Four Windows Boot Optimization Tips You Can Trust

Guest post by: Tibor Schiemann, President and Managing Director, TuneUp.

Does it take an eternity for your PC to boot up? Have you trolled the web for some tips on improving it? Unfortunately, there are some really bad tuning advices out there, but here are four Windows boot optimization tweaks you can definitely trust.

Turn off unnecessary start-up programs. Third-party applications can slow things down quite a bit depending on your system, so go through the list of start-up entries and get rid of the programs you’ll never use or need. This won’t just help improve boot time; it should also reduce the number of annoying pop-ups informing you to take various actions.

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I actually tested this tip by disabling 19 start-up entries on one system and 25 start-up entries on another. It was surprising to see that neither machine had significant improvements in terms of boot time, but I noticed that my systems were much more responsive right after logging on and during general use. This is because disk usage significantly decreased once these start-up entries were turned off.

Since much less is going on during the boot-up process with the start-up entries disabled, you can start working with your computer much more quickly after logging on. You’ll also regain both CPU and RAM resources, which will help speed up the applications you’re actively working with. While you probably won’t notice a huge improvement in boot time like in my test, this tip will help you be more productive and conserve system resources.

Disable devices in Device Manager. PCs and laptops come with several built-in devices or other components that you may not need, such as a Bluetooth transmitter, an Ethernet adapter, a web camera or a sound chip. Windows does not need to reserve interrupt requests (IRQs) and memory resources and load up drivers if the devices are disabled, so turning them off should improve boot time.

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I again put this tip to the test and used Device Manager to turn off several devices, including a webcam, virtual DVD drives and all USB ports and controllers. Boot time went down by a couple of seconds on both of my test machines once the devices were disabled. This tip also had a neat side effect—it helped me preserve battery power on the laptops.

Get more RAM for your PC. This is always a good thing to do, but does it really help improve boot time if you’re just upgrading from 1 GB to 2 GB or from 2 GB to 4 GB? Since core Windows system files, drivers and basic services all amount to less than 1 GB, boot time shouldn’t be affected. However, more RAM should drastically reduce swapping memory to the disk.

I used msconfig to limit the total memory used by my test systems and see how upgrading RAM affected boot time. As expected, the computers’ start-up times steadily improved as more GBs of RAM was added, and on an Asus tablet (Core i5, 4 GB of RAM, SSD drive), boot time decreased noticeably.

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Tweak your BIOS, which may slow down boot time due to unnecessary checks or settings. To combat this, set boot priority to your hard disk, for example, and disable booting from your DVD drive, USB port or network; by doing so, you should be able to shave a couple of seconds off your system’s boot time.

Try to find the “Boot” category in your BIOS, and set your PC to look only for a bootable operating system on your hard disk. But, don’t forget to set it back in case you decide to install a new operating system or run a USB rescue environment. Also, try to find the “Quick Boot” option and set it to “Enabled” to skip the boot analysis of hardware components.

These are the four most effective (and safe) ways of improving Windows’ boot time. Visit the TuneUp Blog about Windows (http://blog.tune-up.com), where we’ve sifted through misleading optimization tips and tuning information, to learn more and make sure that you are maximizing PC performance.

12 Comments

Filed under Computer Maintenance, Education, Guest Writers, System Tweaks, TuneUp Utilities

12 responses to “Four Windows Boot Optimization Tips You Can Trust

  1. Munch

    What’s the big deal with boot times? I hear people complain about how long it takes their computers to start up and I myself have experienced long boot times but I just don’t really get what the fuss is all about. I spend 9 hours a day on my work computer so is the extra 30 seconds to a minute or even 5 minutes in the morning taking a big chunk of my life? I’m more concerned about how the computer runs once it is up.

    What does everyone else think? Do boot times really matter that much to you?

    • Hi Munch,

      Yes, boot time matters to me. Seconds here or there – not really. But, extended boot time (5 minutes) absolutely. It isn’t a question (for me) of wasting 5 minutes of my life – it’s more a question of expectations.

      An average user, who’s machine takes 5 minutes to boot – should wonder why.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. I have to disagree with the disable quick boot option suggestion. It will speed up your boot time, but one of the checks that the longer boot sequence does is a RAM check that will identify and mark any bad segments of RAM to keep those addresses from being used. If you`re doing any sort of critical work, it`s well worth the extra time to have that check done.

  3. Darryl Gittins

    I’m with Bill on this. If only it were a mere 30 seconds to 5 minutes, then no, there’s no real problem, but typically, the boot time on a Windows system can be anywhere between 15-30 seconds on a new system with an SSD, to up to ½ hour on an older system, particularly if it’s a domain connected system, loading policies and looking for a DC. If you’re busy trying to make a deadline, a reboot can be a serious issue, and you are going to be looking for anything you can do to reduce the startup time. There is the added annoyance of the boot being a two stage process: 1. Reboot to the login screen, then, 2. Login, and wait for everything else to load. You can avoid that by using a reg hack to log on automatically with your password, but of course, that’s not secure. Usually, getting to the desktop is fairly quick, but then after you log on, it can take another 10-20 before some domain-based systems are actually completely finished churning away and actually are ready for work. One reality about Windows-based systems – they do slow down over time if you’ve installed a lot of software, and even uninstalling the software isn’t going to resolve the issue completely. You need to actually wipe and reinstall the operating system after time.

  4. pmshah

    Boot times on my dual core Atom PC based Zotac system are rather long but I don’t have to worry about it. It is on 24/7. I switch it off only when I am going to be away for several hours.

    The chart does NOT look promising. Increasing ram from 1 GB to 4 GB achieved saving 15 seconds from a 150 second boot time.

    BTW 64 bit Windows can access hire than 3.2 GB of ram. Should have included 6 GB and 8 GB booting times also. It definitely is fast with 6 GB ram on my quad core Phenom system.

  5. I appreciate the advice here but don’t feel that for most users tinkering with the bios is safe for most users. This can get a lot of PC users into trouble. I feel the title is somewhat misleading to say these are safe tips from this point of view. Even for the most technically minded, the bios can be a challenge to adjust its settings as recommended in the article

    • Hi Ashley,

      Your opinion has value of course, but it’s not one that I share.

      Adjusting a BIOS setting to change boot order doesn’t qualify as “tinkering” in my view. In fact, with over 3.4 Million Google references – “how to change bios settings” – it seems rather pedestrian.

      Moreover, changing boot order in order to boot from a CD/DVD – when referencing Linux rescue applications, is common advice here.

      Nor would I agree with your observation “Even for the most technically minded, the bios can be a challenge to adjust its settings as recommended in the article”. Of all the complex issues one might encounter while working in the BIOS – changing the boot order ranks amongst the simplest.

      The above, I think, speaks to your comment “the title is somewhat misleading.”

      Bill

  6. Thanks for your comment. I understand that changing the bios sequence may be easy for this audience, however there a lot of folks who are afraid to change the bios and can easily get lost inside it, even those who are more technically aware.

    Hopefully with the introduction of UEFI, it will make changing the boot sequence less daunting and more user friendly. Although this is someway off yet

    • Hi Ashley,

      We agree on quite a lot actually – including your point that there are “a lot of folks who are afraid to change the bios”. I can’t think of a personal friend (typical user) for example, who would consider doing so. As well, there are sections of the BIOS that could easily confuse some who consider themselves to be “technically aware.” It can happen to the best of us. :)

      Like you, I’m looking forward to UEFI – there are some big changes coming.

      Thanks for continuing the conversation – it’s not always easy to make the intended point in a quick bite.

      Bill