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Improve Boot Performance

By: Arie Slob

Microsoft had a small program available for download called BootVis Tool. It is a performance trace visualization tool for use with Windows XP systems.

Both the new and old version of the BootVis Tool seem to have disappeared from the Microsoft server. The last version ( is available for download from our server here [968 KB]. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK! According to Microsoft, this tool was never designed for the end-user.

On 16th July 2003 Microsoft updated the BootVis tool. The current version of BootVis requires Windows XP SP1 or later, and addresses the following known issues:

  • Resolves a compatibility issue when running on Intel Pentium 4 processors with Hyper-Threading Technology enabled.
  • Note: In order to correct a problem with Bootvis tracing on systems with Hyper-Threading Technology, a kernel hot fix is required. Refer to Knowledge Base article Performance Trace Data from the BootVis.exe Tool Is Corrupted or Missing for more details and to obtain the fix.
  • Resolves a compatibility issue when using third-party IDE drivers.

What it does is that it takes the guesswork out of your bootup timing.


As you can see, my boot took 42.47 seconds.

Although in this version a Help file is included with the program, there's not much information given to running the program, so I'll try and explain some things here.

First you'll notice the different items such as Disk, Driver, Prefetching, Registry+Pagefile, Video, Logon+Service and Shell. If you put your cursor over the graphic of an item, it will give you the individual time used:

bootvis reginit

This is what the items relate to:

  • Disk: Tracks the time to enumerate all the devices in the non-pageable device path. This is everything from the CPU to the boot disk drive; multiple IDE devices and slow IDE devices can affect this time. Typical disk time in Windows XP is 2 seconds.
  • Driver: The time it takes to initialize devices.
  • Prefetching: The time spent reading pages in from disk used later as devices initialize, and Winlogon, services, the shell, and other applications start during boot.
  • Registry+Page file: The time spent to read the registry and initialize the page file.
  • Video: Time spent as the display mode is set for the final resolution and refresh rate. Video driver and Video BIOS affect this time.
  • Logon+Services and Shell: The times to start Winlogon, services, the shell, and so on. This is mostly the operating system. However, 3rd party software such as anti-virus and firewall software can effect this time.

You can start a report by selecting Next Boot from the Trace menu, or select Next Boot + Driver Delays, which will show you if there are any drivers delaying your boot (they will be displayed in red). Choose to boot your computer, and patiently wait..... After your machine has rebooted to the desktop, it will still take a while before Bootvis will show its report, so just wait till it shows up on your screen.

If Bootvis reports that drivers are delaying your boot time, visit the manufacturers Web site to obtain the latest drivers.

To optimize your system for a faster boot, choose Optimize System from the Trace menu. Bootvis managed to reduce my boot time by 4.16 sec. Not shocking, but every little bit helps!

You can find a good (but highly technical) description of the Bootvis Tool in this Microsoft White paper: Fast System Startup for PCs Running Windows XP [376 KB file in Microsoft Word format].