Windows 8 : Troubleshooting Startup Problems - Computer Takes Too Long to Start (part 1) - Advanced startup

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On most systems, Windows 8 is optimized to decrease boot time from many seconds (or minutes) to just a handful of seconds. For example, a laptop might take approximately 35 seconds to boot to Windows 7. With Windows 8, the boot time is only eight seconds. You may or may not see that large of a decrease in wait time, but you should pay attention if the boot time takes longer and longer each time you start your computer.

Many things that prevent a computer from starting have nothing to do with Windows 8. It often takes even seasoned pros many hours to diagnose and repair startup problems. But before you resort to the repair shop, here are some other things you can try.

Restore system files to an earlier time

If you can get the computer to start in Safe Mode, try restoring your files to an earlier time. In Safe Mode, click the Start button, type Restore, and then click System Restore on the Start menu. Follow the onscreen instructions to restore system files from a date prior to when the problem began. Choose the most recent date. For example, if the problem started today, restore files from yesterday or the day before.

Windows 8 Automatic Repair Mode

If you press F8 during boot up, or if Windows 8 automatically detects an issue with your startup, you see a light blue window (not the Blue Screen of Death) that says “Automatic Repair.” This is Windows 8’s Automatic Repair Mode.

System Restore turns back the clock to a previous setup when Windows was working correctly. During the System Restore process, you do not lose any personal data that you added to the system. Instead, programs and apps that were installed after the latest System Restore point and time are uninstalled from your computer. The assumption is that a program or app may have damaged your computer to the point that it will not boot. By removing the programs and apps, Windows may be able to start properly.

If you decide to choose to restore, the process cannot be undone. You have the option of canceling, but you must do it from this initial screen; don’t try to cancel after you start the restore process. If you decide to cancel, click the Cancel button now.

To continue, click the Restore button and work through the onscreen prompts.

Repair Windows 8 Install

If you have the DVD with Windows 8 on it, you can boot from that disc and do a repair installation. Put that disc in the DVD drive and start the computer. Watch the screen for the message “Press Any Key To Boot From CD Or DVD” (or a similar message); then, press Enter or the Spacebar.

If the option to boot from the CD or DVD never appears, and the computer won’t boot from that disc, you need to change your BIOS options to boot from the CD/DVD drive. How you do that varies from one computer to the next. Typically, you start the computer and then immediately start pressing the F1, F2, or Del key (perhaps all three, if you don’t know which is required) repeatedly as the computer is starting. This should take you to the BIOS Setup options where you can configure the computer to try booting from the CD/DVD before it tries booting from the hard drive. Close and save the new settings. The computer will restart, and this time you should be able to boot from the Windows DVD.

If you’re able to boot from the DVD, the first screen you see will likely ask about your language and locale. Make any necessary changes and click Next. On the next page, click Repair Your Computer (not the Install Now option). Then just follow the onscreen instructions to do a repair install of Windows 8.

Advanced startup

If you can boot into Windows 8, but are having issues with the boot process, consider using Windows 8’s Advanced Startup tool. This tool does assume you can boot into Windows and navigate to the PC Settings area.

To use this tool, perform the following steps:

1. Display the Charms Bar and choose Settings.
2. Click Change PC Settings.
3. Click the General item.
4. Scroll to the last item on the page, as shown in Figure 1.

FIGURE 1 Advanced startup option in the General PC Settings

5. Click the Restart Now button. Windows displays a screen similar to the one in Figure 2.

FIGURE 2 Troubleshoot startup problems

6. Click Troubleshoot.
7. Click one of three options and work through the onscreen prompts:
  • Refresh Your PC: Use this option to refresh your copy of Windows but not to destroy any of your files. This is a good option as you do not lose your file and you get a “fresh” version of Windows.
  • Reset Your PC: Use this option to completely remove all files (including files you have created) and to reinstall Windows 8. This will destroy all files you have created or saved to the computer. You should not use this option until you have made a backup of your critical files and you should use it only as a last resort — when all other troubleshooting tasks fail.
  • Advanced Options: Provides several additional tools for fixing startup problems, as shown in Figure 3.

FIGURE 3 Advanced options for troubleshooting startup problems

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