Last updateSun, 09 Apr 2017 3pm

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Long Time to Start Computer

Generally, most computers take between one to three minutes to boot to a ready state before you can do your computer stuff. If your computer is new, you will notice the good boot times.

However, as you add programs and do more with your computer over time, you may experience computer performance issues.

There are factors that can degrade your boot times.

  1. Your hard drive is full
  2. Not enough memory
  3. You have too many resident programs (exp. Messengers, office ready start, backup solution, multiple security solutions, calendar sync apps, etc) loaded into memory and running background
  4. Your system may be compromised with a virus
  5. Your hard drive is failing
  6. Leaving your computer on all the time
  7. The registry is messy

What can you do to protect your system?

There are computers out there that can start in less than 10 seconds. Imagine that! There are options when you buy with your new computer to have hybrid drives (SSHD) or solid state drives (SSD) instead of the standard 7,200 rpm (typical for towers) or 5,400 rpm (typical for laptops) drives. SSHD can boot in about 15 to 30 seconds and SDD can be less that 10 seconds. The boot times are assumed to have just about 6 to 12 resident programs loaded during boot. There are cost factors and sizes to consider. SSHD is about $20 or so more than regular hard drives for 500 GB. SDD is about $0.70 to $1.00 per gigabyte but the current size limit is 250 GB (cost about $175 to $250). Before you go off buying a new computer or upgrading your hard drive, continue with your reading.

As computers age, they generally tend to slow down for various reasons. You're in luck, though. There are plenty of nifty solutions and tools to help improve your boot times. It might not get you to "like-new" computer speed, but you should notice signification improvement.

Let's get started.

  1. First and most common, check your hard drive.
    • To get there - Start the Windows Explorer then right click on the C drive to get a pop up menu and select “Properties”. You should get the used and free space information. Many times, you would see the Capacity graph that may be easier to view. Rule of Thumb – the operating system needs about 15% free space for swap file. Swap file is also referred to as page file or paging file that is used as a temporary location to store information that is not currently being used by the computer memory. This is considered as virtual memory. As swap file gets smaller, your computer will tend slow down where by your boot time will take longer.
    • Solution – Archive your data files that you do not use very often then remove these files from the hard drive. Consider uninstalling programs you do not need or want. Some computers you acquired have bundled programs you did not ask for. Uninstall them!
  2. You may need to add more memory.
    • To Check – Start your Task Manager from the start menu or task bar or hot keys on the keyboard. Go to the ‘Performance’ tab to see the CPU and memory usage. See if your memory usage is staying above 80% and/or frequently reach and stays at 100%. If so and your hard drive space is fine, then you may need to expand your memory.
    • Solution – Add more memory. If your memory slots on the mother board are populated, then you may have to replace the memory modules with larger sizes. Before you do, check with computer manufacturer to determine the maximum memory allow for that mother board in your computer.
  3. You have too many resident programs (exp. Messengers, office ready start, backup solution, multiple security solutions, calendar sync apps, etc) loaded into memory and running background.
    • To Check – Right after you boot your system and it looks done, start your Task Manager from the start menu or task bar or hot keys. Go to the ‘Process’ tab to see the list of process names (programs) that are associated with User Names. Click on the 'Memory' column name for descending sort. You will notice memory usage related to your user name and image name. The memory column will show physical member space it is using. Another way to look, is to go to your system tray on the bottom right for Windows and observe the loaded programs.
    • Solution – If you want to keep any of these programs and do not use some of these programs, then try to modify its configuration to not start on boot and launch that program when you need it. If you do not know how it got there and do not want it, uninstall the program.
  4. Your system may be compromised with a virus.
    • To Check – Start your Task Manager from the start menu or task bar or hot keys. Go to the ‘Process’ tab to see the list of process names. You may see something rather unusual. Viruses hold many forms to launch. You may need to do forensic.
    • Solution – Research the malware for removal solution. This may include searching for rootkits to remove and other tools to locate the malwares. Generally, you can download and install Malwarebytes and SuperAntispyware to scan for malware code and registry changes. Make sure you check for their definition updates before scanning. Definitions are a lengthy list of malwares and they generally change everyday.
  5. Your hard drive may be failing.
    • To Check – Dell and some other computer manufacturers have integrated diagnostic program. If not available on the system, then you can view the events in the 'Event Viewer' for Windows and look for related errors for disk drive messages indicating failing to write, or operating system functions failing to perform or other related anomalies. Many computer service people have diagnostic tools to test systems and hard drives.
    • Solution – Backup all desire data files as soon as possible. You may desire and need to start your computer in safe mode for simple operating system functions to allow quicker backup. Then replace the hard drive and reinstall the operating system.
  6. Leaving your computer on all the time.
    • To Check – Recall the last time you booted your computer.
  7. The registry is messy.
    • To Check – Make note if you have been adding and removing programs. Is your Windows running slow and nothing else helped to improve your computer performance? Are you experiencing Window or program crashes? Some programs leave residue in the registry. You may notice programs and processes timing out before continuing to the next process during the boot.
    • Solution – Acquire major and known registry cleaner tools such as CCleaner, Regtool, PC Tools Registry Mechanic, RegCure, and more. Recommend not using free registry tools since they may be pre-release to get feedback or may be malicious.