SBSL: Slow Boot, Slow Logon

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While I’m out at customers as a PFE, Premier Field Engineer, there are often discussions about startup and logon performance. Years ago I can remember it took 15-20 minutes to startup a computer at enterprises. In the morning it was enough time to power on the computer, hang the jacket, grab the coffee mug, walk to the coffee machine, chat with some colleges, crawl back to the computer and just enough to see the screen switches to CTRL+ALT+DEL – ok time to write username and password, press enter, and now it was time to chat with the colleges next door, maybe make some phone calls and wait some more.…

We have passed these days, users are no longer satisfied with slow starting computers, the computer should make a cold boot somewhere about 60-120 seconds with standard computer and rotating hard disk today. And this should not be a problem, if you just know how to troubleshoot it!

This is just a brief guide how to make you first trace, no explanations of the tools included or how to dig in the traces

The number 1 tool to troubleshoot SBSL is xPerf in WPT (Windows Performance Toolkit), this can be found in Windows SDK.

Ready to install? Just run the web installation, select Windows Performance Toolkit and in a moment you got it.

Time to make your first trace?

First, save your work and close all open applications, fire up a command prompt and

Create a folder

mkdir c:\xperf

Make this folder the current folder

cd c:\xperf

Run the trace, this will save the trace in the current folder

xBootMgr.exe –Trace Boot –TraceFlags DiagEasy –PostBootDelay 120

The computer will reboot and start the trace, make sure you logon rather quick all seconds will count.

When you logon you will face a counter, wait until this is done – do not press finish, if you have UAC enabled you will get a UAC prompt, press yes and the trace will stop and merge the user and kernel trace into one. When done, open explorer and locate the folder you created c:\xPerf, it should look something like:


You can double click to open or open the xPerfView.exe in the WPT installation folder and locate the trace.

I will not go thru the tool at this moment, but here is graphs for CPU, disk, interrupts, ReadyBoot, process lifetimes, services, boot phases.

I usually drill down Boot Phases


in this graph you can easy see how long it took for the different phases, and the computer is ready for the user at about 103 seconds. These transition phases is explained in a link further down.

Next graph to have a look at could be


To get an idea where the problem could be, in this case GPClient take almost 30 seconds, which tells us the computer GPO’s is processing for a long time and should be investigated further.

If you need any help with your troubleshooting, just contact me.


Other tools that helped me troubleshoot startups and logons are Sysinternals tools:

  • Process Explorer: procexp.exe
  • Process Monitor: procmon.exe
  • Autoruns: autoruns.exe

    Sysinternals tools

    Microsoft Windows SDK for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 4

    Windows On/Off Transition Performance Analysis

    Blogs in the SBSL subject

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