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Clean Up Your PC: Shorten Boot Time Part I

written by: Joli Ballew•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 6/12/2009

Does it seem like the time it takes for your PC to boot up is longer than it used to be? It probably is. By the time your office suite, anti-virus program, music software, drivers, Internet connection firewall, and other programs load, you’ve booted a lot of software. You can speed up the boot process by cleaning up the Startup folder and deciding what starts automatically when your PC does.

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    Clean Up the Startup Folder

    The programs in the Startup folder start automatically when Windows does. The more items you have, the longer the boot-up process takes. You can enhance the boot up process by removing as much as you can from this folder. Make sure to leave anything in there that you want to boot when the PC does though. [See Image1]

    By default, many programs place themselves in the Startup folder without your knowledge. This is especially true of third-party Internet downloads. The sad thing is that you probably don’t even need these programs. You can remove them from the boot-up process by using the Start Menu Properties dialog boxes or simply by right-clicking, which we’ll do next.

    If you have items in the Startup folder that you no longer want to start automatically, remove them by following these steps:

    1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Startup, and take a look at the entries.

    2. To delete an entry, right-click and choose Delete. This will not delete the program; it will only remove the shortcut from the Startup folder.

    You can also add entries to the Startup folder. This may appeal to you if you open the same programs every time you boot your PC and you have to open them manually. For instance, if you always open Windows Mail, Photoshop, and Microsoft Office, you can put shortcuts to those items in the Startup folder. Since those programs can take a while to open and initiate, you can boot your PC in the morning, make coffee and pour yourself a cup, and upon your return, all of the programs you need will be open and ready to go.

    To add entries to the Startup folder, right-click the program icon and drag and drop it to the Startup folder. Choose Create Shortcut Here. [See Image 2] When you drag and drop an EXE file, the program will start automatically. You can test it by moving Notepad there; on boot-up, Notepad will open automatically.

    If you've deleted items from the Startup folder, you should notice a change immediately in how fast your PC boots. (This change will be much more noticeable on older, slower PCs.) As mentioned earlier, though, there are lots of applications that boot that aren't located in that folder.

    Clean up Third-Party Programs

    Many programs that are not in your Startup folder start automatically when you boot your PC. You can find out what programs are loading using Run>msconfig.exe. You can also take control in other ways, though, by watching your PC boot and keeping a close eye on what comes up.

    When my old Windows XP computer boots, the following items start automatically, none of which are in the Startup folder:

    * Norton AntiVirus

    * Pop Up Stopper Free Edition

    * Lavasoft's Ad-Watch SE

    * MSN Messenger and various third-party plug-ins

    * Spyware Blaster

    In reality though, this particular computer needs this level of protection (minus MSN Messenger), so it isn't necessary to stop them from booting. But that's not to say you aren't booting things you don't need. Watch carefully, and if you see something you don't want to boot each time Windows does, open the program, locate the option to change the program's boot behavior, and change it.

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