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Use Verbose Boot Messages to Troubleshoot Windows Startup Problems

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If you’ve ever had problems with your PC starting up or shutting down slowly, there’s lots of different troubleshooting techniques that you can use—today we’ll talk about how to enable verbose messages.

Enabling these verbose messages is not going to magically solve your problems, of course—the point is to use this to identify a problem, which you can then solve through other means, generally by uninstalling a problem application or upgrading a faulty driver.

Enable Verbose Boot Logging for Drivers and Such

Open up msconfig.exe through the Start Menu search or run box, and then head over to the Boot tab. You’ll want to use one of these two settings:

  • Boot log: Use this setting to create a text log of all the drivers that are loaded during startup.
  • OS boot information: Use this setting to display the drivers on the screen while booting (note that this seems to slow startup a bit)

Once you’ve chosen your settings, click OK and reboot to see the change.

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If you chose to enable the Boot log, you can just paste the following into your Run box to open up the file:

notepad %SystemRoot%\ntbtlog.txt

You’ll see something like this, which shows all the drivers that loaded, and even the ones that didn’t load.

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If you chose the “OS boot information” option, you’ll actually see each driver as it loads. This can be helpful to see what is taking a long time to load.

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Note: this option does seem to make booting take longer. You should probably disable the option once you are done.

Enable Verbose Service Startup/Shutdown Messages

Windows loads up the drivers first during the black screen portion of the boot process, but then once you are looking at the regular login wallpaper screen, it is loading up services in the background. To troubleshoot this part of the process, you’ll have to flip a registry switch.

Open up regedit.exe and head to the following key, creating it if the key path isn’t there:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\
Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

Once you are there, create a new 32-bit DWORD on the right-hand side named VerboseStatus, giving it a value of 1.

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Now when you start up or shut down, you’ll see more verbose messages telling you what is taking so long.

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Of course, on a normal PC these messages will fly by so fast that you won’t see anything.

An Even Better Solution: Use Soluto

If you really want to troubleshoot your system startup problems, you should check out Soluto, which can actually analyze your entire boot process and tell you where all the problems are—even helping you disable things that are taking too much time.

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You can download Soluto at their web site, or if you want some more information about how it works, check out my write-up over at Lifehacker.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/19/10

Comments (11)

  1. Hatryst

    I remember verbose mode from the Hackint0sh OSx86 project. It is used there to disable extra RAM and other stuff… Nice to know that windows also has a similar feature ;)

  2. Enes

    Soluto is an awsome piece of software, I’m using it for a couple months.
    The only problem is, that sometimes it uses lot of memory. like 40% CPU and 150.000 Kb.
    But oké it is still a Bèta, so I always close it after my pc started.

  3. KB Prez

    Tried Soluto for the first time today. I’m with Enes – it’s AWESOME. I was able to save almost 2 mins off my boot time and I’m looking for more! THANKS Geeks!

  4. Marfa

    Wel,, Soluto:
    1. Disabled ATIH 2011 Startup Recovery Manager
    2. Hangs my PC when I click open
    3. Its proccess can’t be terminated…..

  5. Roee

    Marfa: that sounds strange, I’m not familiar with this problem. Any chance you would shoot us an email at support@soluto.com so we can figure this one out? Thanks.

  6. Marble

    Thanks for this guide !

  7. Di

    noobz here is the .reg files u need: http://www.mediafire.com/?4b5jxstt8y9l9jt xD

  8. Manish

    Thanks for this guide.

  9. `gene

    Hmm someone *cough* tried turn this on but named the key vebodeStatus it doesn’t work then.

  10. Sameer

    works perfectly fine on the Windows XP box… However trying to find a version for Windows Servers ? Is there any ? Or anything like Soluto for Windows Servers ?

  11. Corgano

    what’s that gold chrome icon? Is it a special build, or just a fancy icon?

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