||Speed Up Boot and Shutdown Times
Shorten the time it takes for your desktop to
appear when you turn on your PC, and make XP shut down faster as
No matter how fast your PC boots, it's not fast
enough. Here are several hacks to get you right to your desktop as
quickly as possible after startup.
Perform a Boot Defragment
There's a simple way to speed up XP startup: make
your system do a boot defragment, which will put all the boot files
next to one another on your hard disk. When
files are in close proximity to one another, your system will start
On most systems, boot defragment should be enabled by default, but it
might not be on yours, or it might have been changed inadvertently.
To make sure that boot defragment is enabled on your system, run the
Registry Editor [Hack #83] and go
Edit the Enable string value to
Y if it is not already set to
Y. Exit the Registry and reboot. The next time you
reboot, you'll do a boot defragment.
I've found many web sites recommending a way of
speeding up boot times that might in fact slow down the amount of
time it takes to boot up and will probably slow down launching
applications as well. The tip recommends going to your
C:\WINDOWS\Prefetch directory and emptying it
every week. Windows uses this directory to speed up launching
applications. It analyzes the files you use during startup and the
applications you launch, and it creates an index to where those files
and applications are located on your hard disk. By using this index,
XP can launch files and applications faster. So, by emptying the
directory, you are most likely slowing down launching applications.
In my tests, I've also found that after emptying the
directory, it takes my PC a few seconds longer
to get to my desktop after bootup.
Hack Your BIOS for Faster Startups
When you turn on your PC, it goes through a set of startup procedures
in its BIOS before it gets to starting XP. So, if you speed up those
initial startup procedures, you'll make your system
You can speed up your startup procedures by changing the BIOS with
the built-in setup utility. How you run this utility varies from PC
to PC, but you typically get to it by pressing the Delete, F1, or F10
keys during startup. You'll come to a menu with a
variety of choices. Here are the choices to make for faster system
- Quick Power On Self Test (POST)
When you choose this option, your system runs an abbreviated
POST rather than the normal, lengthy one.
- Boot Up Floppy Seek
Disable this option. When it's enabled, your system
spends a few extra seconds looking for your floppy drive—a
relatively pointless procedure, especially considering how
infrequently you use your floppy drive.
- Boot Delay
Some systems let you delay booting after you turn on your PC so that
your hard drive gets a chance to start spinning before bootup. Most
likely, you don't need to have this boot delay, so
turn it off. If you run into problems, however, you can turn it back
Fine-Tune Your Registry for Faster Startups
Over time, your Registry can become
bloated with unused entries, slowing down your system startup because
your system loads them every time you start up your PC. Get a
Registry clean-up tool to delete unneeded Registry entries and speed
up startup times. Registry First Aid, shown in Figure 1, is an excellent Registry clean-up tool. It
combs your Registry for outdated and useless entries and then lets
you choose which entries to delete and which to keep. It also creates
a full Registry backup so that you can restore the Registry if you
run into a problem.
Figure 1. Cleaning the Registry with Registry First Aid
Registry First Aid is shareware and free to try, but it costs $21 if
you decide to keep using it. Download it from http://www.rosecitysoftware.com/Reg1Aid/index.html.
After you clean out your Registry, you might want to try compacting
it to get rid of unused space. The Registry Compactor, available from
will do the trick. Compacting your Registry reduces its size and
decreases loading time. It's shareware and free to
try, but it costs $19.95 if you decide to keep it.
Speed Up Shutdown Times
It's not only startup times that
you'd like to speed up; you can also make sure that
your system shuts down faster. If shutting down XP takes what seems
to be an inordinate amount of time, here are a couple of steps you
can take to speed up the shutdown
For security reasons, you can have XP clear your paging file
(pagefile.sys) of its contents whenever you shut
down. Your paging file is used to store temporary files and data, but
when your system shuts down, information stays in the file. Some
people prefer to have the paging file cleared at shutdown because
sensitive information, such as unencrypted passwords, sometimes ends
up in the file. However, clearing the paging file can slow shutdown
times significantly, so if extreme security isn't a
high priority, you might not want to clear it. To shut down XP
without clearing your paging file, run the Registry Editor and go to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management
Change the value of ClearPageFileAtShutdown to
0. Close the Registry and restart your computer.
Whenever you turn off XP from now on, the paging file
won't be cleared, and you should be able to shut
down more quickly.
Services take time to shut down, so the fewer you run, the faster you
can shut down. For information on how to shut them down, see [Hack #4] instead.
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