Before getting down to business to make Windows boot faster, we have to understand why Windows boots slower. One reason for the slowdown of Windows is us, the users, and the second reason is Windows itself. Let’s start with the first one.
What does a user do? A user install programs on his computer. There is nothing wrong with this; if the user wants his computer to perform a specific task, such as editing spreadsheets, he will install a program to do it. However, the program is not so innocent. Many programs place themselves or some component of themselves, such as the “update checker” to the Windows startup. Some programs have the right to do this, such as device drivers, anti-malware programs, firewalls etc. Although these are logical, it is not acceptable to me for an image viewer to place itself in the start-up; what if I have booted my computer to watch movies but not for viewing images? Why should that program slow down my boot time?
Removing Unwanted Programs
The first place to visit is Start → All Programs → Startup. Right-click there and delete all the shortcuts there. Then head up to your start menu and select Start → All Programs → Run and type “msconfig” which will open up the System Configuration Utility. Switch to the “Start up” tab where you will see various programs that are started when Windows starts. Check the entries carefully and remove any items you think you don’t need. There is an important thing to note here: remove the programs you do not need, not the ones you don’t recognize. There are two types of programs that you’d better keep:
- Device Drivers: Your sound card, graphics adapter etc. should be running when Windows starts. Don’t disable them.
- Anti-malware programs: Don’t disable your anti-virus, anti-spyware and other anti-malware products. The same goes for your firewall.
You can safely remove an entry such as “Adobe Assistant” which does not do anything except check periodically for Adobe updates when you are connected to the Internet. Just check the items and evaluate them: do you really need to have them started with Windows? A quick way to determine this may be to check the installed programs; if the entry is about a program that you have installed, other than the drivers and the anti-malware programs, it is more likely that you can remove the program from the startup.
Remove Unused Programs and Fonts
Why would you want to spend your computer resources for the programs you have installed once and never used? Remove those programs which you do not need but are pulling down your computer’s performance. No, you do not need the cute kitty screensaver that you installed with the expense of some hard disk space and processor cycles. Nor do you need the fancy smiling e-mail management program.
Also, many users do not know that the fonts present in the C:\Windows\Fonts directory are a real resource hog in Windows boot. Yes, Windows reads all the fonts that you placed there every time the system boots. Make yourself another folder, such as Fonts under My Documents and place your unused fonts there.
Read on for checking Windows XP services, Windows Vista Services and other boot optimizing techniques.
Check Windows Services (Windows XP Professional)
You can’t control your operating system as much as you can control your installed programs. One thing that you can do is to disable the Windows services that are not necessary. Go to Control Panel → Administrative Tools → Services. You will see a two-pane window. On the left there are the local services that we’re interested in. To change the service, double click on the entry and change the “Startup type” to “Manual” or “Disabled”. Following are the list of services to consider to disable:
- Alerter: If your computer is not on a network that requires you to change your password periodically, you can set this to “Disabled.”
- Application Layer Gateway Service: If you are not using your computer as a router to have the other computers on the network to connect to the Internet, then you can set this to “Disabled.”
- Clipbook: If you are not sharing your clipboard with the computers on the network, you can disable it.
- Distributed Transaction Coordinator: If you are not accessing network filesystems or databases, you can set it to disabled.
- Net Logon: If you are using your computer as a stand-alone device and not in a home/office local domain based network, you can disable it.
- Remote Desktop Help Session Manager: If you are not receiving remote support, or if you do not allow your computer to be controlled remotely, you can disable it.
- Remote Registry: If you don’t want somebody to tweak your registry, then disable it. I see this one as a potential security hole.
- Telnet: Enables remote users to connect to your computer with the Telnet protocol. If you do not want this, or you do not connect to your computer remotely with Telnet, you can disable it.
- Terminal Services: Unless you are using your computer to access terminal servers or unless you are using your computer to allow such connections, you can disable it.
- Upload Manager: Unless you are in a local network and sharing data, you can disable it.
- Wireless Zero Configuration: If you do not have a wireless connection from your computer (such as a desktop connected to a modem/router via cable) you can disable it.
- Workstation: Like the upload manager; unless you are in a network sharing data, you can disable it.
Screenshot courtesy of Integ.
Read on for checking Windows Vista and Windows 7 Services and other boot optimizing techniques.
Check Windows Services (Windows Vista and Windows 7)
To access the services under Windows Vista and Windows 7, go to Start → Run and type services.msc and hit Enter. Click continue in the User Account
Control (UAC) dialog box. Following are the services you can disable or set to manual:
- Diagnostic Policy Service: If you know what you are doing on your computer, such as making sure that a program has been installed correctly, you can disable it.
- Distributed Link Tracking Client: You can disable this if you are not on a network.
- IP Helper: It is very unlikely that you are using IPv6. You can set this to “Disabled.”
- Network List Service: Unless you are on a network, or unless you are experiencing too many Internet connection problems, you can set this to “Disabled.”
- Offline Files: You can disable it if you are not using offline files.
- Print Spooler: You can safely disable it if you don’t have a printer.
- Remote Access Connection: If you are not connected to the Internet via a dial-up service or if you are not using Virtual Private Network connection, you can set this to “Disabled.”
- Server: If the other computers on the network are not accessing your computer to share files or use the printer, you can disable it.
- Tablet PC Input Service: Is your computer a Tablet PC? If not, you can disable it.
- IKE and AuthIP IPSec Keying Modules: If you do not have a VPN connection that uses Internet Key Exchange or IPSec, you can disable it.
- Network Location Awareness: You can disable it if you are not on a network and you don’t plan to share your files and printers.
Screenshot courtesy of Technospot.
Defragment Your Hard Disk
This is the final point in speeding up our Windows boot. When you are working with Windows, files get scattered over the hard disk over time and the hard disk head requires more time to find the remaining part of the file. You can think about it as reading a book in the following page order 1 – 8 – 15 – 2 – 24 – 3 – 81 – 12 – 9 – 11 – 4 which is confusing. Every one of us prefer to go with the 1- 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 - … which makes more sense. Defragmentation is the process of putting the “pages” in our book in order,where the pages are the files and the book is the hard disk.
I personally do not find Windows’ defragmentation utility, which you access by Programs → Accessories → System Tools → Disk Defragmenter, an effective tool. I would rather recommend Auslogic’s Disk Defrag program as very efficient and effective. It is a very small download and does not take up much space.
Making any Windows system boot faster involves some tweaking the system. I recommend you make one change at a time and see if everything works. That way, if something goes wrong, you can immediately undo your last change and continue where you left off. However, you also have to take into account that undoing your last change may affect the programs that you use and you may have to reconfigure them. It is always a good idea to make a restore point before making changes of this sort to your computer.
This post is part of the series: Boot and Run Windows Faster
If your computer is slow to boot up everyday, if your boot time is long enough for grabbing a coffee, then the time has come to roll up your sleeves and start optimizing your system. In this article series we optimize our boot time and optimize our Windows system to work faster.