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Upcoming EventsWednesday JANUARY 29, 2014 Meeting
9:15 AM Set up your computer
9:30 AM Lesson
10:30 AM One on One help
Speed Up Windows Boot by Stopping Unnecessary Programs
by Ira Wilsker
One of the most common computer frustrations is a slow boot time. We may remember when our computers were new, they seemed to boot quickly, but now that they are well used, our computers boot up at a snail's pace. The primary reason for a slowing boot process is that the number of items loaded when a computer boots often increases as new software or hardware is installed. Many software titles, and some peripheral hardware, add items to the boot sequence for a variety of reasons, but these startup additions are often unnecessary. Cleaning the boot process by preventing superfluous content from loading at boot may significantly reduce the boot time.
Since the early days of Windows, Microsoft has included a simple utility, Microsoft System Configuration, better known as "MSConfig", with which any user can manually control what loads at boot by simply unchecking an unwanted item or items, and then saving the revised selection. At the next boot (or reboot), these unwanted items will not be loaded, thus making the boot process faster. On all versions of Windows from Windows 95 to Windows 7, Microsoft System Configuration or MSConfig, can be found and run by typing "MSConfig" in the Windows start menu search box. Windows 8 users can locate and run MSConfig by simultaneously pressing the Windows key and the "R" key (Windows + R) to open the Run box, and then typing "MSConfig" to open the utility. Once loaded, click on the "Startup" tab, then uncheck any unneeded items, followed by clicking on "Apply" and then "OK". While simple to use, and built into Windows, the Microsoft System Configuration startup manager does not display everything that loads at boot, and provides no substantial information on the programs presented, making it difficult to determine what is really necessary and what can be safely stopped from loading. It is important to note that by unchecking a startup item, nothing is deleted; it only stops a program from loading at boot. If an item was stopped in error, or the user otherwise wants it reinstated in the boot sequence, simply reopen MSConfig - Startup and check the empty box adjacent to the desired program.
As a general rule, there are often several items displayed in the Task Manager (MSConfig) startup menu that are typically necessary, and should not be stopped from loading at boot. Among items that should be loaded in the boot sequence, and not hindered in the boot process, are security and antivirus software, applications to run necessary peripherals (touchpads, WiFi devices, and others), most Microsoft services, applications from the CPU manufacturer (mostly Intel or AMD), file synchronization utilities (Google Drive, DropBox, and the like), and other programs likely to be used or needed by the user at boot. Generally, it is not necessary to load most other programs (Adobe, iTunes, Microsoft Office, Skype, Java Scheduler, QuickTime, etc.) at boot, as they will still function as before when intentionally loaded.
There are several online directories which can inform the user of the details and degree of necessity (or lack thereof) of the programs listed in the Startup tab. These online directories list thousands of startup items, often with a simple letter code or other recommendation about each item. Among the most comprehensive of these directories is Pacman's Portal at www.pacs-portal.co.uk/startup_search.php. Pacman offers users an updated list of over 37,000 known startup items, each with a recommendation. This massive database is searchable from the online portable, or startup items can be found through the alphabetical menu. Other competitive directories of startup programs can be found at bleepingcomputer.com (over 26,000 startup items) under the tab "Startup List", Glarysoft (startups.glarysoft.com), and other similar directories.
Manually determining what is really needed and what should be stopped in the boot process is a somewhat slow and "hit and miss" process. Fortunately for us, there are several utilities, many of them free, that can automate the process including recommendations on what to allow and what to disable. The popular security software provider MalwareBytes has a tiny (200 kb) and very simple free utility, StartUpLITE (malwarebytes.org/startuplite), that can identify the most common programs that can slow the boot process, explain them, and offer the user simple choices on what to do, Disable, Remove, or "No Action". While not very complete or comprehensive, StartUpLITE is a good choice for a quick check on startup items.
Almost all of the comprehensive system maintenance utilities, including Wise Care 365 Free or Pro (wisecleaner.com), IObits's Advanced System Care Free or Pro (iobit.com), Glary Utilities (glarysoft.com), CCleaner (pirisoft.com), Microsoft Sysinternals Autoruns (technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902), Soluto (soluto.com), WinPatrol (winpatrol.com), and many others. Many security utilities, fully cognizant that malware often appears as items in the startup process, also offer a startup manager; among these is the TrendMicro Titanium Maximum, and Spybot Search and Destroy (safer-networking.org).
Users who would like to see the community ratings, reviews, and recommendations on automated startup managers may find the recently updated list of "Best Free Startup Managers" from Gizmo at techsupportalert.com/best-free-startup-manager.htm. The members of the Gizmo community top rated the Microsoft Sysinternals Autoruns cited above, but also recommended the discontinued, but still available, Starter (softpedia.com/get/Tweak/System-Tweak/Starter.shtml) as "(t)he best choice for the average user ... " WinPatrol was also listed by Gizmo as one of the three best startup managers.
By using MSConfig, or any one of the many startup managers available, and a few minutes of personal time, along with an explanatory directory of startup items (Pacman's is my personal favorite), any user can easily clean up the boot process. Stopping unnecessary boot items will shorten the boot time, making the computer available for use that much faster. Another benefit of reducing the amount of items loaded at startup is overall improved computer performance, as resources are freed up because they are not being utilized by the programs deleted from the startup. Still another benefit is fewer software conflicts (because less software is loaded and running), fewer crashes such as the infamous "blue screen of death", and other performance benefits.
Disabling unnecessary and unwanted items during the startup process is an appropriate task for anyone desiring to shorten boot time. This is a very easy and worthwhile task to improve our computer experience and enjoyment.
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