causing this. Hearing that other Win7 computers are doing it tends to make me believe it isn't a problem specific to this computer or even this small office network. There are no USB devices other than the mouse and keyboard and we've switched those out. We'd recently installed virus protection software, but we removed that and the problem still continues.

The only other thing I can think of, is that we recently installed a printer driver so the system could print to a Brothers laser printer attached via USB to a computer across the local network. And come to think of it, my system wouldn't even see that printer and allow driver installation until we plugged the printer directly into my system. After installation we moved the printer back, and changed the settings for the system to find the printer across the network. I'll look into uninstalling that driver next time I'm in the office.

Update: New day, new slow boot. This time I forced an early reboot and I got the option to start a Windows Startup Repair. I started that, skipped doing a System Restore and let it run. Finally it came back with all tests fine except the following which crashed: System Files Integrity Check and Repair , Failed , Error Code #0x490 , Time Taken = 541573 ms. So it looks like the test that checks for problems crashed, leaving me to wonder if there might still be some hidden problem. And yet reboots run perfectly normal.

Oh, I've also added a second video screen, but I'm fairly sure the system was showing these problems even before I added the 2nd screen.

Until then, has anyone else ever seen such a problem?

Last edited:
Thanks for the response. But not really applicable in this case. All the things that MS lists as causing a slow bootup would also cause a slow-down on the reboot.

I did find that the Power Saving mode was set to Balanced and this gave it the option to save power by effecting USB and PCIe settings so I turned those off. I'll know in a few days if it helped anything. My next tests will be to check the spin up time on the HDD, run a memory test, and perhaps try a different power supply (basically any hardware that might run diffently on a cold boot.) But with multiple computers possibly suffering from similar problems I still suspect some new problem with the Win7 boot process. Possibly, it might be a driver issue, although I don't think it likely that all the computers in question are running the same drivers. One system is even on a UPS, so I don't believe it to be a problem with stable power from the socket.


Essential Member
I had this problem one of my older notebooks.

After months of research, I was only able to determine it was a lack of heat.
Heat means performance, and when you're starting your computer with a room temperature processor and hard drive, it's going to take significantly longer.

Strange that this only seems to affect some machines.

Welcome to the forums, btw :)

Yup, my best guess its a hardware issue due to cold. On start up most mornings, when the computer has been off over night, the drive spins up with a faint clicking sound. Not sure if it's due to lack of power on power up (perhaps the power supply or cable is lacking when cold), but when I hear the clicking I can immediately power down the system, restart it, and then it will boot and run normally. It's part of my daily routine now and has been for months. Strange, yes? But it's the company's and they currently see no reason to fix a computer that has a simple enough work around.

And you'd think the clicking sound would be a failed drive but it can actually still access data but at a speed that's 20x slower than normal. Perhaps the heads are stuttering in and out of a head parking loop? In any case, problem is solved now - mostly.


Windows Forum Admin
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Yup, my best guess its a hardware issue due to cold. On start up most mornings, when the computer has been off over night, the drive spins up with a faint clicking sound.
If the clicking sound is persistent, this is a sign of hard drive failure. Also, on newer boards, power to the HD is actually being routed through the PCI-E 16 slot where your video card is. If either of these are going faulty, you can get a slow or no post. For instance, on a Gigabyte UD5 with a single HD in ACHI and a AMD/ATI Radeon 6 series HD card, the entire system will not post when no HD is in place.

There will, however, be no error code if you can see on-board error codes - you would still get a FF (Fully Functional). This is because while the system has posted no errors, it can find no hard drive. It is my understanding that some newer chipsets rely on the HD being powered on and functional in order to start.

If the system is powering on slowly (as in minutes), something is seriously wrong with the equipment. For instance, it does not take a CPU a long time to reach 40-60C. It would typically take less than 30 seconds for a modern multi-core processor to reach TJMAXX (the melting point) with no heatsink/fan.

Update: Well, amazingly the drive functioned up until Oct 9, 2012, nearly 2 more years from the time I first reported the issue. Every morning I'd start the computer, then power down before Win7 started to load, and then power up again. The computer would then boot normally to the login screen in < 1 min. In Oct 2012 though, it started taking 2 to 3 minutes to boot and programs that normally started in 5 sec were taking 30+ secs. Gave defragging the HDD a try but it didn't help. Drive was running at about 80% to 90% capacity so upgraded to a 1.5 Tb HDD and now the computer boots the first time every time. So I guess it wasn't an issue with the power supply or the cabling. First time I've ever seen a HDD that wouldn't boot the first time if it was cold and yet wasn't ready completely fail. Occasionally, in the summer time it would boot the first time, but that was very rare. The HDD never had a problem with reboots either, only on the first boot of the day. Never seen anything like it, but perhaps others will find the information helpful.

Hi guys!
I had same problem with both of my PCs. On first cold startup all games were lagging but after restart it was OK.
Then HDD on one computer started to do clicking noise. I used WinAAM to decrease noise in that HDD and after that problem with cold startup has gone. I did the same on my other PC an it worked.
This problem only occured at winter and some colder months and i think it is because of lower hdd temps.
I hope it helped someone.

This website is not affiliated, owned, or endorsed by Microsoft Corporation. It is a member of the Microsoft Partner Program.