Sent to you by Chris Hunter via Google Reader:
One… two… three… how many minutes does it take your computer to start up? Hopefully not more than three, but it wouldn't surprise me if you said it surpassed that time. The thing is, our computers have a lot to do when starting up and I think it's something we often forget about and take for granted. That said, how can we blame our computers when we're bogging it down with a bunch of junk?
It may not even be junk – it may just be great programs, but just starting up when they don't need to. Let's take a look at some useful programs you can use and some things you can do to minimize your start time and get on with your tasks.
Things You Can Do
- MSConfig: Prevent Programs And Services From Starting Up
- Delay Services At Startup
- Device Manager: Disable Unused Drivers
MSConfig: Prevent Programs & Services From Starting Up
One of the first things you can do is take a look at what is starting up. There are several ways to do this. One way is through directly through Windows, no third-party program needed. Hold the "Start" key while pressing "R" to bring up the Run prompt.
Then type in "msconfig", which stands for Microsoft Configuration. Click the "Startup" tab and you will see many items with check boxes on the left. The ones which are checked are starting up.
I will be honest, this can be a little nerve racking if you don't feel comfortable unchecking programs, but here are a couple guidelines to go by in case you aren't sure what to leave alone and what to remove from startup (again this is from running when your computer turns on, not removing from your computer entirely).
- Leave anything labeled with your computer brand alone (ASUS, HP, Acer, Toshiba, etc.)
- Leave anything Microsoft-related alone
- Leave anything Intel or AMD related alone.
- Leave anything labeled with drivers alone.
Examples from the above screenshot for leaving anything Intel related alone would be the "Intel Common User Interface." It seems important, and it is, so let's not touch it. Also, anything with drivers such as the "Synaptics Pointing Device Driver" or the "IDT PC Audio" – those are pretty explicit in explaining what they are in the name. Notice the "Microsoft Security Client" – that's probably good to have running too.
I advise you not to remove these things because I don't want you to accidentally harm your computer. If you know what you're doing and you don't want something from your computer's manufacturer running, by all means, remove it. Just remember there are risks.
Note that this can also be done with services in the tab to the left of the startup tab. This isn't as crucial, but there may be some services you know you don't need running. For assistance you can always check the box in the bottom left corner that reads "Hide all Microsoft services."
Click "Apply" and follow the prompt to restart your computer. I know it may not be necessary, but let's just play it safe.
Delay Services At Startup
You may have already noticed an improvement in your startup with the removal of those programs you don't need starting up (or maybe you don't even need them at all). Another way you can improve startup is by spreading out when the services startup. You can do this by delaying them in different intervals. If you already have MSConfig open, you can get to there by going to Tools > Computer Management > Services and Applications > Services. Or you can go to the Start menu search bar (or Launchy) and type "services."
This is another area that I recommend being cautious with, but it is useful if you know of a certain service that you don't need right away, you can delay it by right clicking on the service, going to Properties and selecting "Automatic (Delayed Start)" from the drop down menu in the General tab.
Device Manager: Disable Unused Drivers
To access the Device Manager, simply go to the search bar on the Start Menu once more and type in "device manager" and then open it. You likely won't notice astronomical amounts of unused drivers, however you might find one or two, and every little bit counts. Obviously you want to be very careful.
In my screenshot I have the wireless adapter right clicked and am hovering over "disable." This is for demoing purposes only. You probably don't want to disable your wireless driver. But if there is something you notice isn't being used, try disabling it – you might notice a difference.
Programs You Can Use
- Startup Managers And Timers
- MSConfig Alternatives
- Revo Uninstaller
- System Ninja
- Additional Tools
As you can see from this list, there are quite a few programs that can be used. Some in combination with each other, others not so much. Most of them have been covered on MakUseOf to some degree as well.
Soluto: Assess Your Computer's Condition
Soluto has been covered extensively on MakeUseOf and is very simple to use. In fact, it already was simple and continues to become even simpler. Just download and run the program and it will do the rest. Then restart your computer and allow it to assess your computer's current condition and state. It looks at more than just your startup up too.
Below is an example of what you might see.
Although Soluto also records how long it takes for your computer to startup, sometimes it's nice to get a second or third opinion. For that, there's BootRacer and BootTimer. BootRacer is a little bit more social and has a fancier interface, but accomplishes the same thing as, previously covered, BootTimer.
MSConfig Alternatives: Autoruns, Revo Uninstaller, CCleaner & System Ninja
You might not think of some of these applications as alternatives to MSConfig, but they are. What's the benefit? Well, if you're already using one or more of these applications, adjusting the startup is convenient while it's already open. And, if you happen to forget how to access MSConfig, you can be rest assured all of these programs will have you covered (of course you could always just Google how too… or read the section in this article).
Autoruns is a program by Sysinternals, now owned by Microsoft. The interface appears and is a bit cumbersome to navigate with the abundant amount of tabs. But what you are looking for is the "Logon" tab, which by default is on the third (bottom) row, second to the right between the "Everything" and "Explorer" tabs.
For managing your startup this is your primary MSConfig-replacement tool. However, there are several other useful tools such as Boot Execute, Services, Scheduled Tasks and many more. Many of these might have a small impact on your startup.
Revo Uninstaller's main purpose is none other than uninstalling applications and it is a great program to have for that, especially if it's bloatware you are getting rid of. Something you might realize while you're sifting through these programs starting up is that many of them you no longer need, or maybe even don't know how they got there in the first place. This is where programs like Revo Uninstaller come into play.
One thing you might notice with Revo Uninstaller is that there are fewer startup listings than in MSConfig or even other programs. My theory for this is that they are eliminating some of the possibilities for the wrong things such as system drivers and other important elements from being accidentally disabled.
CCleaner….we all know what CCleaner is right? It's a great program – that's what it is. And it's best known for its registry cleaning and temporary file removing capabilities. But did you know it also has a startup manager? Well, you probably guessed it since you saw it on the list.
You can see in the image above that all you have to do is go to Tools and then Startup. The nice thing is that there are also options to see what is starting up in Internet Explorer and Firefox, as well as the ability to manage Scheduled Tasks and the Context Menu.
System Ninja is actually a fairly new one to me and I discovered it right here on MakeUseOf in an article by Erez. It's best comparable to CCleaner and it too has a startup manager.
What's my favorite part about System Ninja you might ask? Aside from being feature-packed, the ninja part of course! That and the user interface is quite nice, sleek and ad-free.
Bypass Login Completely With Autologon
Autologon is pretty straightforward and it works. Part of the delay in starting up your computer is simply logging in. Autologon allows you to easily toggle this on or off. When you run the small program, you'll be prompted to enter your login credentials. After you enable it, the next time you start up your computer, you won't have to log in.
Now, there are obvious security risks here, but I'll let you determine whether you trust other people who might be in the vicinity your computer will be in.
Useful, But Not Startup-Related Programs
- PC Decrapifier
- Process Explorer
Remember when we were talking about Revo Uninstaller and I mentioned about finding programs you wanted to get rid of? PC Decrapifier would be another program to help you with this. Although I really like Revo Uninstaller, I've found it to be suitable for quickly uninstalling with it's checklist interface allowing you to uninstall several programs at once. You still have to run through each individual uninstall process, but PC Decrapifier keeps the prompts coming so you don't have to go back and search for the next one to uninstall.
Process Explorer is a Task Manager application that replaces the default Windows app. It's great for additional stats, tools and quickly killing tasks that may have found their way into your startup, when you don't need them running. It's a great way to kill those existing ones instead of having to restart your computer for the changes to take affect after going through the steps of removing one or more programs from the startup.
Conclusion: Prevent Future Programs From Ending Up In Your Startup
Now that you have cleaned out your startup, you want it to stay clean. At least relatively. There will always be one or two things that need to be removed and that means weekly or monthly maintenance. As long as you're doing it regularly, you should be fine. Of course this depends somewhat on the volume in which you install programs on your computer. Even if you carefully install programs, many don't give you the option to not add it to the startup. This is rather annoying to have to go in and remove it and I just feel it's intrusive and a turnoff.
That said, it's likely more common that we just miss the setting completely and add it to the startup. Or worse, add additional "bloatware-ish" programs to your startup that just so happened to tag alone with the primary program you are installing. If this sounds like you, I highly recommend you check out my article on MakeUseOf, A Simple Checklist To Safely Installing Free Software Without All The Junk. It covers all these things in greater detail.
Do you have any tips for speeding up your startup? We'd love to hear them!
Image Credit: Slug With Computer via Shutterstock