Overwatch Slow to Start, maybe due to external HDD?


#1

I’ve noticed that Overwatch always takes ~60s to start (no game window opens) on a cold start. The game is installed on an NVME M2 drive, and this had also happened when it was on my regular SSD, so I don’t believe drive speed is the cause. I’ve reinstalled, and it didn’t help.

Warm starts (if I quit and relaunch the client) are fast, as expected, about 5-8s before the window opens.

I noticed that on the cold/slow starts, my external hard drive wakes up, which is odd because I have nothing related to overwatch or my OS on there. If OW is somehow waiting on all drives to be awake instead of just the installed and/or OS drives, that would also explain the difference in startup speeds for cold vs warm (on warm, the external drive is already awake).

Has anybody else experienced something similar or have a solution?


#2

This is a normal symptom if you are keeping your game files on an external HDD. If it is connected via a USB cable, it takes a (relatively long time) for data from an External HDD to load into the computer memory. Most video games work best when installed on the same internal storage drive as that of your operating system.


#3

To clarify here, you don’t necessarily need to have Overwatch installed to your root harddrive (the same as windows) but you should run it off of an internal harddrive. External harddrives even on USB 3.0 just aren’t as fast as an internal drive.

In general, Overwatch will perform the best on whatever the fastest harddrive you have is. If you have an SSD and a 7200 RPM drive, the SSD will give you best performance. If you have two identical SSDs or two identical 7200 RPM drives connected by SATA or PCIe within your PC, performance differences will be negligible.


#4

No, my game files are on the internal NVME SSD. The external harddrive is unrelated to Overwatch, battle.net, or my OS. It contains strictly media files.

I ran Sysinternals Process Monitor and can confirm that there’s a correlation between the unrelated external drive being accessed and a cold OW start. Here’s a screenshot of the event log: imgur/6VccG57.png (sorry for poor formatting, no links allowed).

My guess is that either battle.net or overwatch itself is trying to get disk metadata (through some windows API, hence it being attributed to wmiprvse.exe, which “allows other applications on your computer to request information about your system”) for ALL disks instead of just the one it’s installed on.


#5

Hm! Just to confirm, have you temporarily disconnected the external HD to see if it fully resolves the problem? If not we may be looking at a red herring, but it’ll be good diagnostic data either way.


#6

Yup, disconnected the drive and the slow start did NOT reproduce, which helps confirm that it has something to do with waiting for the drive to awaken. It was a cold OW start but it started immediately.

Sysinternals Process Monitor also had no logs for it (obviously, as it’s disconnected). Unfortunately it’s the only external drive I have that goes to sleep so I can’t test with a different external drive.

EDIT(UPDATE):
I changed Process Monitor settings to monitor all my non-OS/non-game drives (I have 3 internal media HDDs and 1 external HDD, all of which are independent from 2 SSDs which I use for my OS and games). Starting overwatch caused the same accesses I linked in my earlier post to all the drives, even though they’re all media-only. My external has some built-in hardware level sleep in the enclosure that I can’t disable (i.e. not OS controlled), which is why it’s much more finnicky. My internal drives don’t have that feature, so they don’t block/delay OW starting.

I’m downloading Hearthstone now to see if starting that has the same disk accesses (which would maybe mean it’s battle.net doing it), or if it’s specific to Overwatch. Once it’s done I’ll update this post.

EDIT(UPDATE 2):
Hearthstone did not have the same disk accesses, so I think it may be specific to Overwatch (and not battle.net).


#7

Omni,

Okay, looks like we’ve hit bug report turf at this point. That behavior doesn’t seem intended. I’d reach out to the bug forums about it to see if others are also having this problem. Unfortunately there’s not likely much we can tell you to do here in tech other than “Play with the external hard drive disconnected” since you can’t disable sleep settings on the hard drive. Good find nonetheless!


#8

Chiming in with one last thing that hit me just now. If you have any backup software, especially any that backs up to that drive, see if uninstalling it temporarily fixes it. If it does, it’s probably some kind of constant backup service running and noticing a change to overwatch files when you launch (maybe settings.) You might want to set the backup software to run periodically instead of constantly in that case. Good luck either way!


#9

Nope, unfortunately no backup software, but that was a good thought. I filed a bug report as suggested Overwatch wakes/accesses ALL harddrives on startup