Speed Up Boot and Shutdown Times

Shorten the time it takes for your desktop to appear when you turn on your PC—and make Windows shut down faster. 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, whether you use Windows XP or Windows Vista.

Confirm That Boot Defragmentation Is Enabled

There’s a simple way to speed up Windows startup: make your system do a boot defragment, whichputs all the boot fi les next to one another on your hard disk. When boot fi les are in close proximity to one another, your system will starta faster.

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, launch the Registry Editor by typing regedit at the Start Search box or a command prompt


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, your computer will perform a boot defragment.

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 Windows. So, if you speed up those initial startup procedures, you’ll make your system start faster.

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 either the Delete, F1, or F10 key during startup. You’ll come to a menu with a variety of choices. Here are the choices to make for faster system startups:

Quick Power On Self Test (POST)

When you choose this option, your system runs an abbreviated POST rather than the normal, lengthy one.

Change Your Boot Order

If you change the boot order so that your BIOS checks the hard disk fi rst for booting, it won’t check any other devices, and will speed up your startup time.

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 on.

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 cleanup tool to delete unneeded Registry entries and speed up startup times. Eusing Free Registry Cleaner (www.eusing.com/free_registry_cleaner/registry_cleaner.htm), shown in Figure 1, is an excellent

Figure 1.
Cleaning the Registry with Eusing Free Registry Cleaner


Registry cleanup 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 lets you restore your Registry if you run into a problem.

Speed Up Shutdown Times

It’s not only startup times that you’d like to speed up; you can also adjust things so 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 process:

Don’t have Windows clear your paging fi le at shutdown

For security reasons, you can have Windows clear your paging fi le (pagefi le.sys) of its contents whenever you shut down. Your paging fi le is used to store temporary fi les and data, but when your system shuts down, information stays in the fi le. Some people prefer to have the paging fi le cleared at shutdown, because sensitive information (such as unencrypted passwords) sometimes ends

up in the fi le. However, clearing the paging fi le can slow shutdown times signifi cantly, so if extreme security isn’t a high priority, you might not want to clear it.

To shut down Windows without clearing your paging fi le, run the Registry Editor and go to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management

Change the value of ClearPageFileAtShutdown to 0. (It may already be set to this.) Close the Registry and restart your computer. Whenever you turn off Windows from now on, the paging fi le won’t be cleared, and you should be able to shut down more quickly.

One simple way to speed up shutdown (and startup) times is to not ever actually shut down your PC. Instead, use sleep or hibernate modes. They use very little power, and shut down and start up your PC far more quickly than when you shut off the power completely.

Sometimes it takes Windows a long time to shut down because it’s waiting to see whether a service will stop on its own before prompting you to manually shut it down. Windows, by default, waits 20 seconds before prompting you, which can sometimes seem interminable. You can hack the Registry to have Windows ask you sooner than 20 seconds. Run the Registry Editor and go to:


Look for the WaitToKillServiceTimeout value. By default, it’s set to 20000 (20,000 milliseconds). Change it to another number, in milliseconds—such as 15000, which would have Windows wait 15 seconds instead of 20 before prompting you. It’s a good idea to start off lowering the number in increments of not more than fi ve seconds, to see how your computer responds. And don’t set it to lower than 5000, or you might lose data or your PC might not shut down properly.

Turn off unnecessary services

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.