Remember those old tube TVs that took minutes to warm up after you turned on the power? How about dial-up modems that took half a minute to connect to the Internet? In the age of fast-booting TVs and always-connected Internet, you probably don't miss the waiting.
However, when it comes to waiting there's one bit of technology that's gone backwards. Two decades ago in the time of DOS, you could turn on your computer and it would be ready to go in what seemed like no time. Now you turn on a computer and you're waiting for minutes to even get to Windows, and then you wait a few more minutes for the computer to be ready to use. But it doesn't have to be that way if you follow these three steps.
1. Trim your startup items
Before we get going, we should explain why computers take forever to start, and why they get worse over time. When your computer starts, it's moving information from your slow hard drive, or "storage," to the much faster RAM, also called "memory."
The more information that your computer has to move, the longer your computer takes to start. And as your computer ages, more information builds up. So, unless you want to upgrade to faster hardware (more on that later), the trick is to reduce the amount of information it has to move.
The best way to do this is to stop programs from loading automatically at startup. Many programs on your computer are set to automatically run right away, but most don't have to.
To stop these programs from running automatically, go to Start>>All Programs>>Startup. Anything that is in this folder will start when your computer turns on. Delete unimportant program icons from this folder by right-clicking and choose "Delete."
Note: Deleting an icon from the Startup folder won't remove the program from your computer. So, you won't mess up anything if you delete something important.
That isn't the only place startup programs are found. You can use a program like Autoruns to find another list of startup items and disable the ones that aren't important. Autoruns tells you exactly what each program does, and it knows enough not to disable essential startup programs like your security software. Trust us; security software is well worth the time it takes to load.
2. Delay resource hogs
There are some programs that you might want to start up automatically, but that don't need to run right away. Programs like Startup Delayer will start up these programs one by one, instead of all at once. This won't make the individual programs load faster, but it will take strain off your system so you can use programs sooner. Just be sure your security software is the first thing that runs.
3. Upgrade your hardware
A new computer is naturally going to start up faster because it has faster hardware, and a clean operating system. However, you may not have the money to upgrade. There is a middle ground.
As we said above, computer startup is slow because you're moving information from a slow hard drive to faster RAM. Trimming information is one way to solve the problem, but the other side of the equation is to get a faster hard drive.
A solid-state drive is much faster than a conventional computer hard drive, plus it's generally more reliable. Unfortunately, it's more expensive and holds less data. Click here to learn more about the costs and benefits of solid-state drives.
That's changing, however. You can buy a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD for less than $100. That's more than enough to hold most people's information. And if you have more data than that, you can store it on a larger conventional hard drive.
This author put an SSD in his computer with six year-old components and startup times when from 2 minutes to 30 seconds. Plus, once Windows starts, it's usable right away. A newer Windows 10 computer with an SSD can start in as little as 10 seconds.
If you're buying a new computer, many models now offer SSDs as an optional extra. For those on the go, or who need blazing fast start times, definitely give it a look.
Bonus: Don't shut down
OK, this is kind of a cop out, but no one says you have to shut down your computer at night. In fact, it's one of the computer myths we've debunked in the past.
Leaving your computer on means that it's always ready to go. If you're worried about the electricity use, you can use Sleep or Hibernate modes. These use very little electricity, but your computer is ready much faster than a full boot. Click here to learn more about power-saving modes and how they can improve your life and electric bill.
If you're using Windows 8 or 10, however, you don't have to worry about this so much. Windows 8 actually uses Sleep mode by default when you "shut down." This is another reason Windows 8 and 10 computers generally have faster start times than Windows 7 and Vista computers.