If you’re a hobbyist that runs a home server, or even a regular computer user that wants to get things done quickly, you will know how important it is to start Windows quickly. There’s nothing worse than having to restart a server and have your visitors tolerate 3 minutes of downtime. Add another 5 minutes of slow loading times until the computer’s fully loaded. When time is money, you really can’t be wasting any of it waiting for a computer to load.
1. Use MSConfig
If you haven’t heard of MSConfig, get familiar with it. This tool is absolutely essential in managing many aspects of your computer’s behavior during its boot time. If you don’t know how to get to it, use the following process:
1. Press “Win + R” on your keyboard. The “Win” key is next to each “Alt” key, away from the space bar. This brings up a dialog that looks like this:
If you can’t find the “Win” key, or your keyboard doesn’t have one, type “run” in the search bar at the bottom of the Start menu and press “Enter”.
2: Type “msconfig” in the dialog and press “Enter” on your keyboard. This takes you to the MSConfig screen I’ve been rambling about. Once inside, click the “Startup” tab. If you recognize a program that you don’t think you need to start up when Windows boots, clear the checkbox next to it.
Additionally, you can click the “Services” tab to disable services you know you don’t need. You must be absolutely sure that you don’t need the services and programs that you disable, or else you end up disabling something your computer needs to function properly. The consequences might make the operating system lose some functionality, but you can usually recover from this by enabling services again using the same method in this step.
3: If you use two or more operating systems on your computer and manage the boot sequence through your current Windows installation, go to the “Boot” tab and type a lower number under “Timeout.” The default timeout for Windows is 30 seconds. This makes the computer boot faster only if you plan to leave it unattended after you turn it on.
2. Device Manager
When you see the loading screen in Windows that says “Starting Windows”, the operating system loads all of your device drivers and essential services. Obviously, disabling some of the drivers that Windows loads will help speed up the loading time a bit. To do this, you must enter the device manager within Windows 7:
1: Click the Start menu and then “Control Panel”.
2: Once inside the control panel, click “Hardware and Sound.”
3: Under “Devices and Printers,” click “Device Manager.” This opens a window that shows you all the devices attached to your computer. Windows has to load drivers for each one of these devices.
4: Expand any of the device categories and explore which devices you don’t use. Right-click on any device you want and click “Disable.” This tells Windows to ignore the drivers for that device. Make sure you don’t disable any devices that your computer needs to function properly, such as the network interface or display adapter.
3. Delay Services
Let’s face it: You need the majority of the services that run on Windows’ startup. If you don’t think you can brave disabling the services, you can always delay them. When you delay a service, Windows ignores the service until enough resources are free to start the service. Once Windows finishes booting, it then loads every service you delayed. To put services on hold when Windows starts, you need to access the Services dialog in Administrative Tools:
1: Access the Control Panel using the same process mentioned in the previous tip.
2: Click “System and Security” and “Administrative Tools”.
3: In the new window that opens, double-click “Services.” Once in the “Services” dialog, right-click any service you want to delay and click “Properties,” as in the image below.
4: Click the drop-down menu next to “Startup Type” and click “Automatic (Delayed).” Don’t do this to services that already have the “Manual” startup type. That just swamps your computer with unnecessary services. Check the image below if you have no idea what I’m talking about.
5: Click “OK” and repeat this as many times as you need to. Just don’t disable a service you’re not sure of.
4. Hardware Upgrades
While you might get away with some changes in your operating system configuration, you still may need to get new hardware for your PC. Suggested upgrades include new or additional RAM (memory) and a solid state drive (SSD). Both upgrades will raise the input/output capacity of your computer per second. Getting faster or higher quantities of RAM will always speed up the boot process, since Windows uses this piece of your computer overwhelmingly when booting.
The hard drive, on the other hand, is the slowest part of any computer, particularly because its functions rely chiefly on moving electrical parts instead of transistors. If you suspect that your hard drive is dragging down the speed of your computer, your only solution could be a solid state drive, which is completely built on transistors and memory cells. These drives usually perform up to twice as fast as a regular hard drive. Be aware, however, that some solid state drives might perform more slowly with algorithmic file processing/decompression than regular hard drives. You’re guaranteed, regardless, that you’ll get a faster boot/run time than a regular hard drive.
Although the processor regularly doesn’t affect boot time, it might slow you down anyway. To check this, open your task manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) while Windows boots and monitor CPU usage through the entire duration. If you constantly see the CPU usage at 100%, it’s time to get a new CPU. Note, however, that CPUs need to use the same socket number as your motherboard. You might have to replace your motherboard also in order to fit a newer next-gen CPU. If you’re not comfortable making this upgrade yourself, you’ll have to pay someone to do it. Just remember that the sooner you get this over with, the better your experience with Windows will be.
Photo Credit: flickr