Saturday, April 23, 2011

Freeing Your Windows Computer from a Sluggish Startup

There is a serious problem if you "multitask" by taking a break to get some coffee while your computer is logging onto your account. I'm talking about after you've entered in your password. One cause of this is probably the fact that you have too many programs trying to all start up at once. There are a lot of things you can do, from "timing" them to start up at different times to going to get some coffee and being "patient," but there IS a happy medium. There is a way to view what all is starting up and remove some of those unneeded programs and services.

You can access this by going to Run (Windows key + R) and typing in "msconfig" (without the quotes).There are two important tabs "Startup" and "Services." Startup is a list of all the programs that start when your computer starts up. Common programs in this area might be iTunes or other Apple software, anti-virus software, etc. If you don't know what a program is leave it alone, but here's a hint: under "command" you will see the exact location of the executable file (the file that the program launches from). By looking at this, it gives you some understand whether you want it or not. For example, you may see startup items from Intel or AMD, Norton or AVG, iTunes or Windows Media Player, Windows Live Messenger, and maybe some updating programs for Java or Adobe Flash. Here are some guidelines:

Keep Antivirus Starting Up
You want this protection. After you have eliminated several other processes and your computer is still slow starting up, it could be the fact that your antivirus is using too many resources (memory). We'll cover that later though.

Use Common Sense
Just read it and you'll most likely know you need it. Does it say something about audio? That could be a driver or program your computer uses to enhance audio function. If it's a laptop, there will be a driver starting up for your touch pad, which you also need. Also, anything that refers to Intel or AMD (processors) should also be left alone. If there are any updaters starting up and they aren't causing problems, leave them – this saves you time and hassle. This doesn't necessarily apply to people who know what they're doing, but if you're still getting comfortable you should use caution.

With all that said, there are a lot of good programs that place themselves in the startup. Some give you the option to not do this during the initial installation of the program, which is why I always recommend doing the custom installation instead of the "recommended" one. It's not really any more advanced and it lets you know what's getting put on your computer.

I often see programs such as iTunes, QuickTime or other Apple services starting up. Most of the time these are unneeded and I haven't found one person who intentionally has them start up. Uncheck them. Other common one is Windows Live Messenger, Skype or other messaging clients. You probably don't need to talk right away to people when you start up and if there is an occasion that calls for that, it's actually more productive to have a faster startup time and then click the program you want. This applies to almost everything. For example, I use Evernote a lot, but I don't have it starting up with my computer because I simply don't always use it right away. However, I do want SugarSync starting up because I always want that running. Make sense? If you know you always want it running, have it start up, otherwise remove it.

Now for services (the tab to the left of Startup). And yes, we're still in the System Configuration window. First off, my best advice is to click the small box in the bottom left corner that says "Hide all Microsoft Services." Most of the time you don't want to end these unless you know what you're doing and in the occasion that you do want to, you probably know what you're doing. I'm always surprised what I find in this section... sometimes even services of programs that have been uninstalled long ago. Unfortunately there isn't away to permanently remove these from the list, but you can uncheck the boxes just like in Startup. If you recognize a service of a program that you know you don't need starting up, uncheck it, otherwise you should leave most of these alone.

Use Your Assets
There are some very good programs that can help in speeding up your computer's start up time or just overall speed in general. One way is to declutter your unused programs. I recommend the free version of Revo Uninstaller for this. It cleans deep and removes the programs registry files along with it. Defragging is another helpful tasks. There are programs such as Defraggler and Auslogics Disk Defrag that have the ability to schedule defragmenting. Ccleaner is another excellent tool, like Revo Uninstaller it removes unneeded or corrupt registry files. It also uninstalls software, however that's not what I use it for. I use it as an extra swipe through to eliminate registry files and also to delete temporary files from the web that aren't needed.

Hopefully some of these tips and ideas can help you speed up your computer and become more productive and efficient with the work you do on it. Have any suggestions that I missed? Let me know below in the comments!

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