I’m a ‘Fast’ PC

Boot up your computer with lightning speed with these nine tips from two Windows gurus.

Last week, my Dell Latitude D830 laptop running Windows Vista booted up in one long minute. Today, thanks to some tinkering, it boots up in 22 seconds. With that, I joined the 35 percent club.

Why 35 percent? Data from the Customer Experience Improvement Program shows that about 35 percent of Windows Vista SP1 systems boot in 30 seconds or less. With a little patience and willingness to tinker with your system, you can join the club, too.

Whether you’re running Windows Vista or you’re running the Windows 7 beta, we tracked down two true Windows Gurus, Bill Karagounis and Erik Lustig, who recommend these nine tips for speeding up your Windows boot time.

1. Slim Down Your Startup Group

Do you really need all those groovy gadgets to launch when you boot up?

“To be quite honest, Windows Sidebar can take quite a long time to start up,” Karagounis said. So think about slimming down your set of startup applications.

Click the Start button, type msconfig in the Start Search box, and then press ENTERto open the System Configuration dialog box. Click the Startup tab to see what applications are configured to launch at startup. Remember—you’re not removing the actual applications; you’re preventing them from launching when you boot up, and you can re-enable them if you need to. For example, I disabled Windows Sidebar, Adobe Acrobat, and Java platform functionality.

It is also a bad idea to have Outlook in your startup group. If you want a better overall startup experience, launch Outlook when you get to your desktop.

2. Update Your Drivers

Windows Update can help keep your drivers up to date. There can be a lag time, however, between the release of a Windows update and the release of a manufacturer’s driver update. If you’re keen to improve your boot time, consider an automatic or manual update.

John Swenson

John Swenson, a writer in the Windows group, demonstrates how to find drivers to make your hardware run lightning fast. Watch this video demo to learn how to set up Windows Update to automatically find and install missing or updated software drivers for your hardware.

3. Update Your BIOS

The BIOS (“basic input output systems”) is the set of essential software routines that test hardware at startup, start the operating system, and support the transfer of data among hardware devices.

“Some BIOS take two seconds, some take five to ten seconds,” Lustig said. “The overall end-to-end boot time can be affected by the overall BIOS. Ask your local techy to update your BIOS.”

4. Update Your Antivirus Software

The status of your antivirus software is typically displayed in Windows Security Center.

To open Windows Security Center, click the Start button, click Control Panel, click Security, and then click Security Center. Click Malware protection. If Windows can detect your antivirus software, it will be listed under Virus protection. If your software needs to be updated, click Update now.

5. Update Your Antimalware Software

If you don’t use scheduled scans or if you don’t get updates automatically, you should check for new definitions at least once a week. To help protect your computer, Windows Defender will notify you if your definitions are out of date for more than seven days.

To open Windows Defender, click the Start button, click All Programs, and then click Windows Defender. Click the arrow next to the Help button, and then click Check for Updates. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

6. Don’t Double Up on Antivirus Programs

“We’ve seen systems with multiple antivirus programs running at the same time; this is a really bad idea,” Karagounis said. If it’s a speedy boot time you crave, don’t run more than one antivirus or antimalware program.

7. Periodically Defrag

How often do you defrag? “In our experience, it doesn’t run often enough,” Karagounis said. He advises analyzing and defragmenting disks every two to four weeks.

To run the Disk Defragmenter, click the Start button, type Defrag in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.

8. Lose the Bloat on Your Machine

“Don’t install lots of likely unnecessary software just because it might look cool or be fun,” Lustig said. (One example: iTunes.)

9. Use Sleep and Resume

Windows lets you put your computer into an energy-saving mode called “sleep.” Why is this a good idea?

Booting up is hard on your machine. “Telemetry—automated, real-world feedback from consumers—tells us that sleep and resume cycles produce fewer errors and hangs than shutting down and rebooting,” Lustig said.

Using “sleep and resume” is not only easier on your system, but faster, too. The typical machine with good drivers can wake from slumber in two to five seconds.

“The vast majority of the time, I will use sleep. I tend to only use shutdown when I need to install an update that requires a restart,” Karagounis said.

To put your computer to sleep, press the power button, click the Sleep button on the Windows start menu, or, if you have a laptop, simply close the lid. Watch this short video demo to see how it’s done.

On most computers, you can resume working by pressing the power button. However, not all computers are the same. You may be able to wake your computer by pressing any key on the keyboard, clicking a mouse button, or opening the lid on a laptop.

Credit to Robin Dalmas for this useful article.  I hope it helps you be a ‘Fast’ PC!

Best wishes,