I will be writing this tech post as a quick information reference to a problem I had about a month ago so that I won’t forget how it was fixed.
The problem being the Windows slow spinning dots startup problem I (and many others) have had for a very long time.
It is hard to believe that after so many years of research online, a clear solution was never found on Google, Microsoft support site or anywhere else.
Recently I deciding to optimize my Windows 10 PC and reduce as many issues as possible especially the issue of Windows taking almost 7 to 8 mins to boot up.
This long boot up problem has plagued Windows since 7, Vista and maybe earlier.
To be very specific the issue was about when one would restart or boot up Windows, the Windows logo would appear with spinning dots at the bottom of the screen moving smoothly in a circular loading motion until they began to move very slowly for a few minutes and then start spinning smoothly again.
The whole boot loading up process up to where you can finally reach the Windows login screen would take about 7 or 8 minutes.
There was a time when a new installed Windows would boot up in less than a minute but somehow this would not last.
Trying everything I could by extensively reading information online across so many websites for almost 2 decades failed to find any real solution.
On my last effort to find a fix I made a big mistake by setting my Windows boot startup mode to diagnostic startup which left my system indefinitely in a constant diagnostic boot up mode.
This meant that no matter how long it takes, one must leave Windows run in diagnostic mode until it finishes which depending on your PC setup, could last from hours, days or weeks.
3 days stuck in this startup mode I couldn’t wait and longer and hard rebooting the computer would only make it start over again.
Nothing I did would revert or change the startup mode.
Trying booting up in safe mode, use a repair and recovery disk, usb or disk windows boot up and tools. Nothing.
I have had enough and used a SSD hard drive from my PS4 and will install a new Windows 10 internal HDD while removing most of my data drives from my case.
Before installing a new copy of Windows by using a Windows 10 installation usb drive I had previously created, I tweaked a few things in the ASrock bios and enabled non native AHCI drivers.
There is another problem somewhere.
Trying to install Windows 10 on a hard drive that is in mode MBR or GPT disk had some weird up and downs.
I could not install the primary operating system (Windows) on a GPT disk, then after some bios changes and converting the HDD to MBR, I couldn’t install a primary OS on a MBR disk.
I’m going crazy here.
Enabling non native AHCI drivers support in the bios I finally was able to install Windows on a new hard drive but only with more weird things going on.
Windows would boot up but before the ASrock logo appear, a text AHCI driver list would show trying to seek which sata drive had a viable disk with an OS to boot up.
Regardless, I left it that way and continued searching online until I stumbled upon something about the boot order of drives.
I think I know what the whole slow and weird boot up problems is.
There is a a boot order that happens when you boot up an OS, in my case Windows and ASrock motherboard.
You have sata drives starting from the first which is drive 0 (zero) then so on but not all.
First drive is “0” which is drive 1, then the second drive is drive “1” which is the second in boot order.
My motherboard has 8 sata connectors which 4 are native AHCI and the other 4 are non native drives that work but should be read for data and not used a primary OS boot option.
I restart and go into bios boot from drive mode and see my primary Windows drive is not the first drive (drive 0) in boot order.
I’m thinking, does boot order even matter when I am selecting which drive to boot from?
On the bios drives boot list I notice drive 0 is a data drive I’m using.
I think I know what is going on now.
I disabled non native AHCI booting and fastboot options in the bios.
Note: this does not disable AHCI, it removes the ability to boot from non native sata connected drives.
Reconnected my internal hard drive with new Windows installed to sata drive “0” which uses native AHCI.
Now Windows boots up in seconds!
What the heck was going on?
My set up is 7 internal hard drives and a disk blu ray read drive with just one Windows hard drive.
I learned that if you have your main OS not first in the list of boot up drive (drive 0) then either the bios or Windows will scan ever drive for a bootable OS starting from the first drive in the list.
Great, that was the problem!
The computer was scanning through the list of drives before it booted from the one it should have only regardless if specified which drive to boot up from.
I figure Windows or the bios normally scans through it’s drives in case there may be problems booting up from the main OS.
So what causes slow boot up?
Over time, your other internal hard drives may start to adopt into the primary OS as another place to install programs, games, apps and software so as it looks more like it might have a bootable OS in it and them being above in the boot order of your primary OS, they will be scanned first in boot order.
So the solution is to find which sata connection is the first drive 0 in the boot order list, then manually reconnect your Windows or primary OS hard drive to the proper first sata native connecting which would be drive 0.
This was a quick write up and might clean it up later with some photos.
Also, super important to never ever configure your Windows to startup in diagnostic mode.
There is so much I have left out here or this post could have been as long as a book. One very Important thing to know about the hard drive list order.
Windows disk management utility displays the hard drives list order differently than the bios OS boot up hard drive list.
This is why I couldn’t resolve this slow boot up issue for so long.
Disk management hard drive (or drives) list order would be:
Disk 0: Local Drive (Windows 10)
Disk 1: My_Stuff
Disk 2: BlueMoon
Bios hard drives list:
Disk 0: BlueMoon
Disk 1: My_Stuff
Disk 2: Local Drive (Windows 10)
The Windows hard drive list order from 0 to 4 or 8 is different from the list order in the bios.
It appears that in Windows disk management hard drive list that order of the list doesn’t matter. It will run the OS from any viable hard drive in the list.
So the bios hard drive list is what makes things run more efficiently, smoother and quicker.
Make sure your primary OS (Windows) is the native sata connected disk 0 listed in the bios hard drive list.
That way it will first scan the hard drive with the OS to boot up that is naturally disk 0.