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Windows 10: Speed up startup times with these tricks

One of the more frustrating things for a computer user is long startup times. You know the routine -  you press your computer's power button, it springs to life, but it takes several minutes before you can even take full control.

You twiddle your thumbs, tap letters on your keyboard, move the cursor around with your mouse, but nothing is clickable. For your patience, Windows rewards you with the loading spinning wheel that looks just as excited as you are to move things along.

Before you start banging on your keyboard or thinking about chucking your computer to the nearest recycle bin, I'll show you three tricks that should help you speed up your startup times.

1. Enable fast startup

Compared to older versions, Windows 10 has optimized its start-up routines for better performance. One new feature that contributes to speedier boot times is Fast Startup.

Fast Startup is a more efficient version of Hibernate. With this feature enabled, every time it shuts down, Windows 10 will save the loaded kernels and drivers to an image file named the hiberfile. When the system reboots, it just reloads this file instead of searching and reloading the kernel and drivers again. This significantly improves the boot times so make sure it is enabled.

Fast Startup is enabled by default with fresh Windows 10 installations, but to check it manually, here are the steps:

  1. Search for "Power Options" on the start menu search bar and open it
  2. On the "Power Options" window, click "Choose what power buttons do"
  3. Go to "Change settings that are currently unavailable"
  4. Scroll down to "Shutdown settings" and check "Turn on fast startup" to enable it

Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 11.36.28 AM

2. Manage startup items

As you install and accumulate more and more applications, your startup times get impacted too. Why? That's because some of these programs are set to launch automatically when Windows starts. This creates a bottleneck as these startup applications take turns to launch. As your computer processes this launch information, Windows waits for all of these programs to finish their routines before relinquishing control.

On Windows 10 (or 8.1), there's a quick way to check and manage your startup items. They're conveniently listed on a Task Manager tab.

To check your startup items:

  1. Open Task Manager. Do this by right-clicking on an empty space on the taskbar then selecting "Task Manager." You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
  2. On the Task Manager window, go to the Startup tab.
  3. The Startup tab will list all your startup items with their name, publisher, status and startup impact.
  4. Review each item carefully and right-click and select Disable on programs that you don't want to auto-start.

Before you start disabling all of your startup items, there are a few things to consider. You may want to leave anti-virus, security and backup software on auto-start to be on the safe side. Other startup items that may require auto-start are hardware-related software and cloud-syncing services (if you rely on services like Dropbox or OneDrive.)

Don't worry if you uncheck a startup item in the Task Manager by accident, you are not uninstalling the program and you can always go back and undo any changes you've made.

For more advanced startup tweaking, try a third-party startup manager like Autoruns. This program extends beyond what the Task Manager Startup tab shows you since it also lists hidden Windows services and drivers. Be careful when disabling startup items with this program though because it's designed more for advanced users. Inadvertently unchecking a program may cause even more startup issues. If you are not comfortable with the cryptic names and registry settings that Autoruns provide, just stick with the Task Manager.

Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 3.44.38 PM

3. Delay your startup applications

Screen Shot 2016-09-28 at 3.56.48 PM

Photo Credit: R2 Studios

Another trick you can try is to delay or stagger your startup programs with another third-party program like Startup Delayer.

With Startup Delayer, you can delay any listed startup program automatically or with a set time. This way, you can have all your startup programs launch automatically, but instead of trying to load all at once, you can prioritize what should load first.

As I mentioned earlier, security software and hardware drivers should load first, then anything goes according to your preference. I recommend staggering heavy impact startup programs you'd wish to keep with different delay times.

Preventing overloading the system by freeing up boot up resource cycles while Windows is initializing, you should be able to control your computer sooner and start with your tasks right away.

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