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Why does the boot process take so long?

They can put a man on the moon, dagnabbit, then why can't they make a Windows computer that boots in something less than 12 eternities?  Think of the quadrillions of lost man-hours spent sitting idly in front of a booting PC.

Seriously, though, is there really no way to make the boot process go much faster?

J. D. Trollinger
Sunday, February 08, 2004

What OS are you running?  When I first installed Windows XP I was very impressed with the boot up speed.  I remember reading an article in MSDN Magazine explaining how they had made that a priority.

Kevin Sanders
Sunday, February 08, 2004

1) Make sure you have a 7200rpm drive
2) Defrag your boot drive
3) Go through your programs and remove stuff you don't need
4) Get a copy of Startup Cop somewhere and make sure you're not loading crap you don't need
5) Check your services - don't run stuff you don't need.
6) Run Adaware
7) Make sure you've got plenty of RAM. It's so cheap you might as well make sure that's not an issue. :)

Philo

Philo
Sunday, February 08, 2004

Startup is always fast after the first install. Once I've installed everything I use, its much, much slower. Even after eliminating all unnecessary startup programs.

This on a machine thats currently top-of-the-line Intel specs (I875P, 3Ghz P4, DDR400, etc) with gobs of memory and fast SATA disks.

James Wilson
Sunday, February 08, 2004

Computer geeks never shut their machines off. Since they designed this stuff it never was a priority, no matter what the marketing drones say otherwise. Even if XP gets it down to 20 nanoseconds, your various spyware, antivirus, instant messengers, xsnow, DHCP client, all has to initialize right? So unless all these guys can be in memory ready to go in a heart beat--that quick boot nirvana will never be achieved.

Li-fan Chen
Sunday, February 08, 2004

Interesting thing about anti-virus software: For well over a decade now I've dreamed of the day when I'd have a computer powerful enough that the irritating resource hogging of anti-virus software would be negligable -- that time still hasn't come. I really think it's all relative, and when you're used to using a cutting edge machine, that slight speed decrease is still appreciable.

Of course I've never had a virus since the Atari ST days, so it would have been wasted cycles regardless.

Dennis Forbes
Sunday, February 08, 2004

This is a great program.  There are at least 3 or 4 places where programs can startup every time, so this program makes it easy to find all of them and disable them.  I run it regularly.

http://www.mlin.net/StartupCPL.shtml

Roose
Monday, February 09, 2004

I just purchased a new machine (P4 2.6gz, 1GB ram, 120GB HD) and the boot speed is amazing. 

I've also heavily optimized my machine: turned off all services that I don't need, very few startup processes, no virus scanners, etc.

Also, Windows XP boots considerably faster than Win2k on the same hardware.

Almost Anonymous
Monday, February 09, 2004

Ah, spot all the Windows users who are forced to continually reboot their machines.  Personally, I like running an OS that I can safely leave running permanently.

OK, sorry for baiting Windows users.

My excuse is that it is still early on a Monday morning here in "Blighty", and my second cup of tea has yet to take effect.

David B. Wildgoose
Monday, February 09, 2004

David,

Maybe some people have desktops that they like to turn off? Unless it's a server of some kind, then a desktop is really very little use left on if no one is using it.

Surely it's a good idea to save money on the electricity bill :)

James 'Smiler' Farrer
Monday, February 09, 2004

This software is also good. It has descriptions for each startup item.

It also allows precise IE plugin configuration, so you don't run what you don't need.

http://download.com.com/3000-2096-10261265.html?tag=lst-0-1

Randor
Monday, February 09, 2004

I remember there was another interesting tool which analyzed startup time, including each driver's startup time.

However, I don't remember it's name and where I got it from. :-(

Randor
Monday, February 09, 2004

"Maybe some people have desktops that they like to turn off?"

- I was waiting for that comment.  And yes, you're right.  My excuse is that the machine in question is a low-power mini-ITX (a silent "Hush" PC) that I deliberately bought in order to leave on permanently with a permanent ADSL net connection.

I certainly wouldn't want the dual-CPU monster it sits next to turned on all the time.  Its fans make it sound like Concorde turning off, and it runs so hot that in Summer I'm always worried about it overheating.  And yes, that's in an English (Yorkshire) Summer as well.

David B. Wildgoose
Monday, February 09, 2004

Oops.  "taking off" not "turning off".  The subject is doing strange things to my brain...

David B. Wildgoose
Monday, February 09, 2004

Mike Lin's little applet is excellent (and so's his other stuff) but you have to eliminate unnecessary services if you want a decent boot time.

Try here for one page on the subject

http://snakefoot.fateback.com/tweak/winnt/services.html

There are many others.

As for Windows 2000 booting slower than WinXP, that's not my experience. We have two machines here with very similar hw specs, one running XP, the other 2000. Now that I've tweaked them both, I can't detect any marked difference between them. YMMV, of course.

Dave Hallett
Monday, February 09, 2004

I find W2K horrendoously slow. XP is probably twice as fast for equivalent hardware.

I would never turn the W2K desktop off, but it's in the bedroom, and the fans are incredibly noisy.

One thing that really puzzles me is how it seems to take longer and longer over time to boot exactly the same configuration. Anybody else have the same experience?

Stephen Jones
Monday, February 09, 2004

"I find W2K horrendoously slow. XP is probably twice as fast for equivalent hardware."

I don't about twice as fast in general; but certainly booting is twice as fast.  I had an older machine that I ran Win2k on for years and then upgraded to WinXP 6 months ago.  I can safely say that WinXP is faster; they even added certain little UI tricks to improve performance.  However, I did turn off WinXP themes.

The WinXP themes will take up more memory and that can seriously degrade performance when compared to Win2k.  However, with themes disabled WinXP uses no more memory than Win2k.

Almost Anonymous
Monday, February 09, 2004

"Ah, spot all the Windows users who are forced to continually reboot their machines.  Personally, I like running an OS that I can safely leave running permanently."

Have you even used Win2k or XP?  I can run for long stretches at a time without rebooting.  Possibly not as long as I could with linux, but who cares really once you get into the "weeks" category (actually here at work, I have to reboot linux more often than win2k, but that's not really a fair comparison as I put more stress on my linux box).

On that topic, for the people complaining about startup time: have you tried using standby mode or hibernate instead of shutting down all the time?  Going in and out of standby is very fast in my experience.  With winXP this is a pretty good option since it doesn't really need to be rebooted that often.

MikeMcNertney
Monday, February 09, 2004

"One thing that really puzzles me is how it seems to take longer and longer over time to boot exactly the same configuration. Anybody else have the same experience? "

Are you defragging regularly?  As the drive becomes fragmented it will take longer to read everything into memory

MikeMcNertney
Monday, February 09, 2004

Another solution : Install 9x on your P4. Boots sooo fast :-)

FredF
Monday, February 09, 2004

Yes, I have defragged. No difference. Anyway, if the configuration is exactly the same the disk will not be any the more fragmented.

Standby and hibernate leave the case fans running. A no-go in the bedroom.

I was referring to the boot process. In other things XP appears no faster, or maybe even a tad slower.

Stephen Jones
Monday, February 09, 2004

I don't think it's correct that standby and hibernate leave the case fans running.  Maybe standby does, I'm not sure on that, but I'm pretty sure hibernate doesn't.  After all, hibernate is what my laptop does when the battery gets low.  It wouldn't make much sense to continue drawing power in that case.

Hibernate has a bigger restart cost though, cause it goes through the normal boot system before getting to windows and loading the old session

MikeMcNertney
Monday, February 09, 2004


It was my understanding that MS got XP to boot faster than 2000 by simply giving the user control while still loading things in the background. That is, in 2000, it wouldn't give you the log in prompt until pretty much everything was loaded. But in XP, they load just enough to give you the log in prompt then let you log in while still loading stuff in the background. So it actually takes just as long to load everything, they just moved the point where the user gets control.

On the surface it sounds like a good idea. But I've found that with XP, it's very slow just after logging in (because it's still loading). So I generally leave XP machines alone after startup until their disk stops chugging.

Bill Tomlinson
Monday, February 09, 2004

I've got a couple of additional case fans in the desktop that keep running whatever happens. I don't think there's any way to switch them off. I can't remember what we plugged them into, but they feed directly of the power supply, since I couldn't get fans with connectors to plug into the motherboard.

I'll get new motherboard and chip one of these days (the present config is a Pentium III 733) and then I'll have to upgrade the case as well, so I'll get a fan that plugs into the motherboard and turns itself off.

I could just schedule the machine to turn itself on when I get up, if it was a real hassle.

Stephen Jones
Monday, February 09, 2004

Suspend leaves the fans running, but hibernate shouldn't; it shuts the system down.  It writes the contents of memory to disk; then when the system is restarted it rewrites that information to memory so you can start right where you left off.

As far back as '97 I had a Dell notebook that did this (it called it "Suspend-to-disk"), but about half the time after it finished unhibernating it would lock up.  In Windows XP it works a lot better on my new laptop, but on my desktop the USB components would frequently not respond after unhibernate, so I gave up using it there.  But perhaps by now there's a fix for it?

Kyralessa
Monday, February 09, 2004

Stephen,

I'm finding this "twice as fast boot" hard to credit. I just timed my Win2000 startup. From the point where I select the OS in the boot, it's 20s to see the desktop background, and overall 50s to a fully working desktop, including antivirus and personal firewall running in the background. This is on a Athlon 1800XP with 512M, and a Seagate Barracuda IV drive, hardly state of the art.

Are you really saying that with Windows XP I could be looking at the desktop within 10s and be able to work after 25s?? If so, I need to take a long hard look at our WinXP machine, cos it's not doing anything like that well.

Dave Hallett
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

I have a 733Mhz W2K desktop. Before I see the desktop background we are talking 90 seconds or more. On my 1.6Ghz XP laptop I see the desktop in around 15-20 seconds, and it's even quicker with the 2.4Ghz XP desktops we have in the language lab.

We have a 1Ghz W2K machine in my office that sometimes takes up to five minutes before you see the desktop.

I'm told the slowdown occurs with W2K trying to set up networking, but all the W2K machines I have worked with end up taking ages to  reach the logon.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Thanks for the clarification - confirms my impression. More than likely the networking services are the problem, because I'm on dial-up here and hence have most of them disabled. If you need them, of course, that would be different.

Another possibility that occurs to me is that WinXP may be better at resolving dependencies and starting services in parallel rather than serially, if Windows can do that. I know something similar is possible in Linux. Then if like me, you have very few services running, the two OSes would look much the same, but if you had to run lots of services, XP would boot more quickly. That's just a wild guess - I have no idea whether it's true!

Dave Hallett
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

"From the point where I select the OS in the boot, it's 20s to see the desktop background, and overall 50s to a fully working desktop, including antivirus and personal firewall running in the background."

Login screen in 10 seconds, fully working desktop 20 seconds. Windows XP Pro, Pentium 4 2.53GHz, 1GB of RAM, 120GB x 2 SATA RAID.

In my experience, the biggest factor in bootup time is the speed of the disks.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Uh, I don't think anyone would debate that, Brad. I was just interested in the relative speeds of XP vs. 2000, because I was well aware that MS had put a lot of effort in to improving boot times for XP, and yet I couldn't see any difference in my experience. If that's because I don't need any networking stuff, fair enough, I can understand that. The sad thing is that there are probably loads of home users sitting around berating their sluggish 2000 boot up, and thinking about moving to XP to get a quicker boot time, when all they have to do is configure the thing properly. It's a shame.

Dave Hallett
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

"Sleep" on my machine turns it off completely (no fans whatsoever).

It takes about 1 sec. to rev back up -- actually the CRT needs about 3 secs -- and it's right where I left it, Winamp picks up playing, everything.

Alex.ro
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

well, my computers really messed up. P4, 2GHZ... 512 ram
it's had this problem since i bought it but i couldnt be arsed to do anything about it.
This only occurs with Win 2K btw, right... my computer literally takes about 10 minutes to boot up, no idea why. When i format and boot up its fine, as soon as i install the nvidia geforce drivers then reboot, it takes around 10 minutes, and gets slower with every program i install, damn i'd love to have like 30 seconds boot time, lucky bastards :)

Greg RJ. Stephens
Thursday, March 18, 2004

but the whole performance of the PC is fine, just the bootup time is rediculous

Greg RJ. Stephens
Thursday, March 18, 2004

Greg, your exactly right on about the geforce drivers.

I just recently bought a new hard drive for my win2kpro machine.  To make a long story short I formated and installed twice because of a problem with zonealarm and checkdisk and what I found out was don't install the video drivers until last.

Even after the installation of sp4 and all the other windows updates and AV and software firewall and a few other utilities my boot time was less then 30 seconds.

As soon as you install your video drivers it's up around 4-5 minutes.  But I have to say for me it never get any longer then this after other programs are installed.

E. Jaws
Friday, June 25, 2004

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