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Super Long Initial Log-In Time Resolved!

For at least a little while — perhaps a few months — my laptop computer has taken an enormous amount of time to log in after a fresh boot. In other words, after restarting, from the time I hit <Enter> after typing my password to the time I would see my desktop icons was nearly 3 minutes. After this, the computer would behave normally, as if nothing had happened and all was well. This is, of course, ridiculous, but I mostly ignored the problem because I rarely ever rebooted the computer, opting instead for sleeping or hibernating and then resuming, which remained quick.

However, another problem very recently began — I would return to my computer to find an illuminated, but otherwise blank, screen. This seemed to happen when the computer would wake up automatically from sleep to enter hibernation, but only occasionally at that. When this happened, multiple bad things were happening. First, the computer wasn’t turned off, or even sleeping, so it was consuming battery at a high rate. Second, I could not get the screen to display anything or respond in a meaningful manner. The only solution I found was to hard restart the laptop, which is ugly, but more importantly, it made the earlier problem  (the long log-in times) suddenly very important and much more annoying, because I was finding myself rebooting (unhappily) a lot more.

I googled and searched and tested and scratched my head, all to no avail. I tried rebooting with Bootvis, which wasn’t able to provide any useful new information. Basically all I learned was that explorer was taking 94 seconds to load, but not why. Since there was no apprent disk activity or processor activity during this time, a timeout came to mind, but I didn’t know what else to do after spening a few hours trying to figure it out. This is when I mentioned the problem to my dad, who suggested that I look at the event viewer. I had used the event viewer before, but it hadn’t occurred to me to use it to try to fix this problem.

I followed his advice, and that very quickly set me on the right path to solving the long log-in time problem. The event viewer reported one error among many pieces of other information, and the time it happened was around the time I had logged in. The error stated, “The Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) service hung on starting.” Googling that very quickly led me to the right information: disabling the auto-start-up of the WIA service immediately solved the long-log in problem.

It remains to be seen if the blank screen problem was related (unlikely), or if it will go away of its own accord (also unlikely), but solving one piece of the puzzle sure feels good. Thanks dad!