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One of the questions I am often asked is how to speed up the time it takes Windows to load or boot. There are a variety of factors (both hardware and software) involved in lowering the amount of time it takes for Windows to load. I will go over most of these ways in this page starting with changes in the system BIOS and moving onward from there.All of these changes are optional, and do not need to be carried out. Instead, they are offered as suggestions to try to lower the time it takes for Windows to boot. Some of these changes are very advanced and should only be attempted if you are comfortable with making the changes and have your data backed up.
System BIOS Changes One of the first places to help speed boot time in Windows is to make some simple changes to the system BIOS. The BIOS or Basic Input/Output System is a set of instructions and commands built into the motherboard that allows the computer to know what type of hardware is connected and how to communicate with that hardware. You'll first have to gain access to the BIOS setup screen to make any changes.
If there are lots of items here, this will slow down the boot time for Windows considerably. Each of these items can be toggled on or off simply by using the checkmark box to the left of the item. The column directly to right of the checkmark is the Name of the program, while the next column over is the location on the hard drive or other device of the file. Finally the last column shows where in the computer the file is started from. This location could be in the registry as is the case with all the locations that begin with HKLM or HKCU, or it could be in the Windows Startup folder found under ALL PROGRAMS in Windows XP.You can examine each of these startup items and uncheck any that are not necessary. How do you know which ones are not necessary? Well, in most computer configurations, you'll want drivers running for your graphics or video controller and sound card, and most likely an anti virus and firewall running. Other start up items are usually extras that could be eliminated from boot up.
Click on the Services tab, then click on the option at the bottom called "Hide All Microsoft Services" to see what unnecessary Windows services are running that can be removed. Generally speaking, you want services related to your video/sound cards and antivirus or firewall programs left running. Other services may not be essential and can be removed. Remember to only remove unessential services or you risk experiencing boot problems. Use Google to search for information on unfamiliar services. Another good resource is Black Viper's Strange Services page.Hardware Changes to Increase Boot TimeAdding more Memory (RAM)Other than upgrading the motherboard and CPU, you can generally increase the amount of RAM in your computer to make it load programs and applications faster and provide a more enjoyable computing experience. You'll want to check your motherboard to make sure you have available slots and the maximum amount of RAM you can add to your particular motherboard.Replacing your Hard Drive with a Faster RPM DriveIf you have a slower hard drive such as a 5400 RPM or slower, you may want to consider upgrading to a faster 7200 RPMhard drive. The difference in RPM speed will generally be quite noticeable. Changing to Static IPIf your computer is connected to a local area network that you control and you have a DHCP server enabled on your router, during the boot process the computer queries the network to valid IP address. You can shave seconds off your boot time by assigning a valid IP address to your computer instead of using DHCP to assign it. To setup a Static IP for your computer, follow these directions.1) Click on Start, Run2) Type NCPA.CPL and press Enter to open the Network Connection Control Panel3) Right-click on the Local Area Connection and choose Properties4) Click on Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click Properties5) You should see a screen similar to the one below. Fill in your static IP, subnet, default gateway, and DNS server information and click OK.
Again, this is an optional item and does not necessarily need to be accomplished. Using DHCP is fine, although you sacrifice a few seconds for an IP to be assigned to from the network.Switching from Master/Slave to Cable SelectIn a recent article, I talk about how changing the configuration on the hard drive from Master to Cable Select reduced the boot time on this particular machine by 2 minutes.Other Windows Performance TipsReduce the Number of Fonts installedEvery font that is installed in Windows has to load when Windows starts. The more fonts you have installed, the slower Windows loads. Although you can safely have around 1000 fonts loaded in Windows, I like to keep my font list closer to 300-500 or fewer if possible. There are certain fonts that are definitely required by Windows, so be careful in removing any fonts from your computer unless you know they are not needed. Fonts such as Verdana,Arial,Trebuchet, Tahoma, Tahoma, Times New Roman, MS Sans Serif, and Courier New should be left on your system. Follow the directions below to remove extra fonts from Windows XP.
I recommend running an online virus scan first, then a check for spyware.
Lavasoft Ad-Aware SE 1.06Spybot Search and Destroy 1.4Microsoft Windows Defender
Using a Different Antivirus, Firewall, or AntiSpyware ProgramIf your computer is still running slow after changing and checking all of these options, it might be time to use a different program for antivirus, firewall, or antispyware security. A blog on the net called The PC Spy has a graph displaying the boot delay time from most of the popular products on the market including Symantec, McAfee, Trend Micro, ZoneAlarm, and more. Not surprisingly, Symantec's Internet Security products top the list with a 40+ % boot delay, followed by Panda Antivirus, and Zone Alarm. So, while these products may help prevent infections and attacks, they also are contributing greatly to the slowdown your computer is experiencing. Avast, AVG, NOD32, and others perform much better according to this chart.Tips or MythsThere are other miscellanous tips on the web that may help speed up the Windows boot time, but there are also some very controversial ones. Emptying the Windows Prefetch FolderThe Prefetch folder found at C:\WINDOWS\PREFETCH is often a source of controversy concerning its effect on boot time. This folder preloads some applications to enable faster opening of the most used programs. There are tips on the web that point to changing a registry value or emptying the prefetch folder will improve boot time. From my experience, deleting the contents of the prefetch folder DOES NOT improve boot time and only slows the time required to open programs. There is a limit to how many items will be loaded into the folder so it doesn't get overloaded, so why would anyone empty this folder when its purpose is to speed up loading of applications. You can read more about the Prefetch Myth on XP Myths.
Disable the Windows Boot LogoMany sites recommend disabling the animated Windows boot logo to help speed up the time it takes to boot. Although it may decrease the time by a couple seconds, the anxiety caused by facing a blank screen and wondering if Windows has stalled or froze during bootup outweighs the second or two you may save. Although if you wish to disable the Windows boot logo, follow these steps:1) Click on Start, Run and type MSCONFIG and press Enter2) Click on the BOOT.INI tab3) Click the NOGUIBOOT checkbox and click OK4) Reboot the computerUsing BootVisWhen Windows XP first came out, Microsoft had a utility called BootVis, which was a performance tracing tool that Microsoft developed from software developers and system designers. It was used to identify performance issues while developing new PC products, but is no longer distributed. Microsoft states on their web page for BootVis"Please note that Bootvis.exe is not a tool that will improve boot/resume performance for end users. Contrary to some published reports, Bootvis.exe cannot reduce or alter a system's boot or resume performance. The boot optimization routines invoked by Bootvis.exe are built into Windows XP.
These routines run automatically at pre-determined times as part of the normal operation of the operating system."I personally have tried Bootvis and saw a couple seconds improvement on overall boot time, but nothing extreme in lowering overall bootup speed.ConclusionAlthough I tried to include as much information as possible in this article, I have intentionally left some tips, hacks, and changes out. The basic steps in this article should improve your system boot up time considerably which in turn should give you a happier computing experience.