Windows won't even begin to load for 5 minutes

Whenever I boot my computer (Dell Dimension 8300, 8 years old, with Windows XP Professional, SP3), I get the Dell splash screen, indicating that the BIOS is loading, etc.

Then it turns into a black screen, with a cursor line blinking in the upper left corner. It does not even appear that Windows is trying or starting to load.

After about 5 minutes of this, Windows finally begins to load, loads in a reasonable amount of time, and then works perfectly normally and at normal speeds, until the next time it is re-booted.

I have had the motherboard tested, showing normal. I have replaced the hard drive with a new faster larger one, with no change (I did NOT reload Windows, just restored everything to my drive using an Image Restore).

It was working fine until a couple of months ago, then starting acting as described above.

I can live with the time to load Windows, etc., but am concerned that this could be a symptom of something about to fully die, and would rather know about it ahead of time, in case I have to make some repairs/replacements while I still can while it is still functional.

Any ideas of what could be causing this would be appreciated.



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Clarification Request
Tell us more about the setup.

I don't pretend to know about hardware issues so wild guesses suggest that, if it passes POST, and if, once the system is up and running there are no other issues like halting, shutting down, Blue Screens, and so on, the motherboard is OK and there are no blown or bulging capacitors. Google BAD CAPS for more on that.

I will let others discuss the hardware issues though.

So, tell us more about this setup. Any USB devices connected? Is the computer connected to any Home Network?

If there are any USB devices connected, disconnect them before booting up. If the computer is on a home network, eg other computers, or a wireless printer, make sure they are all on. I have seen recently here where a wireless printer with a recent driver update had slowed boot up to a crawl. Also, if this computer has any "Mapped drives" from others on a network, and that mapped drive is inaccessible, that might be a cause of the slow boot.

If you had not said that this also happens with a different drive with a cloned OS, I would have mentioned the DMA/PIO Switch Flip.

Although the article is about CD/DVD drives, it also happens to hard drives and although the system reports it is in DMA Mode, often a 'flip' from DMA to PIO then back again will solve slow performing hard drives.

But like I said, this doesn't seem to be the case here since the same problem happens on your other drive. But I wonder. Since this is an OS setting, could the setting have been exported when you cloned the drive?

These are all bad guesses, so lets also see what others here say.


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Windows won't even begin to load for 5 minutes - More Info

Thanks for your thoughts.

Here are my responses...

This computer IS on a simple home network, but all devices are all on, and all seems to be working normally. There are NO mapped drives.

The only attached USB device is a 4 port USB hub which I have had for over a year and seems to be working normally, and one printer. Which is interesting now that you mentioned it, in that it is relatively new. I don't remember if this problem began around the time of the new printer, but it was in the general time least with in a month or so. And I DID install the drivers and software that came on the CD that came with the new printer. It is a Cannon Pixma MG8120 printer.

Could the printer drivers/software keep Windows from even starting to load? It is not like Windows begins to load then takes a long time, it doesn't even appear that it has begun to least from what is displayed (or not displayed) on the screen.

I don't even get to the point where I can try to start in Safe Mode, as even when I hit the F8 key to bring up Safe Mode option, it still takes over 5 minutes before giving me the option to start in Safe Mode or Normal mode. So from what I can see, it appears that something is causing the delay before Windows begins to load.

Thanks to all who care to comment of have any ideas.


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Did you try unplugging that USB from the PC?

Seems a simple test. Writing "it worked before" is nice to know but let's test it.

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Did you try unplugging that USB from the PC? - Yes, IT WORKS

I tried upplugging the USB hub, and it re-booted fast and cleanly.

I then plugged the hub into a different USB port, and again, it re-booted fast and cleanly.

I then plugged it back into the original port, and it re-booted fast and cleanly.

So who knows. Loose cable? Meteors? etc.

Anyhow it all seems to be working fine now. Thanks to all for the suggestions and advice!


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(NT) That's great, glad you got it sorted.
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Final end of story

I plugged my new Cannon Pixma printer (USB)back into my computer, and the problem re-appeared. I called Cannon, and got the following info...

The computer sees the printer as a "Exteral Drive" (I have seen it assigned a drive letter in Windows explorer, but didn't think that this could be the problem). When the comptuer boots, it is trying to boot from the Cannon Printer. Of course, there is nothing on the printer to boot, so after trying for 5 or so minutes, it gives up and then goes back to the C: drive and finished the normal boot process.

Per Cannon, the only way to resolve this is to work with the computer manufacturer (Dell in my case), and figure out how to "Disable Legacy USB" support. But when I Googled this, it sounded like that could cause other problems. So for now, I'll just let it go, realize it will take little longer to boot, and feel comfortable in the knowledge that this is not a symptom that my compter is about to die.

End of issue.

thanks all,


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Disable Legacy USB Support Is Done In The BIOS

Restart the computer and immediately press the appropriate F-key to access the BIOS.. Once there, browse the BIOS for an item called "Legacy Support", then disable/turn it off. then save your changes - reboot. After rebooting into windows, plug in your USB device, then with it plugged in, reboot - it should work fine.This is a fix for many usb devices especially printers which contain on-board computers.

Hope this helps.


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I disabled Legacy USB Support, and it seems to be working

I found the Legacy Support option in the BIOS setup. I changed the USB Emumation to "NO BOOT", and when I rebooted after plugging in the Printer, it booted just fine, no delays or problems.

Thanks for your help Grif. (and everyone else who contributed)


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Good work

and an interesting solution from Grif. Glad it worked for you, and hope we never see you again! Devil


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