Cast your mind back to the time you first used your PC. Remember how you marvelled at how fast it was, how it made the graceful transition from power on to a fully loaded Windows system in seconds? Does all this now seem a dim and distant memory? If you have time to make yourself a cup off tea while your PC chugs its weary way into Windows, then it's time to do a little corrective surgery.
When your PC is turned on, it has to go through a number of checks before it can start to load up your operating system and applications. While many of these checks are vital, some of them are either legacy or can be safely skipped, so if you can avoid them, things will receive a handy speed boost.
The first thing that happens when you depress the power button is that your PC carries out a Power On Self Test (POST). This is extremely important, as this is often your first indication that something is not right with your PC.
However, the next stage of the boot process is where the BIOS comes into play. The BIOS holds information about your hard drive, memory, processor, PCI slots and has to pass this information to the Operating System. While most people would prefer not to venture into the BIOS, if you leave it to its default settings, you could be wasting valuable seconds.
In order to make changes, you are going to have to go into the BIOS. To do this you need to press a key, which should be indicated on screen, usually DEL or F1. If you don't know which key you need to press, disconnect your keyboard and then start your PC - this will generate an error message and tell you which key to press.
Now every BIOS is slightly different, so we will have to generalise here, as while most settings will be available to you, they may come under different headings. One of the first things you will see is IDE or hard drive setup. In here it is best to change the settings to USER, rather than AUTO, providing you know the details for your drives. If you leave it to AUTO, the BIOS will interrogate the drive to find out its settings and wait for a response, which could take several seconds.
Secondly, if you have free channels, set these to NONE
- this will prevent the BIOS from looking for a drive and so speed the boot process up.
Hardly anyone uses their floppy disks anymore, so here's a few speed tips for you. Change your boot sequence to C:, CDROM, A:. This will prevent the BIOS from trying to boot from the floppy disk at startup, and instead will boot straight from hard disk. If you ever need to boot from floppy, it is simple to change the BIOS setting back. By default, when you start your PC, the BIOS will check to see what type of floppy disk you have installed. Find the option called Boot Up Floppy Seek and turn it off.
When your PC performs its POST a number of items are checked. To skip some of these checks enable Quick Power On Self Test. Make sure that both L1 and L2 cache are enabled: this will not only decrease boot times, it will improve the performance of your system. If your BIOS has a Turbo setting, try turning it on, you may see a 2-3% performance increase.
If you have a Plug and Play Operating System installed, such as Windows 9x, then turn this option on in the BIOS. This will then enable the OS to allocate resources, and so saves the BIOS from having to do it.
Lastly, turn off the ECC or parity checking for your Memory and CPU L2 cache - it's really not needed.
Of course, fiddling with your BIOS is only half the story, and the majority of your boot time is actually taken up with loading the OS and applications. Before you even get into Windows, there are a couple of tricks you can use to shave off another few seconds.
For starters, you can get rid of that animated Windows splash screen. To do this, you can use a program such as TweakAll, or X-Setup, or you can do it yourself by opening MSDOS.SYS and adding the line logo=0 to the options section. If you have any SCSI or network cards that are installed in your PC, but you don't use, then removing these will speed the boot process up. This is because Windows insists on scanning these devices, and isn't particularly quick doing it.
Once Windows has actually lumbered into life, you may have noticed that even though your desktop has appeared, your hard drive is still chugging away. One of the chief culprits is your Start directory, from which all manner of programs are loaded.
Go to your Start bar, Programs, StartUp and see what's in it. Do you need all those programs in there? Removing all the unnecessary clutter will speed things along.
However, not all applications that are loaded at startup are to be found in your startup directory. Some software is rather sneaky and is loaded from data held in the registry. To find out what is really loaded at startup, run msconfig.exe (Windows 98 only). From here you can examine your AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, and Windows system files. You will also see a section on startup. Look down the list and untick anything that is not essential, making sure that you leave Scan Registry, Task monitor and System Tray ticked as these are essential.
Much as Microsoft hates to admit it, Windows 9x still runs on top of a DOS kernel, and within the boot process, some DOS files are used. The AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS are legacy files, in that they used to be needed, but are no longer essential and are basically hanging around like bored teenagers. While it's tempting to simply delete these files, in some cases they are actually needed, for instance if you want to use your CD in DOS mode. Many Antivirus programs also place a command line in your AUTOEXEC file, so that your Virus protection starts at the earliest possible moment. However, many of the lines in these files are redundant and can be safely removed. Here's some examples of what you might find in your AUTOEXEC.BAT:
C:\windows\command\Keyboard.sys, KEYB UK
- This line tells DOS you have a UK keyboard. Remove it unless you use DOS a lot.
MODE CON CODEPAGE PREPARE=((850) C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\EGA.CPI)
- This line sets up the number of rows and columns for the text console in DOS. It is totally unnecessary so delete it.
MODE CON CODEPAGE SELECT=850
- To do with the above line, once again delete it.
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 T4
- Sets up the resources for your soundcard. Unless you need sound in DOS, delete it.
- Part of the drivers for your CD drive. If you don't need your CD drive in DOS, delete this line.
DEVICE=C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\DISPLAY.SYS CON=(EGA,,1) - Tells DOS what type of display you have, get rid of it, you don't need it.
COUNTRY=044,850,C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\COUNTRY.SYS - Tells DOS that you are in the UK, works with Keyboard.sys. Once again, this can be deleted.
Device=c:\cdrom\cdrom.sys - DOS drivers for your CD drive, delete it if you don't need your drive in DOS.
If you are feeling very brave, you could even edit your WIN.INI and SYS.INI to remove any superfluous entries. If you don't have Windows 98, you can use Regedit, and delete the relevant keys. Find the Branch HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\ Windows\CurrentVersion\RUN and have a look at the entries. Simply delete any unwanted ones. Some programs such as AOL, ICQ and Real player also place icons in your System Tray, many of which are unnecessary. However, in most cases, if you right-click on the icons and choose Properties, you will find an option to stop it loading into the System Tray.
Do you ever use the Windows Scheduling agent? Not many people do, so open it up and go to the Advanced menu and click on Pause Task Scheduler.
Microsoft Office is another way to slow your system down. Get rid of Microsoft Office Startup from your Start Directory or registry and disable the Office toolbar. While we're at it, disable Fast Find, it will improve system performance.
The Quick Launch bar on the Task bar is a great way of launching applications with a single click. However, any icons that are located here have to be found from a particular area of the hard drive. It's actually somewhat faster to keep all your shortcuts on the desktop, although have too many and the screen redraw times will add to your troubles.
It seems obvious, and we mention it in almost every issue, but good file management and regularly defragging your hard drive will also make the world of difference.
The trouble with PCs today is that they are based on legacy systems. You'd be hard pushed to buy an ISA device anymore, unless you found it in the bargain bin at a computer fair, but many motherboards still have an ISA slot, as a 'just in case' option.
The trouble is that having an ISA slot on your motherboard will help to lengthen your PC's boot time, and reduce system performance. While some motherboards are now ISA free, it is not part of the current specifications. However, a number of new features are in place as part of the PC 2001 specification, including a number of systems to reduce boot times. This includes removing all legacy devices from the motherboard, including floppy disk, ISA, serial, parallel and PS/2 ports. POST time has to be seven seconds or less, including drive checking.
In addition to this many motherboards now have the facility to suspend to disk or suspend to RAM. This means that if you are using Windows 98 or Windows ME, you can shut your PC down, but the data you were last using is held in a special file on the hard disk, or in RAM. Then when you need to use the PC again, it comes out of hibernate mode, and you can pickup where you left off. This drastically reduces boot time, but does mean that your PC is still drawing some power in order to maintain your information.
In this day and age boot time isn't really an issue for most people. I know from the threads on uptime and asking if people switch their computers off at night that alot of people on here don't reboot their computer(s) for weeks to months at a time. I switch mine off at night if it isn't being used for a task and start it up in the morning as I go grab a drink or food or whatever so that it's always at the desktop when I'm ready to work. Boot time hasn't affected me in anyway for years.
Im sorry if the article is a little OLD,i just thought it deemed nice to spread it around to try and help others.....I know JAN is on ME which the article mentions and IM on 98se,so.........
I just deleted my MS OFFICE KEYS today since i dont have WORD or any other MS "Office" products,speeding up my computer is essential!!!! I also deleted some "InfoTip" keys associated with Some desktop icons as they werent coming up anyway,so....