How To Improve Windows XP Slow Startup Performance

by Rod Dunne on August 13, 2010

in Articles, Performance

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How long do you normally have to wait for Windows to boot up? If it is anything more than a few minutes then this can be a major irritation and inconvenience. Here, we’ll show how to speed up Windows XP slow startup times.

Main Startup Problems

The factors that cause Windows XP slow startup performance relate to three main factors:

  1. The applications initialized at startup.
  2. How effectively your CPU, RAM and hard drives are used.
  3. System faults.

The follow sections detail each of these.

1: Improving Slow Boot Times By Limiting Which Programs Run

As Windows is starting up it initializes programs and services. Some of these are critical operational services such as modem drivers and anti-virus programs.

Microsoft System Configuration Utility (a.k.a. msconfig)However, there can also be many non-critical programs that could be left out of the boot process without harming your computer (and make your PC startup faster). Some examples would be Instant Messenger and Skype which can easily be started once the computer is up and running if desired.

If these programs do not have a ‘run at startup’ setting to disable then use the startup tab in the System Configuration Utility to disable these programs. There is no Start menu entry for the program – you can run it via the Start > Run program by entering msconfig.

It is worth also going through the startup list of programs and checking how much RAM each application uses in the Task Manager (processes). If the memory usage is high then check for any product updates.

2: A Slow PC Will Have A Slow Startup

A slow boot up speed will also be dependent on how fast your computer is and how effectively CPU/RAM/Hard drives are being used. You can improve slow PC performance using regular PC maintenance and repair activities as follows:

  • Install the latest device drivers and operating system files using the Windows Update service. They regularly contain performance improvements and fix startup problems relating to device driver applications.
  • Increase the size of your paging file (Control Panel > System > Advanced > Performance). Windows uses this as virtual memory when running programs during startup – using more memory will improve slow boot times. The paging file uses empty space on your hard drive so just be sure to check the disk is at least 10% empty.
  • Defragment the hard drive partition that contains your XP system installation (usually the C-drive). The defragmentation process will consolidate file fragments on the disk memory, making them quicker to read. Many system files are run as part of startup so improving read access of these files helps boot up speed. Of all the Windows XP speed up tips listed here, it is essential to run a defragmentation every three or four weeks in order to retain disk access speeds.

3: Severe Startup Problems: XP Freezes

If you find your computer slows severely or XP freezes as it boots then you could try the solutions mentioned above to start with.

However, you must also consider the possibility of the following issues:

  • Virus/adware/malware/spyware present on your computer.
  • Windows registry corruption.

A virus can run in the background using up system resources or start damaging system program files (including the registry). At best this could result in slow boot performance. At worst, XP freezes up with a blue screen exception. Run your anti-virus software on all partitions then isolate and remove the problems.

Registry issues that cause a slow PC are more difficult to detect and manual fixes are generally advised against attempting. The registry contains configuration data for all users and programs (system & 3rd party) on your computer so altering configuration keys can impact numerous programs. The best approach is to use a registry cleaner to check for startup problems (e.g. Registry Easy or XP Repair Pro). These tools can also optimize configuration settings to speed up internet connections and overall PC speed.

Related Posts: Why does my computer keep freezing?

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