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How to: Faster startup

Is it taking ages to load when you switch your computer on then you should read this guide carefully.

First of all we should determine which phase takes longer during booting process. When we switch the PC on there are 3 phases ;

  • Phase 1:  You see a black background and lots of text, displaying your clock speeds, hard drive configuration etc. ,
  • Phase 2:  Windows XP or Win 98 logo will be displayed
  • Phase 3:  Your desktop wallpaper tray bar startup programs and your shortcuts on your desktop will be loaded.
I seperated startup events in to 3 phases because it is useless to tell a solution if the problem is in different phase.

Solution for Phase 1:

Most of the problems caused by incorrect bios settings. Bios is your motherboard's control panel that allows you to change boot configuration, install a new harddisk etc. If the settings are not correct you wait and wait, for example a Pentium 4 phase 1 takes about 15 seconds at most. If your computer is fast enough then you might not see the phase 1. Anyway 9 out of 10 phase 1 problem is incorrect boot configuration. If I simplify what is going on about boot config, motherboard telling your computer which device to start first? What are the options? Options are removable devices, hard disks, cdrom devices.
To change the settings you must go to bios settings window by pressing the "delete" key just after you switch on, look to your screen carefully it displays which key to press for BIOS. If it is not delete try Esc, F2 or F10. When you enter to BIOS look for boot configuration, boot sequence or boot order. You will see

1st boot device : For fast startup choose harddisk, IDE0 or C 
2nd boot device: CDROM
3rd boot device:  Floppy or removable drive

Most of the motherboards default settings come with Floppy, CDROM, Harddisk .This is the slowest solution because your processor looking for floppy drive you can hear the strange sound, then trying to read your CDROM if there is startup disk, then starts your operating system from your harddisk. You should change the order to Harddrive, CDROM and Floppy as you see above then without reading floppy and cdrom devices your operating system boots straight forward. If you have a old cdrom device or having problems to read floppies then it takes such a long time to read and check if there is a boot disk. So save your settings and exit, you will see the difference!

Also check your antivirus program settings some of them makes a full scan in startup process , I suggest you to make full scans regularly but not in each startup.

Solution for Phase 2:

If you have a problems in this phase then it means it is something serious. Registry crashes, missing files in windows, a mass of temp files etc. I could not tell all the problems and solutions in this phase because there are too many reasons. I strongly recommend you to restore your best configuration settings during startup it is basicly going back to a successful configuration if your computer restore settings are ON. You can check it by right-clicking My Computer then Properties then go to Computer Restore  tab, check if the box "Turn off System Restore on all drives" is not selected. I will write a guide about system reliability and backup. Keep checking the how to guides if you are interested.

Solution for Phase 3:

This is the most famous phase spyware, malware, trojan and viruses all place theirselves into startup and it causes lots of problems, sometimes it cause windows not to start. First impact is the speed, if something is not normal taking too slow some icons are missing or different icons coming to tray bar (Is the bar where your time and date is in, most of time on the right-bottom-corner). Error messages might come and you click OK button lots of times, sometimes it never finish! But you can handle all of this problems, by some simple mouse clicks you might stop all of them. I think the most important thing is to identify the problem, if you can identify the problem then it makes things easy. Like determining where does it stop or hang over which phase ? or what kind of error messages come up?

Which programs are running during startup?

Unfortunately Microsoft has got a tool which is quite poor. I will advise you to use a different program. Let's see what windows offer for us "msconfig.exe" you can run the program from Start Menu -> Run -> Type "msconfig" without " then you will see a menu like below


If you know the applications you can unselect them then it will not run next startup, but it is too difficult to seperate, it does not tell us the signatures, who is the publisher or description of program. There is a free tool from Sysinternals called Autoruns.exe which is showing you all the information you need to block the program. It works with all versions all windows. You can download the tool from here Autoruns . Some information about the usage;
Simply run Autoruns and it shows you the currently configured auto-start applications as well as the full list of Registry and file system locations available for auto-start configuration. Autostart locations displayed by Autoruns include logon entries, Explorer add-ons, Internet Explorer add-ons including Browser Helper Objects (BHOs), Appinit DLLs, image hijacks, boot execute images, Winlogon notification DLLs, Windows Services and Winsock Layered Service Providers. Switch tabs to view autostarts from different categories.

To view the properties of an executable configured to run automatically, select it and use the Properties menu item or toolbar button. If Process Explorer is running and there is an active process executing the selected executable then the Process Explorer menu item in the Entry menu will open the process properties dialog box for the process executing the selected image.

Navigate to the Registry or file system location displayed or the configuration of an auto-start item by selecting the item and using the Jump menu item or toolbar button.

To disable an auto-start entry uncheck its check box. To delete an auto-start configuration entry use the Delete menu item or toolbar button. Select entries in the User menu to view auto-starting images for different user accounts.

Now you have control on startup programs, you can stop unwanted programs running. Freewares like Winzip, Getright, Winamp Agent, Adobe reader place theirselves into startup and I do not see any reason to keep them they only help slowing startup. You should disable them running in the startup from the programs itself most of time you have the choice but they are hidden somewhere in the options or settings menu. It is always better to disable from the program itself if there is not any choice and program is still running on startup then use Autoruns.exe unselect the box job done.

If you have any questions , I will be pleased to answer if I can. Please post your questions in the forum .