How to speed-up Windows XP boot-up?
April 27, 2006 3:41 PM   Subscribe

What's exactly happening during the various stages of Windows XP's boot-up process, and how can I speed it up?

I'm mostly curious about what is happening in the background during various points in Windows XP boot-up. The major points that I'm seeing are: The XP splash screen, the "windows is starting up... / loading your personal settings..." dialog box, a blank background with just a mouse cursor for a little bit (this is the part that seems slow to me), and then of course the obvious loading of startup programs once I've got a taskbar.

I noticed that after creating a new user, the boot-up time seemed faster to get fully into Windows but then after that my programs would load slowly (the only programs I have loading at startup is Notebook Hardware Control and Dell QuickSet for my hotkeys). For some reason or another, now I get a much longer wait with the mouse cursor but no taskbar, and when I get fully into Windows my programs seem to load faster or already be loaded.

I suppose my question is multi-part: What is actually going on here during all these various points of start-up, why would my wait time switch as described in the above paragraph, and what are some useful ways of improving boot-up time.

I'm running a Pentium M 1.7ghz with 1.25gb of RAM.
posted by Ekim Neems to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
If your programs are already loaded, you might be hibernating the system instead of shutting it down. Which is actually a good idea in general -- I never shutdown my laptop except for security fixes.
posted by smackfu at 4:16 PM on April 27, 2006

Microsoft bootvis will show you what files/processes are loading between Windows starting up and your desktop being fully loaded, how long each takes, how much memory each uses, and a bunch of other useful stats. With the information you get from bootvis, you can better tweak your startup cnfiguration with msconfig.
posted by skwm at 4:18 PM on April 27, 2006

I think at one point (before a reformat) I used BootVis to reorder/defrag my boot files. Since then I've heard that it actually won't help as it's technically legacy software. I didn't know I could get a report like that though, thanks!

For some further info: I've got almost nothing starting up in msconfig, and I've disabled many services that I don't need.

As for hibernating, I've never actually used it (and in fact I have it turned off for the absurd amount of disk space it uses). And I'd love to use sleep if my Inspiron 6000 would ever wake up from it! I have the most current BIOS and have reformatted many times and that problem still persists. I guess that's a whole new question for another day :)

Thanks for the input thus far!
posted by Ekim Neems at 4:21 PM on April 27, 2006

Check out BootVis, a Microsoft tool designed for OEMs to optimize the OS images they pre-install. All sorts of info.

when I get fully into Windows my programs seem to load faster or already be loaded.

This is probably prefetch in action; after XP sees you use a program a few times, it will automatically load portions of it when you boot up. Look in c:\windows\prefetch to see what it is loading. It is completely safe to prune this directory for things you don't actually use often.
posted by SpookyFish at 4:22 PM on April 27, 2006

Bootvis hasn't ever made as much difference as I'd like - but my startup time actually isn't to bad. All the same, I often use StandBy (aka Sleep, or S3) instead of turning off or hibernating, and it's really nice - it uses the bare minimum of power to keep what was in memory and so on, so it doesn't need to read the state back from the harddrive when you want to start up again. Uses a bit more power than turning right off or hibernating, but I guess it's up to you if that matters more than a quick response when you push the juice button.
posted by The Monkey at 4:44 PM on April 27, 2006

Uses a bit more power than turning right off or hibernating

Turning off or using hibernate uses absolutely no power. Anything more than zero is going to eventually run out. I've sadly experienced this.
posted by mmascolino at 5:45 PM on April 27, 2006

You can try Jackass JoeJoe's StartRight, or you can write an AutoIt script that does the same thing.

I also recommend the Startup Control Panel to disable all the things the programs that run on startup that you don't need.
posted by Sharcho at 1:30 AM on April 28, 2006

mmascolino - plug your computer into the wall. Makes all the difference... (We're talking about boot-times here, not specifically low-power drain states for an idle laptop running on battery power.)
posted by benzo8 at 1:37 AM on April 28, 2006

try running through these two sites optimize xp & 10 ways to speed up xp. Also don't run any updates, just an opinion but they really bloat startup/shutdown times.
posted by psychobum at 3:23 AM on April 28, 2006

Another solution: install a faster notebook drive. They're not all the same. Larger/newer ones almost always run faster than stock HDs.
posted by catkins at 9:37 AM on April 28, 2006

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