The David Solomon TechNet Spotlight Talks are online once again!

As some would say…Mission Accomplished.  It’s a long story, but I use these videos, particular part of the part 3, in my class to teach how Windows talks to physical RAM.  The students just about universally dig it and now they are rescued from the Akamai cache and posted once again….

As the Bristomatique would say, “Share and Enjoy”

Troubleshooting slow boot times, Part Deux

In my last session, I covered a rudimentary usage of XPERF to analyze my slow booting Dell with a SSD in it.  The fix was simple and the problem stood out like a sore thumb.  Resolution was as simple as setting the Ambient Light Service from Dell into an Automatic (delays start) state.

But what about situations where things aren’t so simple?  What about slow booting machines in the enterprise?  Or even in the small business?  Where third party apps and malware and mis-configured anti-virus products take their toll on an otherwise stellar piece of hardware?

We have some free tools available to us to help troubleshoot slow logon times.

First, we have UserEnv logging.  This is alive and well in Windows 7 by the way, the KB just doesn’t reflect that fact.  I’d go over this in-depth, but why re-invent the wheel when it’s already buried in TechNet?  So go here and check it out, a wealth of information is at your fingertips to troubleshoot UserEnv logs.

Going hand in hand with this is GPLogView, a good tutorial can be found here on it.

Of course we have Xperf, though there is a learning curve associated with learning it.

The effects of Acoustic Management on rotational media disks.

So one of the trends I’ve been seeing in WDRAPs I’ve performed is that companies are making use of older hardware for newer tasks on a much more frequent basis than before.  Budgets seem to mandate a 4-5 year (or longer) pc recycle timeframe and the net result of this is companies are running their new image of Windows 7 on hardware that in some cases is over 7 years old (personal experience talking here, no statistics to back it up sorry, though that might be interesting).

So when I go into a company to do a WDRAP I am often evaluating the security and performance of an older chassis.  Something I’m frequently running into is that some models of desktop have Automatic Acoustic Management (AAM) enabled by default to a value of 128 (quiet).  Sometimes, the BIOS is actually set to ‘Bypass’ which at first blush might make the user or administrator think the BIOS has this feature disabled.  Incorrect in my experience!  Bypass actually seems to let the disk decide, so if the manufacturer of a disk set the disk to prefer quiet mode, Bypass will let the disk run at a slower rotational speed to keep the head quiet.

This increases the seek time noticeably, as well as overall transfer time.  (You can go over more blocks in a minute if you are spinning at 7200 RPMs than if you are spinning at say, 5400 RPM, same goes here for AAM).

Setting the BIOS to Performance (forcing the drive to run at the 254 level of performance instead of 128/quiet) has caused some boot times of older XP images to speed up by over 100 seconds in the field.

So really, check out this setting.  You might also note that some hardware vendors in later/modern disables this setting and sells it as a performance gain, rightfully so.  Most drives are fairly quiet these days anyway, so much so that most models of hardware I’ve changed this on the end user doesn’t notice the difference in noise levels, only performance.

Of course your mileage will vary by model of drive, motherboard, and BIOS.

Additional links that you might find interesting on the topic are listed here.