Windows Media Player slow start: one half-assed solution

see update at end of blog

there is a problem with windows media player 12 and windows 7.  when investigating answers, found quite a few listings with the same problem.  windows media player taking forever to launch a song or movie, with it so maxed out that if you try to move it or switch the screen size – the player “goes white” and you get the “not responding” answer from windows.

now, i got a clue to this behavior, when it ALWAYS happened under a user profile, but playing the same files on the same machine worked fine under the administrators file.  so what we are looking at is a problem evolving from the security permissions.

often, permissions designated for an HDD are different than you might have for local files on the C: drive.  myself, will change HDD’s to tighter security, if the default settings aren’t adequate.  but WHY does windows media player have a problem with this?

it has to be because Windows Media Player is writing to the files.  that’s the only answer … even though i have EVERY privacy setting unchecked and designated as NO global ratings for the files played … WMP is still trying to write SOMETHING to EVERY file played.  when it CAN”T write to the file, due to the security giving it no access to write (under your user local settings) — then it sits there and keeps trying to write to your media file, getting refused.  and upon the 100th try to write to your file, it finally gives up and starts playing it.

so what is the answer to Windows Media player starting so slowly?  i solved it by resetting the security on my HDD, to give full permissions to ME, under my user name.  if you are working under an admin account, giving full permissions to any admin account doesn’t seem to do it.  neither does setting it for open access to all users.  appears that you have to have security set to allow full access under your specific user name.

the instructions are tedious to go over, but basically — right click>>>>>properties>>>>security>>>>>>edit>>>>>add>>>>>advanced>>>>>>find now ——select your user name>>>>>>OK>>>>>>>OK——–check “full control”>>>>>>>OK. (if there is anything asking whether to apply settings to objects in the file, click “yes” or “yes to all”….. don’t be alarmed when it has to go through and process the files, and do not interrupt the write.)

you do that for the drive or files holding your media.  should make it so Windows Media Player plays your files right away, instead of taking forever to open.  whether it’s a good idea or not, is still out with the jury.

have no way to determine WHAT wmp is trying to write to the media files.  probably just a serial number for tracking purposes, and like i mentioned in an earlier blog …. since this seems to specifically be related to Windows 7, the chances that it is related to the Library is high.  should be writing the directory SN’s to the file itself, not the contents.  but only other possibility is that wmp is ignoring any and all instructions to NOT keep global ratings (the star system) on files you play.

so what it’s writing to the file, is a simple count.  1, 2, 3 …. keeping a record of how many times that file has been played.  regardless, it’s invasive, and a much better feeling to play ones media on Linux … where the start is clean and fast, with no writing to your files.

most entries on this particular problem, have as an answer, to disable the media player enhancements.  that the “pause” on start up is “caused by plug and play” and the process of checking audio connections.  i believe this to be false, and have seen absolutely NO improvement in performance, when disabling the wmp enhancements.

it stalls because wmp is attempting to write to your file.   many have just said screw it, and gone with a different media player.  but myself, have found the market on that to be flooded with opportunists seeking more personal information than windows 7 collects on its worst days.

the other thing that might have been a factor in the player now opening quickly, was my REMOVING EVERY FILE ADDED TO EVERY WINDOWS LIBRARY, leaving the libraries “empty.”

(i keep my actual libraries in a different directory)  but i can’t see where that would have been a factor.  if you had the media files you were playing added to a library, then perhaps the library virtual file system is attempting to write to the file each time you go to open it in windows media player.  but my player was stalling like crazy, with nothing in the libraries, with every option unchecked, with the options gone over with a fine-tooth comb.  i also tried uninstalling and reinstalling windows media player a dozen times.

the only thing that seemed to make the difference, was loosening the security on the media files themselves. or rather, making them more specific to the user profile, granting local access for the player to the external HDD.

UPDATE Oct 15, 2010:  looks like the last windows 7 update included a media player update that makes it so now it opens SLOWLY again.  at this point, i believe it to be a registry entry that is NOT default, and somehow got in by third-party software or virus/spyware.

you know how if you have some JACKASS that puts crap on their website, and it opens up a pop-up window or something despite your pop-up blockers.  and THEN when you go to open your browser the next time, the browser is set to that EXACT same size?

it’s like that …. or at least, the windows 7 media player on my machine is fucked up like that.  if you just open it, it’s fine.  but if you click on a media file, or right click and select “open with windows media player” …. then the media player is like the size of a small pop-up window and just sits there taking ten years to load.

SO … i got around that by loosening the security on the files themselves, but something windows has put in this last update has screwed it again.  BUT …..where BEFORE, if you just opened windows media player it would be the small one stuck taking forever …..NOW it opens to the library part of the media player in a normal-size window.

so it’s like they fixed HALF of it … while screwing up the solution for the other half.  now if they could just CLEAN the registry entries when they put in an updated version of windows media player …. we might have something.

give you an option to export your settings or start fresh ….. something.  only way i’m going to get it back is doing a factory system recovery.  and that doesn’t guarantee that the problem with the player isn’t something from a windows update anyway and will just happen same way again.

so for now….. i open the media player FIRST, and then add my media files to the playlist to start it playing.

most of the time i boot into linux for my media-watching these days.  since ATI has a linux driver for the files to show in HD …. the quality is as good.  sometimes a difference in sound, since can have the full K-lite codec pack in windows.  verses the codecs on ubuntu you get through the gnome player or download from metabuntu.

it’s just not worth the pain in windows.  i end up spending HOURS trying to trouble-shoot the damn thing, when all i wanted to do was watch a movie or listen to a song.  it just never ends … ever since vista, it never ends.  you get it right …….BOOM comes another update, and your fucked again!  lol …. i’ll tell ya …..

i know they’re trying and i know hackers and all else make it so have to constantly stay a step ahead …. but what i wouldn’t give for just 6 months of it working the way it’s supposed to.  where could concentrate on what am doing WITH the computer, rather than fixing the computer itself.

i am THIS close, to converting my windows 7 and Vista machines to full Linux systems, and keeping my one XP machine for a windows, offline.

but need to learn more about Linux to make that call.  and i haven’t HAD to learn more, since it just works!  lmao …. oh, the irony :)

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