Optimize Windows 7 Startup and Boot Time

I have found that Windows 7 runs fairly faster than Windows XP and Windows Vista right out of the box. The footprint has definitely been lessened and it doesn’t feel as bloated as Vista did.

However, as with any operating system, you can tweak or change the software and hardware to truly maximize performance. With Windows 7, there are a few things you can do that can really speed things up in terms of startup time and boot time.

In this article, I’ll go over a few things I have done on my system that has ended up working out well. Of course, some items are pretty technical and should only be done by people who know what they are doing (such as turning off unused Windows services).

Move Page File

If you can, it’s always best to move the paging file off the hard drive where Windows 7 is installed. Remember, that it should be a separate hard drive, not just a different partition on the same hard drive.

Basically, this allows Windows to use the paging file without having to interrupt the reading/writing on the current disk. It can do both simultaneously, which definitely makes a difference.

Set Windows to Logon Automatically

If you’re  not terribly worried about security, then it might be worth settings up Windows 7 to login automatically to your account. You can set this up for accounts that have passwords. There is no need to remove a password from an account.

Check out our previous post on how to setup the automatic login for Windows 7:

http://helpdeskgeek.com/windows-7/windows-7-auto-login/

Run Disk Cleanup/Defragment Software

My favorite for this is CCleaner, which will clean out temp folders, etc and will clean out unused or invalid entries in your registry. This can speed up boot time and startup, especially if you have installed and uninstalled lots of programs over the course of an extended period of time.

It’s also a good idea to defragment your computer every once in a while. I don’t recommended doing it all the time because it’s unnecessary. But it can improve performance if you do it once a month.

It works better on computers that store large files like huge movies or ISO images, etc. Sometimes those files cause other files to be split all over the hard drive.

Turn Off Windows Features

Sometimes you might end up with a Windows 7 PC that is running Windows 7 Ultimate when you really don’t use any of the advanced features of that OS. You can just leave it as it is or it might be better to simply disable certain aspects if you know you will never use them.

For example, you can turn off all the Games or IIS (Internet Information Services), etc if you never use them. Just go to Control Panel and click on Programs and Features in the left hand side.

Disable Startup Programs

Is it really necessary for Skype, GTalk, Spotify, DropBox, and 15 other programs to automatically load when you start up your computer. Personally, I disable all of these items and prefer to start them up when I actually use them on my computer.

This is probably one of the areas where you can save the most time when booting up. I’ve gone from 1 to 2 minutes for my desktop to load to just under 30 seconds after disabling all kinds of crap.

Of course, don’t turn off anything you don’t understand or that looks like a Windows system process, but it’s ok to disable stuff from Adobe, HP, Apple, etc, etc.

Update Drivers and BIOS

Updating the software that interacts with your hardware is also important. It’s a good idea to update the BIOS every 6 months or so and to update the drivers for your hardware.

It doesn’t take much time and you normally don’t run into very many problems with driver updates. If you do, you can always go to Last Known Good Configuration.

Install More RAM

RAM is essential to every computer ever made, regardless of operating system. The more you have, the better your system will run. RAM is pretty cheap nowadays, so if you can get 4 GB to 8GB of RAM instead of 1 or 2 GB, you will see a huge difference, especially when working inside the operating system.

Install an SSD Drive

Last, but most important, is to install an SSD (Solid Start Drive). They are relatively new and a lot more expensive, but well worth the price.

Again, you only need a SSD for your operating system (system partition), which normally doesn’t need any more than 128 or 256 GB or space. Everything else, like your data, you can move to a secondary hard drive.

You will see massive improvements in boot time and startup time if you install an SSD. You can pick up a 120 GB from Best Buy for around $240. By no means cheap, but if you really want a fast machine, this is the way to do it.

Any other suggestions that you have tried on your own system that has increased performance? If so, let us know in the comments! Enjoy!

Comments [1]

  1. winwolf says:

    Great article. I have a few questions, first the details of my system:

    I have a laptop with both an SSD as well as an HDD which has its own a RAM cache (Seagate 250GB/4GB Solid State Hybrid SATA HD). I put the HDD in the bay where the DVD drive usually resides. I just added RAM so I’ve gone from 4GB to 8GB on Win7 SP1 on a quad core Lenovo T510.

    I’ve got all of my active documents and the program files on the SSD, use the HDD for everything else: photos, music, .pst files, etc.

    I’ve noticed when I listen to music I get drop outs, and when I type there are occasional lags and sometimes a key press will lag and then display 10-20 of the same character. All my drivers are updated.

    I’ve got perfmon running to monitor page faults, cache faults and Disk queue lengths, and it looks spiky to me, at least. I use Microsoft Security Essentials, which generates lots of disk activity and shows high page fault resolution times in LatencyMon when MSE real-time monitoring is on, but while page fault res drops with real-time monitoring turned off, the symptoms (music drop outs, etc,) still occur.

    I’ve scanned my machine to death with various A/V scanners. I figured when I increased RAM from 4 to 8 gig that would solve the problem, but it hasn’t. I also cleared up some extra free space on the SSD drive, which was close to full. I’ve read that SSD drives lose their extreme speed over time (related to the need to erase pages before re-writing to them, whereas pages are all ready when a drive is new). I typically have 5-10 apps open at once, and lots of browser windows so I do hammer my system vs. just email and word processing.

    Right now my drives are full as follows:

    C: (SSD): capacity 107 GB, used 84.4, free 23.1

    D: (HDD): cap 232, used 220, free 12.7

    First, should I enable write caching on the SSD (it’s enabled now)? Or is that not necessary given it’s an SSD? What about the HDD, which has the RAM cache? I know enough not to defrag the SSD.

    Should I move the page file to the HDD? Will the HDD RAM cache help or hurt that? Or is it better for the paging file to be on the SSD anyway, due to its faster speed overall?

    Should I move some of the program files directories to the D: drive (HDD), or are those directories considered part of “the system”? I’ve not installed anything on the D: drive since once in a while I may need to pull it out to use the DVD drive, but given that’s rare I could just make the HDD permanent and at least move those applications that are less “mission critical” (I know that means uninstall/reinstall).

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

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