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How to Troubleshoot Windows XP Slow Start-up

written by: •edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 9/25/2009

Windows typically takes a minute to load from a cold boot, but after a few years you may notice its taking more like five minutes to start. This is primarily caused by numerous programs running at startup. This article will give you some tips for disabling programs from starting up.

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    When you first got your PC, its startup time was probably pretty bearable – maybe even snappy. After months or years of installing and removing programs, spyware infections and the like, you may find it takes substantially longer to start-up windows XP than it first did. There are several things you can do to speed up the startup time of your computer, including defragmenting and removing items from starting when Windows does.

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    Your hard drive stores information and programs in blocks on your hard drive. When you remove programs or delete data, this frees up blocks on the hard drive. Unfortunately the blocks may be distributed all over your hard drive. This is called fragmentation, and by having data spread randomly around the hard drive, it takes longer for your computer to find the required information it is looking for. One of the easiest ways to speed up your computer is to defragment it on a regular basis.

    You can use the built in Windows XP defragmenter or a 3rd party tool. For additional information, see my related article on Free Tools to Speed up Windows XP.

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    Stopping Items from Starting Up

    Startup Control Panel It’s an unfortunate trend, but seemingly every new application you install wants to have itself startup or run some portion when Windows XP boots. This not only ties up memory and CPU resources, but causes your computer to take additional time when startingup.

    You can pretty easily see what is set to startup by using the Microsoft System Information tool, but this only presents a read-only view. In order to be able to manipulate the programs running at startup, you can dive into the registry or use a free 3rd party tool written by Mike Lin. Startup Control Panel was written to give you the ability to easily disable startup programs.

    You will want to make sure you have a recent backup before performing any modification of your startup programs. Most programs can be safely disabled from automatically starting, but there are some specific programs Windows uses to perform basic OS level functions.

    The Startup Control Panel tool can be found on Mike Lin’s web page -

    1) Once downloaded, run Startup.exe.

    2) The Startup Control Panel program will start.

    3) Flip through the tabs – each one listing a different way programs are started – applications that are checked will start automatically, unchecking the box will disable it.

    4) When you’ve finished, close the application. Any items you unchecked will not start the next time you boot windows.

    If you aren’t sure which programs you can safely disable, you may want to look up the program on a site like “Windows Startup Online Repository".

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