Q

Undocked laptop takes forever to boot

A reader writes looking for help regarding a laptop that works fine when it's docked. But when it's undocked, it takes forever to boot and occasionally hangs with a blue screen.

I have a WinXP SP2 laptop (Dell D800) that's giving me fits when undocked, usually when booting up and sometimes at shutdown. When docked, with network attached, it boots quickly. When undocked, it takes forever to boot and occasionally hangs with a blue screen. I've gone through msconfig, and finally disabled all non-Microsoft services. That seemed to resolve the issue, but I can't leave it that way. Do you know of any tools that would help isolate specific service(s) causing these issues?
Whenever I hear about slow boot operations and the network somehow figures into the equation, what leaps to mind is a DNS issue. Sometimes the slow bootup is an attempt by the system to resolve DNS, which fails completely. (However, it's not clear from the reader's description here if the machine has a network controller apart from the dock.)

If you're getting a BSOD (blue screen of death), that implies a much more serious problem that may lie with the network driver on the laptop. It would be helpful to know what the BSOD error is. BSODs are so rare these days that when they do happen it indicates a severe issue. See if there is an update available for the network driver (and maybe for any other drivers as well). That may resolve your problem.

This was first published in December 2006
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