Top 10 Ways To Speed Up Windows' Boot Time

If there's one thing everyone dreads, it's rebooting their computer. It may only take a minute or two, but it can seem like forever. Here are our top 10 tweaks that will make your computer boot a little faster.

Photo by Alex Schwenke.

This is a pretty controversial topic, as there's a lot of snake oil out there. So, we took to the streets (of the internet) and searched for as many easy, well-supported tips as we could find. There may be others, some of which are controversial, but these 10 things are almost sure to get you a faster-booting machine.

10. Tweak Your BIOS

When you first set up your computer, your BIOS is set up to make things a bit more convenient for you, but once you're all set up, those things can be disabled. If you hold the DEL key when you start up your computer (or whatever key your BIOS tells you to enter setup), you can turn on the "Quick Boot" option and move your hard disk to the top of the boot priority list. The Quick Boot setting will turn off the tests your computer runs when it first turns on, and the boot priority tweak will tell your computer not to look for CDs, thumb drives, or other media when it first starts, which will get you booted into your OS quicker. If you ever need to boot from CD though, you'll have to go back into the BIOS and change this again before you do.

9. Clean Out Programs that Launch at Startup

One of the most tried and true ways to speed up your boot process is to keep unnecessary programs from starting up with your computer. You can do this by running msconfig from the Start Menu's search box, and going to the Startup tab. This applications list will tell you what each of those applications does, so you know which ones you can disable and which ones you don't want to. Previously mentioned Soluto is also a fantastic way to clean up these programs, and these days it's got a bunch of other handy features that make it worth a download.

8. Delay Windows Services from Starting at Boot

Many people argue that disabling Services from msconfig will also speed up your boot time, but we've found that this is more problematic than anything. However, you can delay certain startup services so that your computer boots quickly and then worries about them later - after all, you don't need all those services the minute you start up your machine.

7. Change Your Boot Menu's Timeout Values

If you're dual-booting your machine, then your boot menu probably has a "timeout value", meaning the amount of time it waits for you to make a selection before it just boots into the default OS. On Windows, this timeout value is often 30 seconds, which is a long time to wait if you aren't looking directly at your screen. To change this timeout value, head to msconfig and click on the BOOT.INI tab, and change the number in the timeout box to something lower. If you're dual-booting with Linux, you're probably running the GRUB boot menu, and you can change the timeout on that too.

6. Disable Unused Hardware

Your computer loads a lot of drivers when it first starts up, some of which you might not even use. Head into the Device Manager from the Start Menu's search box, and look for anything you aren't using - Bluetooth controllers, modems and virtual Wi-Fi adapters are common culprits. Right-click on the entry you want to disable and hit "Disable". Remember to only do this with things you don't actually use - if you use Wireless Hosted Networks, you'll need to keep those virtual Wi-Fi adapters enabled. It's also worth mentioning here that keeping all your drivers up to date will help this portion of the startup time, too (which you can do with the help of a program like previously mentioned Device Doctor).

5. Keep Your Antivirus Up to Date

[imghttp://cache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2011/07/msewindow.png|" size="legacy" align="left"] This should go without saying, but we'll say it anyway: install some antivirus software, keep it up to date, and run a regular scan. This is more of a preventative measure than an actual boot-speeding tip, but if you ever do get malware, it's sure to slow your computer's boot time. With a good antivirus tool like Microsoft Security Essentials, you'll be more protected against that happening. Don't like MSE? There are some great ones out there too, so there's no reason not to have one around.

4. Remove Unnecessary Fonts

Since the dawn of time, Windows has loaded fonts at startup and slowed down the boot time. Windows 7 loads over 200 fonts at startup; even more if you've installed Microsoft Office. Chances are, you use very few of those fonts, so you can hide them to speed up that process. In Windows 7, open up the Fonts folder from the Start Menu's search box, and check off all the fonts you don't need. Then click the "Hide" button in the toolbar. This way, if you ever want them, you can bring them back, but Windows won't load them at startup. Note that just removing a few fonts probably isn't going to make a noticeable difference - you'll probably need to get rid of a few hundred. That said, you might have hundreds more fonts installed than you realised, so that isn't as ridiculous as it sounds.

3. Upgrade Your RAM

Installing more RAM has always been an effective way of speeding up your computer, and that hasn't changed. RAM is pretty cheap these days, so if you're running low, there's no reason not to stock up and make your computer run a little smoother. We've gone over how to replace it in both a desktop and a laptop, and even for the inexperienced, it's a pretty simple procedure.

2. Give Your Computer a Static IP

When you first start up your computer, it spends a significant amount of time asking the network for an IP address. You can get rid of this process altogether by giving your computer a static IP address that never changes. Not only does this make your network easier to manage (since each computer will always have the same IP address), but it can shave a bit more time off your startup. Here's how to do it in different versions of Windows.

1. Install a Solid State Drive

These days, your hard drive is probably the biggest bottleneck in your machine. One of the best upgrades you can make to your computer is to install a solid state drive, which has super-fast read times that can speed up your startup considerably. They're certainly not a cheap upgrade, nor are they without their own maintenance requirements, but if you want to speed up your computer and its boot time, you can't go wrong by installing an SSD. The difference will be shocking.

Again, these aren't the only ways to shorten your computer's boot time, but they are some of the most well-known, trusted methods that we've found. If you have any of your own favourite tweaks, share them with us in the comments, but beware of myths and snake oil - there are a lot of tweaks out there that do more harm than good.


Comments

    For msconfig, try a program called soluto. It is phenomenonal! It takes most things from there and puts it in a very pretty ui which is easy to understand even for the faint hearted. And they keep upgrading it to make it better

    SSD is by far the answer. When you think of it as a performance component rather than a storage component it will make sense.

    I will never buy another desktop or laptop with a spinning disk for the OS.

      Precisely!

      I hate it when people compare the two on storage and say HDDs are better, its like using the argument "I can buy a 16GB USB and use it for RAM and it will be waaaay cheaper" the two serve completely different purposes.

      Really people should start thinking of an SSD as a necessary component and that using HDDs as OS drives as cheaping out, I know that I'll never go back. Mechanical stuff just seems so primitive in the world of electronics.

        I agree, went SSD in my desktop 2 years ago. It was pricey at the time (most expensive component in the build by far) but I will never go back to a mechanical drive for the OS, its just that good.

    Anti-virus itself is a great way to slow down your boot speed.

    + 1 for soluto.

    These commentators know their stuff...

    Upgrading to an SSD will blow you away if you've not used one before.

    Soluto is pretty good - think I might have read about it on here actually, not sure.

    Soluto looks interesting, but its privacy policy alludes to its spyware-like properties.

    The app collects: "...information regarding products installed and/or being used on the PC, usage level of each installed product, performance data, ISP name, connection type, City, Country, other service providers you use", and also, "... the time, type and manner of use of the Software. This information may include, for example, information regarding the IP Address and Geo-IP parameters, time of usage, performance of your browser, various applications on your computer, certain web applications used by your computer, usage patterns of applications on your computer, socio-demographic information..."

    (http://www.soluto.com/pc/support/privacy-policy/)

    Be careful!

    I don't know how it is now, but previously soluto was a pretty buggy program. It didn't really work for me, and it ended up giving a friend BSOD's.

    +1 for soluto, much improved from the early days

    You forgot my favorite tweak.

    Install Linux.

      Most people aren't masochists.

      Chrome OS would yield better results.

      Then spend hours trying to get drivers only realising that your random wifi/usb/mouse/keyboard-dongle doesn't have Linux drivers. Revert back to Windows and it just works. True story

    It's worth noting that to change the bootloader time you can also go to start>right click computer>properties>advanced. That's how I found it originally. I normally use the GRUB bootloader now. +1 for installing Linux! :D

    linux, good for the brain also :D

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