Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Sometimes logging into Windows can take a while. There are many reasons why this might happen, and often there are steps you can take to speed it up.

Why is there a long delay after I login to Windows?

You log in, the computer accepts your password, it begins to do whatever it does at login time, and then ... nothing. You sit and wait while the computer appears to be doing nothing at all. After as much as a full minute (which of course feels like much longer) things start happening again and the login completes.

What the heck is it doing?

As usual, "it depends". On many things, actually, but there are definitely several things worth looking at, and some resources to help diagnose.

Even I'm getting tired of saying it, but check for viruses and spyware. Login time is when a number of programs start up and is where many viruses and spyware applications place themselves.

Along those same lines, check what you have running at startup. When you log in many (and I do mean many) programs often start up including background tasks, application helpers, applets that appear in the notification area of the taskbar, and more. And that's not counting the viruses and spyware I just mentioned. These should load quickly, but if they have a problem it can manifest as a delay at login.

Once we're past applications that launch at startup the most common cause of unexpected login delays are issues related to networking.

The delay may be caused by problems attempting to get an IP address. This is especially true if you're logging in right after a reboot. The most common cause is a misconfigured TCP/IP protocol, but this will also manifest if the entity responsible for handing out your IP address is having problems (your NAT router, your ISP, or some other device). If you can, while the delay is happening open up a command prompt and type "ipconfig". If you're connected to a network but your IP address is "0.0.0.0" or if it begins with "169" then this is likely the problem. Somewhat related articles include an Experts Exchange thread on DHCP Delay at Boot Time, a Microsoft Knowledgebase article You Experience a Long Delay When You Log On a Guest PC in an Active Directory Domain, and this article at TweakXP on Slow Domain Login.

The delay may be caused by attempting to reconnect to a network resource that no longer exists. Depending on how the resource was connected to originally Windows may pop up a message box indicating that the it's is unavailable, but not all connections use this mechanism. A good example might be a startup program that attempts to connect to an internet resource that is off-line.

The RPC service - the subject of much discussion as a target of viruses - could be involved as implied by this Knowledgebase article Slow Response Executing Start Menu or Control Panel Applets.

Now, after first suggesting that you make sure to run a virus scan there have also been reports of virus scanning software actually contributing to this problem. Specifically, when the real-time scanning option is enabled some versions of some packages might interfere with the startup process. Make sure your software is up to date and try rebooting with the realtime option off. If that's the issue contact the anti-virus software manufacturer for workarounds.

As you've already discovered investigating this problem can be difficult. Another resource that might help here is the event viewer. I'll discuss it in more detail in a future article, but in the mean time, Start, Run, "eventvwr", and look at the system and application logs for anything that might indicate a problem at login time.

And finally, my previous article Why is my machine slowing down? also includes several steps that can help identify or resolve general speed issues.

Article C1916 - March 31, 2004 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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37 Comments
tolum
April 8, 2004 10:05 AM

thanks for pointing me in the direction of the MS Knowledgebase article. it solved my problem. i have now added your url to my favourites, especially the archive.

regards.

luc
July 12, 2004 10:14 AM

happens also when you have to much stuff on your desktop, which needs to load as well ...

Andy
July 12, 2004 3:45 PM

This is similar to my problem. When I start my xp machines, the nics do not come on right away, and so I get dhcp and wintime errors. How can I make the nic come on first?

Thanks,
andy

mohan
July 13, 2004 3:42 AM

every time windows XP client logon to windows 2003 server it takes 10 to 15 minutes time

Mr. Uknown
August 11, 2004 10:01 AM

This exact same problem happens to my windows, but the matter is, NONE of the things you suggested seem to solve it.

I am pretty sure this does not have to do with networks, since I have dial-up and my windows starts off-line.

Mr. Uknown
August 11, 2004 10:07 AM

Wait.... Sorry for the double post, but I went to eventvwr and found out some errors that happened when I booted the computer.
I can't understand them. Please tell me what they are about (translated from portuguese to english, it is probably not the same message as you get):

"AMLI: the BIOS da ACPI is trying to read an address from an invalid E/S (0x71) port, which is on the interval of the protected address 0x70 - 0x71. This may cause unstability in the system."

Leo
August 14, 2004 5:26 PM

Not really sure. Not much to go on. ACPI is the power-management system - managing things like batteries and autmatic shutdown or suspend. I'll admit I'm grasping at straws as well, but I'd run system file checker, as a start. More info on that here: http://ask-leo.com/archives/000074.html

amit
September 23, 2004 3:34 AM

My windows XP machine takes long to login.I am having Windows 2000 server acting as Domain controller.No group policy has been applied.

Henry
December 7, 2004 4:47 AM

Whatis the problem if you switch on the computer and takes 2 hours and even more to boot or to show light (to mean the cpu is on) but the monitor is on (shows light and gets power from the power suply ).
I will be glad if you replay me soon.

Joe Doherty
December 15, 2004 7:35 AM

Make sure that the first IP listed in your DNS settings is your Domain Controller. This usually causes a difference of about 5-10 minutes of log in time. This is because it looks to the Internet DNS servers first then finds your Domain Controller. Even if you don't have the DNS servers set as static in the first place it will still look at the Internet DNS servers first.

Good luck to all!

Paul Laudenslager
March 25, 2005 9:15 AM

Thanks for your article. I was having a long delay after logging in to get to the desktop. I forgot the obvious to check for network drives that it was trying to map.

After disconnecting the network drives I was able to get to the desktop immediately.

Thank you for taking the time to write the article. I could have spent quite a bit of time working on this one.

Paul L.

Jonathan
April 28, 2005 6:36 AM

I was having the same issue, try this:

Go into your connection properties, and hit the properties button for TCP/IP.

Click the Advanced Button

Add your Default Gateway.

Reboot and try to log in again.

This worked for me. The link from this article said to do the same thing, except to enable net bios over tcp/ip.

You can try both, but I believe adding your default gateway will have the most impact.

Thanks,

Jonathan

JHV
May 13, 2005 6:35 AM

Well, Active directory only works fine, if you have this 2 thinks working properly in your network: DNS and DHCP.

I saw this before, and was the dhcp that wasn t running or dns...

Regards

Dave
June 11, 2005 12:35 AM

I have been installing and configuring networks for about 10 years but one of my workstations has me stumped. The PDC is windows 2003 server and the workstation is Winxp sp2. The workstation has 2 profiles. One profile logs in so fast you barely see the "applying computer settings" and "applying personal settings" banner. The other profile however takes anywhere from 4-6 minutes to get to the desktop. There also is intermitent delays while browsing files in explorer. The long login delay in 95% of all networks is normally due to a problem with DNS resoulution and DNS forwarding when using a DSL/Cable router to handle DHCP. But this not only affects all profiles on a workstation but all profiles on all workstions in the domain. I have disabled DHCP in the router and the server and have gone to static ip, but the problem still occurs. I have double checked my settings for both my DNS server and Wins server and everything checks out. I have even disabled all group policies thinking that there was a GPO issue with the one profile but no such luck. If it were a virus or malware then all profiles would be affected not just one. I have rejoined the domain and reissued the workstations SID but still no luck. Also I forgot to mention that all profiles have identical permissions and security settings. I am truly stumped and am getting to the point where I am ready to burn it down and reinstall fresh, but that is a whole nother headache and a ton of work and would like to avoid this. If anyone can think of anything I may have missed please tell me.

Fred Oppous
June 11, 2005 12:37 AM

I have been installing and configuring networks for about 10 years but one of my workstations has me stumped. The PDC is windows 2003 server and the workstation is Winxp sp2. The workstation has 2 profiles. One profile logs in so fast you barely see the "applying computer settings" and "applying personal settings" banner. The other profile however takes anywhere from 4-6 minutes to get to the desktop. There also is intermitent delays while browsing files in explorer. The long login delay in 95% of all networks is normally due to a problem with DNS resoulution and DNS forwarding when using a DSL/Cable router to handle DHCP. But this not only affects all profiles on a workstation but all profiles on all workstions in the domain. I have disabled DHCP in the router and the server and have gone to static ip, but the problem still occurs. I have double checked my settings for both my DNS server and Wins server and everything checks out. I have even disabled all group policies thinking that there was a GPO issue with the one profile but no such luck. If it were a virus or malware then all profiles would be affected not just one. I have rejoined the domain and reissued the workstations SID but still no luck. Also I forgot to mention that all profiles have identical permissions and security settings. I am truly stumped and am getting to the point where I am ready to burn it down and reinstall fresh, but that is a whole nother headache and a ton of work and would like to avoid this. If anyone can think of anything I may have missed please tell me.

Sohil
June 15, 2005 7:33 AM

Great article!

I have run SFC and it found nothing. Also, ran 3 anti-spyware and 2 anti-virus utilities and found nothing either.

I do, however, get an error message in the System Log "The Server service hung on starting". This (I believe) is the culprit. I am also receiving start error on the Computer Browser Service (because it depends on the Server Service). I also have an error in the Application Log stating that "Windows can not query the list of Group Policy Objects". I am assuming that the Server Service is behind all of this. I do not, however, know how to troubleshoot this. Any help would be greatly apprreciated.

Thanks.

Mark
August 5, 2005 1:10 PM

How can I direct a service to start up when I log into one profile, but not to start up when I log in to another profile? I have a 'docked' and an 'away' profile, and I don't want a bunch of services trying to connect to unavailable servers when I'm away, but I do need them to start when I'm on my company's network.

Ramkaran
September 22, 2005 12:00 AM

When i logon to windows, system work slow for some time after it works ok.....

when i press Crtl+Alt+Del Taskmanager, process i see winlogon.exe cpu usage is more usually it should be 0...

pls. give me suggestion


rks

Carl
September 23, 2005 10:50 AM

I had a long delay and traced it to my back-up software (BounceBack) which was scanning the hard drive at start-up. I couldn't find a way to prevent the scan, so I uninstalled the software...PROBLEM SOLVED!!!

Erik
October 16, 2005 11:03 AM

this is in answer to Mark who wants to know how to selectivly start services, based on which account is used to login.

Caution: Don't do this unless you understand what you are doing and you keep track of how to undo your changes. otherwise your system may not function properly. Review all of these steps carefully, if there is anything that you don't understand then you should not be attmpting to do this.

I am unaware of any built-in method for doing this. I suppose you could use the hardware config manager to create different profiles. but it's not granular enough and you must reboot etc.

However, what you can do is to go to the "Service" manager. Open up a cmd window side by side with the service manager. You will also need to create a batch file using notepad.

One by One; Stop the service and test that the computer works as expected. Now in the cmd window, type "net start (service name)". Verify that the service starts.

If everything is okay then Change the start up mode of that service from "Automatic" to "Manual".

Now in the text/batch file type the same net start command, one per line.

try "help net start" for more info.

=======

When you are done, you will have set all of the services that you don't want, to manual. And you will have a batch file with a bunch of net start commands.

Save the batch file to a good place on your hard disk, my preference is to create a "config" folder and put anything related to my system in there.
Make sure your file has a ".bat" extension. by default notepad gives everything a ".txt"; if you simply type (somename).bat then notepad will save it as "(somename).bat.txt"; not what you want. and if your file extensions are hidden (which is the default) you won't even be able to see this. What you should do is, when you save the file, put the full name in quotes, this will force notepad to not change the extension.

Example: "c:\config\StartServices.bat"

Now put a shortcut to the batch file into the startup menu of the user account that you login with when connecting to your company network.

test test test.... Test your batch file FIRST, with one service, before you go turning off a bunch of other services. And then test it again when you are done, check carefully for typos.

Notes: Some services will refuse to be stopped, this is normal, leave them alone. The service name is not always obvious, that is why you should test it in the cmd window before you add it to your batch file.

The other thing that could bite you, is if the other account does not have the permission needed to start the services.

You can also use this same technique to selectivly stop services that you don't want. You can even make multiple batch files for different configurations.

Keep in mind that when you log out of the account that started the services, they will still be left running.

Alexander Vihtyuk
November 16, 2005 4:09 PM

I think - it is simple questions.
A lot of applications in Windows startup.

We have program to remove idle (_very_ usefull image corrector of printer driver, which loads with Windows and stay in tray).

Visit http://www.absolutestartup.com and download Absolute Startup manager.

P.S.
If you are interesting in free registration - contact me personally ;-)

P.P.S.
Because you have good blog!

Joe
December 14, 2005 8:05 PM

POSSIBLE FIX:
Had same problems as all above, synchronization slow (minutes), logon and off slow too.

CFG: Windows Server 2003 sbs, xp Pro client, ADSL router

FIX:
1. turn OFF the DHCP in the router
2. turn ON the DHCP in W2K3 server
3. Added in Server Options (under server's DHCP console )the IP of the Router as the DNS server: Server options... configure options... general options... 006 DNS... add eg 192.168.0.1 and give arbitrary name, like 'ADSL DNS server' save/ok etc.

Now works fine. Hope my fix works for you!

Joe

Gowri Shankar
April 6, 2006 8:22 AM

Hi ,

Actully my problem is when i login to the domain it was taking too much of time

and also if login as a local account it was very fast


even though i check the Router and Cables and Also Viruses and DNS

every thing is working properly

how can i solve this problem


once i get into the cystem it was logging off

Mathew
April 27, 2006 1:55 AM

I did the trust relationship between NT4.0 Domain and 2003 Domain ,and the problem for "loging slow" solved by adding the DNS in the client Mechine.

Raza
June 29, 2006 5:59 AM

Hi ,

Actully my problem is when i login to the domain it was taking too much of time

and also if login as a local account it was very fast


even though i check the Router and Cables and Also Viruses and DNS

every thing is working properly

how can i solve this problem

Regards,
Raza Ali.

Gan Quan
August 13, 2006 7:52 PM

To Sohil: try this MS kb article
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/319127
I know this is kinda late, anyway....

Anjum parvez
November 9, 2006 1:02 PM

In a related way- My windows boots up, allows me to access the start menu for a very short while, then freezes the start menu and task bar. I can still start applications via icons on my desktop or task manager via cntrl-alt-del. Eventually the system seems to sort it self out.
Task manager during this period shows no processes except system idle 99%.
Can you help?

Anjum
London

Ky Nguyen
May 15, 2007 11:27 PM

Hi,
I had the same problem when i login my computer ( in domain ) with my useraccount but it's still fast for the other useraccount in domain when they try to login my computer. I don't know why.

Rgds,

nilu
September 21, 2008 5:13 PM

hi..when i i log in to my laptop..before any of my settings load,it logs off..wy??/

eva
October 9, 2008 9:39 AM

i tried to reset my password because it has been haked but when i log into account summary page it takes too long toload.i've waited for an hour and it still keeps loading.i don't remember the answer to my secret question so this is the only way i can change my password an secret anwer but it never seems to load.what sall i do?i'm tird of waiting.please help me!!!!!

LawsAngel
March 31, 2009 6:11 AM

Sounds like your acount is maybe on a roaming profile?

Matt Rowand
May 5, 2009 9:53 PM

I was curious, I have a slight issue with some PCs in my windows domain, which when logging onto Windows XP with SP3 are slow to login. Now this is not every user and is on a few PCs. My server is not on the internet nor are the PCs. All IPs are static so DHCP is not an issue. I checked the DC settings and the DNS is correct. I am running on a Windows Server R2 2003 Domain with Service Pack 2. The PCs I tested are running with 512 MB of RAM and generally have a 2.8 Ghz P4. The slow login issue is that sometimes the PCs take up to 10, 15 or even 20 mins to login. I checked for malware and nothing comes up with PANDA on a current av update, I have no software firewall configured so the logons are not blocked by a firewall as these are not on the internet. I checked numerous articles on tbe net on this and am at a loss as all tend to indicate that your DNS IP is wrong or that DCHP is blocked or you have a virus. These from what I see are not it at all. One thing which seems to debug it for a bit is to delete a user profile off of the machine and have that user login. (oh, as a side note I am not using roaming profiles as these are login killers but use folder redirection). so that it my question, why some logons work fine (i.e. fast) on a pc and some others don't work fine (i.e. slow). the only thing I could see here is that it seems to be some sort of corruption in the settings files on the PC as even when you have folder redirection the settings still transfer over to the pc. I tried deleting the folders of the profiles that are slow and it seems at first to speed it up. by the fact it happens in the first place is more my q. dig?

Helen McAlees
March 16, 2010 3:26 AM

when I try to logon my computer no typing shows and after up to 1 hour later, I try again and it excepts my password and then I can logon. This has only happened lately after 18 months trouble free. Very frustration

John Jones
April 4, 2010 10:35 AM

I am having the same issue on one of the network that I managed.

Joerwy
April 30, 2010 9:41 PM

.


Boots slow and runs slow is a common problem for all Windows user. It's not all related with hardware, registry, viruses or spyware!

"No matter how fast or shiny computers might be when they're new, they all seem to get slower over time." Microsoft claimed that on their technical forum(Windows 7 forum).

In fact, Windows built-in a lot of services and startup item start with system. So if you want a faster computer, you need to disable some of them first.


If you don't know how to disable services safety, Click here to fix Windows SLow by Top5 Windows Optimizers now!

.

Shaun
August 8, 2011 10:40 AM

We are having a similar issue with our XP machines on our domain since SP3. What happens is this:

The first time a user logs into a particular machine, the login goes through as is should, then it goes to a blue screen. Not a blue screen of death, but the blue screen as in desktop background color. The cursor still works and can be moved around. It sits like this anywhere from one two five minutes, then logs in to the desktop. It only does this the first time a user logs into that machine, after their local account is created, they log in normally. Obviously the blue screen/cursor is showing while the initial account creation is happening. Is there any way to speed up initial user account creation? Is it mapping drives or something before it goes to desktop? What is going on? This started after SP3.


Shaun

meshkaat
October 8, 2011 6:41 PM

Hi

I have a HP tx1000 notebook with Windows 7 installed.

everything was OK, but after I performed Windows Experience Index to rate my notebook, I got a long delay between login screen and showing desktop with a blank screen for about 20 seconds. the same is happened when i want to log out or restart or shutdown.

what can i do for this. please help me...

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