Why Does My Laptop Take 30 Minutes To Start Up?

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One of the more annoying situations you can encounter is a desktop or laptop that takes forever to load. It gets there eventually, but one of the surest signs that something has gone wrong is when your system takes a lot longer to boot into Windows or macOS than ever before — especially if you’re waiting minutes, not seconds, to start using your PC.

My first thought is that there’s some kind of application on your system that’s either hanging or eating up an absurd amount of resources. And you should be able to check this pretty easily — just look through Task Manager to see what’s using your CPU so much, which you’ll be able to find by sorting according to the column.

Screenshot: David Murphy

If you don’t recognise what’s using your CPU, just right-click on the application and select “search online” to do just that. Once you’ve identified the culprit, you’ll have a better idea of what to do about the program. It might be as simple as uninstalling/reinstalling it to fix whatever the issue is, depending on the app.

(Since I can’t see your Task Manager, I can’t be more specific about what to do, especially if the bothersome app is something you probably don’t want to get rid of — Google Chrome, for example, if that’s your browser of choice.)

That all said, it’s strange that whatever is affecting your computer eats up 30 minutes of time (or so) after you boot it. My initial thought is that maybe there’s some kind of scanning or backup app running crazy, but I can’t say I’ve ever noticed Windows Defender or Backblaze going haywire on my own system, to name two examples.

Consider running a full malware scan just in case. While I doubt you’re infected, it never hurts to be sure. Grab the free version of Malwarebytes and give your system a full “Threat Scan”. With luck, you won’t find anything—though that won’t exactly help us get to the bottom of why your system is slow.

Screenshot: David Murphy

You should also check all the programs that load when Windows boots and cut that list down to the essentials. You can do this via the Task Manager’s Startup tab: Click it, sort by “Status” (which should be “Enabled” for everything, if you’ve never done this), and start looking through which programs launch when your computer boots. You probably won’t know most of these, but you can always right-click to “Search online,” similar to what you did before.

My recommendation is to disable anything that’s a “helper” application, or something that sits in the background to load another application slightly faster. For example, you probably don’t need the iTunes helper utility to load when your system starts, nor an Adobe helper. If you don’t use OneDrive, you can ditch that as well (though you’re probably off unchecking the “Start OneDrive automatically when Windows starts” option in its settings.

Screenshot: David Murphy

You could also try running a more nuclear option: the “TronScript.” This is a community-generated combination of scripts and actions that’s designed to clean up your system. I haven’t ever needed to use it myself, but it might be worth looking into, given the complexity of your situation.

Download the utility, read the instructions, and back up your critical files, first, in case TronScript ends up doing more harm than good for whatever reason.

Were I you, I would just say, “The heck with it,” back up your files elsewhere, and reinstall Windows from scratch. This is typically the option I go for when my computer is giving me considerable grief.

The hour or so it takes me to set everything back up again — and the clean - install speed tends to be better than wasting countless hours trying to troubleshoot a system with a hodgepodge of fixes. But that’s just me. Go this route, and I bet you’ll fix whatever problems your system is giving you.

(Assuming your older laptop still uses a hard disk drive and not an SSD, you could also pick up the latter for cheap, back up your files, swap out your drive, and reinstall Windows 10 on your speedier SSD. It’s not terribly difficult to do, even if you’ve never done it before, and you’ll see a big improvement in performance.)


Comments

    When you have a completely clean install, such as having a brand new laptop, its not a bad idea to take a screenshot of what apps/programs are loading on startup, and comparing back to that when things go slow.

    Yes, you're going to be adding things you might want to that list like Steam, but it will give you a strong basis to know what the basic essentials are. Most of those types of services don't NEED to run on startup anyway, and can generally be turned off safely. They just reload when you run that software anyway. Your virus checker is probably the exception there. Any startup stuff it does, leave there.

    My lappy boots off a SSD and booted under 10 seconds when I first got it. Its down to ~20 seconds now (oh, the pain) so probably time to check all those bootups again to clean them, but its not out of control. Last time it was a few services like Uplay, GOG, Origin that I turned off, along with a few other systemy ones. None of which were necessary.

    Something that should be asked when faced with the "why does my laptop take so long to boot up" question is what are it's specs? Particularly how much RAM does it have, followed by is it running a HDD or an SSD? Then what operating system is running on it?

    If it's an older laptop there is a good chance it's running on too little RAM, it's not surprising to see 2GB or even 1GB systems. While that may have been fine 10 years ago it's not now. When you have too little RAM the system will use the main storage (HDD or SSD) as a swapfile when it runs out, and it will run out. So if you're combining too little RAM and a slow HDD (again older laptops often ran super slow HDDs) there's a good chance that you're thrashing the HDD using it as a swapfile.

    It's unsurprising that this happens at startup because it's a perfect storm of events. For a start you're having to load the operating system, then it's loading 3rd party apps and utilities, potentially doing a virus scan, a backup and other scheduled tasks and (especially if you're running Windows 10) checking for and performing Windows updates.

    The tips in the article above are helpful, but ultimately if you've got a small amount of RAM and an old HDD you're going to be better off actually doing some hardware upgrades. I updated my ancient Asus laptop (bought in 2007 or 2008) by replacing the RAM with a 4GB module and the HDD with a cheap 1TB SSD and it's booting in 20ish seconds now. You will need to check whether it's upgradable and make sure the parts will work in it but it makes a world of difference.

    It should also be pointed out that most computers have a limited lifespan. Sooner or later they'll fail or even if they don't physically fail they won't be powerful enough to run modern software (this is why PCs come with 8GB or more RAM not 1GB now). So if your laptop is super old (more than 10 years) it's probably worth biting the bullet and buying a whole new one.

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