Kick-start your computer

BY J. CARLTON COLLINS, CPA

Q: My computer takes almost four minutes to start up. How can I make it start faster?

A: You can take several measures to make your computer start faster. My first tip would be to buy a new Windows 8 computer with a solid-state drive (SSD). I have two such Ultrabooks. The faster one boots up in eight seconds, the other in 11 seconds. This may seem like a drastic measure, but depending upon your billing rate, the increased productivity from using a faster computer may save you more than the price of a new computer over the long haul. Here are other measures to consider.

Use Hibernate or Sleep mode. Instead of turning off your computer, place it in Hibernate or Sleep mode (from the Start button as pictured below); or you can adjust your computer’s Power Options in Control Panel to automatically place itself in Hibernate or Sleep mode after a specified period of inactivity (pictured below). Thereafter, pressing any key wakes the computer in a few seconds.

 

Boot with all of your processors. By default, Windows boots up using only one processor, but you will boot faster if you use them all. To do this, press Windows Logo Key+R, type msconfig and click OK (or Yes) to lauch the MSConfig utility dialog box. On the Boot tab, click Advanced options, check the Number of processors box, select the maximum number from the Number of processors dropdown list, and then click OK, OK (as pictured below). (Note: If you use BitLocker to encrypt your hard drive, you will be asked to enter the BitLocker recovery key on your next reboot.)

 

Remove unnecessary software programs. Each time you install new software apps or applications, additional cabinet files are added to the Windows startup routine, which increases boot time. If you are like me, there may be programs installed on your computer that you no longer need; therefore, it might be a good idea to remove them. To remove unwanted programs, from Control Panel launch Programs and Features to display a list of the programs installed on your computer. Review the applications you have installed, double-click any that you wish to uninstall, and follow the instructions to complete the removal process.

Disable unnecessary startup tasks and services. Many of the applications and utility programs installed on your computer start automatically when you boot the computer, even if they are infrequently used or completely unnecessary. Windows allows you to disable these tasks. To adjust Startup tasks in Windows 8, press Ctrl+Alt+Del and select Task Manager. On the Startup tab, right-click all unnecessary items and select Disable. (For example, I run Norton Antivirus to prevent viruses, but I discovered that another preloaded antivirus program also launched anti-virus tasks each time I started my computer; therefore, I disabled the redundant application, as pictured below.) To make this type of adjustment, on the Services tab, uncheck each unnecessary service, and then click OK. To make these same adjustments in Windows 7 or Vista, press Windows Logo Key+R, type msconfig, click OK, go to the Startup and Services tabs, uncheck each unnecessary service, and then click OK. If you are unsure about an item’s importance, don’t disable it.

 

As examples, some of the services that can safely be disabled by most users include the following:

  • Parental controls. If you do not need to restrict content.
  • Smart card and smart card removal policy. If you don’t use smart cards to authenticate users.
  • Windows Media Center scheduler service. If you do not plan to record TV programs.
  • Windows Media Player Network sharing service. If you do not share Media Player (or other applications that use this sharing service) across a network.
  • Fax. If you don’t send or receive faxes via your computer.


Delay startup tasks. Windows also allows you to delay the startup of each task, which can significantly improve your computer’s boot time. To do this, from Control Panel, select Administrative Tools, Component Services, Services (Local). Review each task and, for those services you use less frequently, change the Startup Type to Automatic (Delayed Start), as pictured below.

 

Other measures. You might also consider emptying your computer’s Recycle Bin, cleaning off your Desktop, defragmenting your hard drive, updating your BIOS, unplugging unnecessary peripheral devices, and removing Desktop Wallpapers or Windows Themes.

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