Instructions to improve Windows computer startup speed

Every day millions of Windows machines are started, and every day, millions of people sit idly by waiting for Windows to load onto the desktop. The amount of wasted time can be measured in weeks, considering how the slowest Windows computer starts up! Thankfully, there are many steps you can take to speed up your computer’s startup.

In this post, I will cover 14 different ways I have increased my PC speed over the years, and hopefully, you will also find that they work for you. Some of you can do this right away, while others will ask to buy new hardware or change your operating system. I won’t mention buying a new computer since it’s an obvious solution. The point is to increase boot time without having to change your current settings drastically.

Before we get to the list, I’d like to mention that I’ve written separately about quite a few of the tips for improving boot time, so it’s a good idea to check out each link. since it will go into detail on how to make that specific suggestion.

Free up disk space

The first thing I do on any slow computer is clean up the disk space as I’ve found that will be the culprit more often than I imagined. Many Windows features use up quite a lot of disk space like recycle bin, system restore, hibernation file, backed up service backup file, WinSxS folder, temp folder, etc.

On top of that, you probably have a lot of data sitting on your computer that you can either move to an external hard drive or delete as duplicate files. Check out my previous posts on removing all of the content above from your hard drive.

Turn off visual effects

On most modern computers, this tip won’t make a difference, but it can make a pretty big difference on an older machine. It can also make a difference if you have a decent computer but a crappy graphics card.

Disabling visual effects in Windows will make your computer look like Windows 2000 as it will eliminate the aviation themes and remove all the transparency and animations. When it comes to boot time, disabling visual effects give the desktop slightly faster.

Paging file optimization

Paging File has always played an essential role in Windows, and although most people never mess with Paging file, it can be used to increase Windows performance and reduce boot time if properly configured.

It’s essential to optimize the paging file if your computer doesn’t have a lot of RAM. Anything less than 4GB RAM is reason enough to play around with the Paging file.

Install more RAM

I have run into a lot of modern machines running Windows 8 with Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, but only manage with 2 or 4 GB of RAM! 4 GB isn’t bad and should be enough for most people, but there’s no reason modern computers should have less RAM than it installed.

If you are running 64-bit Windows on a desktop computer, you should try to shoot for 8 GB of RAM. Note that if you have a 32-bit operating system, Windows cannot see more than 4 GB of RAM, so that’s the maximum you need to install.

Defragment your hard drive

Again, this particular trip will help people running older versions of Windows like Vista or XP because Windows 7 and Windows 8 automatically defragment the hard drive.

If you are using an SSD (solid-state drive) instead of a traditional hard drive, you want to make sure NOT to defragment the drive.

Turn off the Startup program

Startup programs are another major factor in slow Windows boot times. If you are one of those people with anything over five icons showing up in the taskbar notification area, then your boot time is likely to decrease. Using the MSCONFIG utility that comes in many versions of Windows, you can disable startup programs quickly and easily.

Most startup programs can be disabled as they are in third-party programs like Adobe, Dropbox, Google Update, etc. You can run all these manually when you need it. Using them reduces the time it takes Windows to load.

Uninstall the program

In addition to disabling startup programs, you should also uninstall any programs you no longer need or need. I have seen a lot of PCs with countless applications from the past several years on them. There comes a time when you need to get rid of those programs because they add registry entries that will slow down the startup process.

Run a computer cleaner

One problem you may encounter when uninstalling many programs is that the registry entries they create are not necessarily deleted. In these cases, I always recommend running a cleanup utility like CCleaner because they are very safe and make a difference in boot time.

Upgrade to SSD

I don’t want to mention many hardware tools, but this can be a reasonably inexpensive option with huge benefits. You can get a 64 or 128 GB SSD for less than $ 100 today and install Windows on that drive. Moving your current installation or installing from scratch is a lot of work, so this isn’t something everyone can do, but it’s worth a shot.

An SSD has significantly improved the boot time on my Windows 7 machine, making running programs in Windows a lot faster. While this is not an easy task, it will give you better returns than most of the software tips I mention here.

Upgrade to Windows 8.1

Even though a lot of people hate Windows 8, including myself, it boots up fast. I have a three-year computer with a Core i3 processor, 4 GB of RAM with a cheap SSD, and Windows 8 booting from full shutdown to the full desktop load in about 10 seconds. My Windows 7 machine on the same hardware (dual boot) took about 45 seconds.

Windows 8.1 now ignores the annoying start screen and brings you to the right screen but lacks a proper Start button. It seems to be making a comeback in Windows 10, but we’ll have to wait until the end of 2015 before seeing the OS is released. Either way, if you can live with the annoyances of Windows 8, you’ll see a significant reduction in boot time, even with half-old hardware.

Change BIOS Settings

When your computer first boots up, it loads the BIOS, which in turn loads the operating system. A substantial amount of boot time can be spent during this particular phase, and none of the tips mentioned so far will help speed this process up at all.

Because the BIOS is stored on a memory board on the motherboard, it is not affected by anything else on the system, including hardware like RAM, hard drives, etc. Two ways to speed up the BIOS process: change the boot order to the hard disk with the operating system listed first and enable a fast boot, which will disable all hardware checks that were performed initially show during boot.

You’ll have to Google around a bit to see if your BIOS supports it, or you can enter the BIOS by pressing the F2 key or whatever it tells you when booting. It may also be worth upgrading the BIOS if you haven’t done it for a very long time or ever.

Keep Computer Up to date

When Windows loads, it has to load many drivers to make sure everything works properly, like your USB port, graphics card, sound card, hard drive, network card, memory chips, etc. Therefore, it is essential to keep all of these drivers up to date as the latest versions contain bug fixes, speed improvements, compatibility improvements. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools out there. The software can automatically update the driver for you.

Also, you should always install the latest Windows updates using the Windows Update tool in Control Panel.

Disabling unnecessary hardware

If you can reduce the number of drivers that Windows has to load at startup, you will also decrease the boot time. If you go into device manager, you will see a few items you can disable if you no longer use them.

Some of the items I have disabled include floppy drives and controllers, Bluetooth and radio controllers, modems, and virtual Wi-Fi adapters. You want to sabotage things that you know you won’t use. I never use Bluetooth on my desktop computer, so why waste resources?

Use Static IP Address

I didn’t believe this tip when I first heard about it, but I was surprised to find a few seconds scraped off the boot time when I tried it on my computer. Your computer must contact the router’s DHCP server to get the IP address on boot, and the process can be speeded up if you need to set up a static IP address for the router.

I only recommend doing this if you note to yourself that you did this, as having a static IP address can sometimes cause a lot of problems for people that are difficult to figure out. Unless you are technically savvy, for example, if you remove your computer from your local network and connect to another network, you cannot access any Internet or resources because your subnet doesn’t match the new network’s subnet. So you should do this if you understand how it works.

That’s about it. I hope you enjoyed this list and some tips to help you speed up the boot time. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. Enjoy!