Looking to slash your Windows PC‘s boot time? You can boot your Windows PC 30 percent faster–without any hardware upgrades. Really!!
After several hours of tweaking and testing, we have managed to reduce the boot time of a PC from 69 seconds to 47 seconds. Here’s how we did it.
When you fire up your PC, the processor performs some initial startup steps and then looks for a specific memory address in the boot loader ROM. Next, the processor starts to run code that it finds at this location, which is the system boot loader. The boot ROM enumerates all of the hardware in the system and performs a number of diagnostic tests. Then it looks for a specific location on the first storage device–probably your hard drive, assuming that the system isn’t set up to boot from a network–and runs code found in that location. That’s the start of the operating system load process.
For Windows, the code that your processor loads is the Windows Boot Manager. The boot manager then begins the process of loading Windows. At some point during this process, the core of the Windows operating system–the kernel–loads into memory along with some key drivers and the hardware abstraction layer. The HAL functions as the interface between the operating system and the underlying hardware. After this, the Windows Executive, a collection of essential services such as the virtual memory manager and the I/O manager, fires up and loads the Windows Registry.
The Registry contains information about what services, drivers, and applications load during boot. The Registry is actually a database that stores configuration settings, options, and key locations for both high-level applications and low-level OS services. Over time, as users install and uninstall apps, the size of the Registry can balloon, thereby increasing load times. Boot times are also affected by the loading of key services and startup applications.
In view of the PC boot process, we can explore several areas to reduce boot times:
Let’s consider each of these Windows functions individually.
Before proceeding further, we need to measure system’s weak boot time. One way to do this is to create a text file containing the text “Stop the Stopwatch.” Drop this into the Windows startup applications folder in C:\Users\your username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. This allows you to time the boot process with a stopwatch and know when to stop the watch. The boot process isn’t completely finished at this point, but the system will be in a usable state.
Measured by this method, our system took 69 seconds to boot–far too long.
First, we looked at the startup services that opened when our system booted. You can check the list for your PC by running msconfig, a built-in Windows utility. Click the Start menu, type Run, press Enter, and then type msconfig in the Run box. Click the Services tab. In the accompanying screenshot you can see that, for simplicity’s sake, we ticked the checkbox next to ‘Hide all Microsoft services’; nevertheless, we did plan all along to disable a few Windows services.
In addition to disabling all of the services shown in the above list, we disabled six Microsoft Windows services from starting on boot:
- Windows Media Center receiver
- Windows Media Center Scheduler service
- Microsoft Office Groove Audit Service
- Microsoft Office Diagnostic Service
- Smart Card Removal Policy
- Smart Card
Since we don’t use Windows Media Center on this system, disabling the first item on the list was an easy decision. And these changes only scratch the surface. Another item that you might disable on startup is Remote Login (if you never use it). The right choices depend on your needs.
After disabling the extraneous application services and a handful of Microsoft services, we found that the system now took 68 seconds to boot–not much of an improvement. The next step was to disable a few startup applications.
Msconfig’s Startup tab lists applications that start on bootup. Here is the list on our test system.
- Adobe Update
- Adobe CS5..
- Adobe Acrobat
- Adobe Reader
Most of the listed startup applets are at least occasionally useful, but none are essential from the get-go. we can manually check for Adobe updates, let QuickTime and Acrobat start a tiny bit slower when we need them, and so on. So we just unchecked all of the applets on the Startup list.
System boot time: 57 seconds.
Disabling startup applications and a few services trimmed 11 seconds off a 69-second boot time–an improvement of nearly 16 percent.
Now motherboard on our test system has two ethernet connectors, but we need only one of them. The motherboard is also set up to check the optical drive to see whether it contains a bootable CD or DVD–and only after that, to try to boot off the hard drive. And finally, since we don’t use an external and secondary SATA controller, we don’t need a BIOS check for the Marvell discrete SATA controller. Armed with this knowledge, we entered PC’s BIOS during startup, and performed three quick operations:
- Disabling the second ethernet port
- Setting up the system to boot from the hard drive first
- Disabling the discrete SATA controller.
Boot time: 52 seconds
So on our system, disabling a few unused BIOS items netted a savings of additional 5 seconds at bootup.
A number of articles suggest that cleaning the Registry of unused or orphan database entries lead to faster boot times, but many of them base that conclusion on rather extreme testing loading up a system with a lot of junk, and then using a Registry cleaner to remove the new additions. We used Piriform’s Ccleaner 3.12, a popular Registry and system cleaner to autoscan my system and identify items that it thought were useless.
first having Ccleaner remove extraneous files, cookies, index files, log files, and other clutter, and then accepting Ccleaner’s recommendations regarding unneeded Registry entries and cleaning those out. The first sweep with Ccleaner improved my test system’s boot time by 1 second (to 51 seconds,) and the second sweep yielded another 1-second advance (to 50 seconds).
now we have one more corrective measure to try: setting the boot timeout delay.
You might expect changing the boot timeout not to have much impact, since all it does is specify how long Windows may display an automatic menu, such as the Startup Repair menu. But it turns out that changing the boot timeout does affect boot performance.
The default boot timeout setting on our test PC was 30 seconds; but 10 seconds should give users sufficient time to respond to any menus that Windows may present. So the boot time after we made this change: 47 seconds. It’s unclear why this alteration has such a relatively large impact, but 3 seconds is 3 seconds.
You can dig deeper into each step of the process we’ve outlined here to reduce boot times further. But with a modest amount of effort, the boot time on our fairly typical system dropped from 69 seconds to 47 seconds, a reduction of more than 30 percent.
The key is to optimize each step of the boot process, one at a time. but sometimes your computer is taking longer to boot because your hard drive is about to crash to always run a hard drive health check first and When in doubt contact Stellar Phoenix Solutions.
- Call us at 1 855 BY STELLAR (297 8355) or click here to complete a service request form.
- You may also visit their website directly to learn more about our capabilities