Q. How do I boost my startup speed?
The most effective way is to upgrade your PC or buy a newer, faster machine. However not everyone can afford this option, therefore we suggest the following alternatives:
1) Increase your RAM. For Windows XP we recommend a minimum of 256MB of RAM, and 128MB for Windows 98/ME users. It is suggested that your PC have a minimum of 256MB RAM to support newer applications.
Upgrading to more memory than that will provide a minimum performance gain in terms of startup, because each operating system when booting occupies a certain size in the memory; when this requirement is met, an increase does not make a difference.
2) Use faster RAM. Memory modules measure their speed in MHz. Using a faster module will increase daily usage performance in opening applications or performing I/O operations. SDRAM comes in speeds of 100/133 MHz, while faster DDR SDRAM comes in speeds of 200/266/333 and 400 MHz. They are also denoted as PC1600, PC2100, PC2700 and PC3200 respectively. The PC number shows the maximum bandwidth in MB/s of the memory module.
For example the latest Pentium 4 machines have a 800 MHz Front Side Bus (the speed at which the processor communicates with all other devices); it is a common practice with Pakistani vendors to pair such systems with the slower 266 MHz DDR RAM to lower costs. You can therefore upgrade to DDR 400 and for the most lethal combination, use them as a pair (two modules of the same size), which is known as Dual-DDR support. Dual-DDR lets you read and write to both the memory modules simultaneously in the same clock cycle. Only newer motherboards support this feature.
For all possible RAM speed upgrades check your motherboard and processor documentation or contact your PC vendor for more details.
3) Disable Startup Items. In most cases some startup items are useful but others may just be eating up system resources. To check what loads on startup, type “msconfig” in the Start->Run dialog box in any version of Windows. You will see that in the General tab, the Startup selection will be set to normal by default. Click on the Startup tab and it will display a list of checked startup items and their paths. Uncheck the program you do not want to load and apply the changes. The computer will ask to restart to effect the changes placed.
Caution: Only disable items you are sure of. You can always come back and restore the changes. DO NOT try editing the items in the remaining tabs. (Use StartupMechanic - Ed.)
4) Use tweaking tools. Microsoft developed a tool called BootVis that arrange the files on your hard disk for faster startup. The tool is no longer available on their site but can be hunted down on the Web.
When I used BootVis, it slashed a whooping 30 seconds of boot time on my laptop running Windows XP. There are lots of other shareware tools on the net for such purposes and Norton System Works has a set of optimizing tools.
5) Another way to boost your startup speed is to periodically defragment your hard disk so that all your files are set as contiguous blocks for faster access. Boot performance also depends on which file system you use; FAT32 gives a faster boot time compared to NTFS but fragments easily over time while the reverse holds true for NTFS
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