Stopping Unneeded Startup Services
Along with the core operating system and programs that Windows XP runs when it starts, there is also a host of services involved. Many of these services are necessary for Windows XP to operate correctly. However, many of them are for features in Windows XP that you may not use at all. You can peruse the services and disable any service that you do not want to run. The fewer services that run, the more quickly Windows XP will boot.
Exercise caution when stopping services. If you do not know what a service does or are unsure of the ramifications of stopping the service, leave it alone. Some services are critical to Windows XP's operations, so make sure you understand what the service is before you disable it.
You can stop a service from starting by simply clearing the check box next to the service and clicking OK. However, before you do so, there is another way to disable services that you may prefer because the interface gives you more information about the service in question.
I prefer to use the Services console instead of the System Configuration Utility because it describes what the service does. Additionally, you can double-click a service and examine its properties.
Notice the Startup Type column in Figure 4-2. This information lists whether the service is automatic or manual. Manual services are only started in Windows XP when you start a process that requires the service. Some other process may require the service that has a "dependency" relationship with it; in this case, the dependency service will start, as well. Because these services do not start automatically when you boot Windows XP, you do not need to do anything with manual services.
However, all services listed as automatic start when Windows XP boots. These are the services that increase boot time. As I have mentioned, many of them are necessary and important, so you should not stop automatic services from booting unless you are sure of the ramifications. You can get this information by looking at the Description column. Here's a quick look at common services you may want to live without:
Notice that on the General tab, you see a Startup Type drop-down menu. If you want to change an automatic service to manual, select Manual here and click OK. As a general rule, don't disable a service unless you are sure you will never use it. However, manual configuration allows the service to be started when you find it necessary, thus speeding up your boot time.
Keep in mind that services are necessary for the vast functionality you get with Windows XP. Change only those services that you understand and do not use. How you use your Windows XP computer should be the best guide in terms of optional startup services.
The Indexing service and the System Restore service take up a lot of disk space and system resources across the board. You can live without the Indexing service but I suggest that you keep using System Restore. It works great when you are in a bind and this is one case where the loss of speed may not be worth the ramifications of not using System Restore.
Speed Tips and Tricks for Windows XP Startup
Aside from startup programs, services, and the Prefetch folder, there are a number of other startup procedures and issues you can modify to help Windows XP start faster. The following sections explore those tips and tricks.
Manual IP Addressing on Small Office/Home Networks
Windows XP is configured to help you take care of networking. It uses the TCP/IP protocol for networking in workgroups, or what you might call small office or home networks that do not use a dedicated server.
The problem is that automatic IP addressing can be slow. When your computer boots, it has to query the network to see what IP addresses are already in use and then assign itself one. If you want to speed up the boot time a bit, consider manually assigning IP addresses to all computers on the network. This way, the network computers do not have to worry about locating an automatic IP address. Because one is manually configured, the operating system doesn't have to spend time solving this problem.
This isn't a networking book, however, so I won't delve into the implications of using a manual IP address, but if you are using a computer that functions as a host computer to the Internet (using Internet Connection Sharing [ICS]), you can get into connectivity problems if you change the configuration of the IP address. However, you can still work around this problem by starting with the ICS host computer.
Select Start/Connect To/Show All Connections. Right-click your network adapter card and click Properties. On the General tab, select TCP/IP in the list of services and click the Properties button.
Make sure you understand the implications of changing IP addresses on your network. If you have no networking experience at all, you may be wiser to leave the automatic IP addressing as is and try to gain some speed using the additional suggestions in this chapter.
Disabling Recent Documents History
Windows XP includes a feature that keeps track of all recent documents you have opened or used. The idea is that you can select Start/Recent Documents History and quickly reopen any document you have recently used. I use many documents each day and never use the feature myself. In my opinion, I can keep up with what I want to use without Windows XP doing it for me.
The bad thing about Recent Documents History is that Windows XP has to calculate what should be put there each time you boot Windows, which can slow things down. So, if you never use the Recent Documents History, it's a good idea to disable it. Here's how:
1. Open the Registry Editor (select Start/Run, type regedit, and click OK).
2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer.
3. Create a NoRecentDocsHistory D_WORD key. Double-click the value to open it once it is created.
4. Set the Data Value to 1 to enable the restriction.
5. Click OK and close the Registry Editor. You'll need to restart the computer for the change to take effect.
Disabling the Boot Logo
You can remove the boot logo that appears when you start Windows XP. This little tweak probably shaves only a few seconds off your boot time but seconds count if you are serious about trying to get Windows XP up and running as quickly as possible. The only negative is that if you remove the boot logo, you will also not see any boot messages, such as check disk. (But if you are not having problems with your computer, this isn't such a big deal.)
To remove the boot logo, follow these steps:
1. Select Start/Run, type msconfig, and click OK.
2. In the System Configuration Utility, click the BOOT.INI tab.
Removing Unwanted Fonts
One trick that increases your boot time a bit is to lose any fonts in the Fonts folder in Control Panel that you never use. The more fonts you have, the more processing Windows XP has to do to prep all of those fonts for use. You must be a bit careful here to not remove fonts that you might want, but there is a good chance that you can live without many of them. For instance, you may have foreign language fonts and other symbol fonts (such as Wingdings) that you never use.
To delete unneeded fonts, follow these steps:
1. Open the Fonts folder in Control Panel.
2. Select Edit/Select All and then Edit/Copy.
3. Create a new folder on your desktop, open it, and select Edit/Paste.
4. In this new folder, delete any of the fonts you do not want.
5. Return to the Fonts folder in Control Panel. Right-click the selected fonts and click Delete.
6. Go back to your new desktop folder and click Edit/Select All.
7. Return to your Fonts folder and click Edit/Paste. You now have only the desired fonts in the Fonts folder.
Tip: You can directly delete fonts from the Fonts folder without creating the secondary folder. However, I recommend the preceding steps to help ensure that you do not make a mistake in the deletion process.
Stopping Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop Sharing
In Windows XP Professional, you have two remote networking features called Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop Sharing. These remote networking features are very helpful in a variety of situations but if you don't use them, it is good idea to disable them to save boot time. You can always enable them later if you want to use them.
Note: If you are interested in using Remote Desktop or Remote Assistance, see my book Windows XP for Power Users: Power Pack published by John Wiley & Sons.
1. Open the Start menu, right-click My Computer, and choose Properties.
2. Click the Remote Tab.
3. Clear both check boxes to disable Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop (see Figure 4-7)
Updating Device Drivers
One thing that can slow down your boot time is old device drivers. If you are using a newer computer that came preconfigured with Windows XP, you can skip this section. But if you are using older hardware that you have manually installed with the manufacturer's device drivers, it is a good idea to locate the manufacturer's Web site and see if there are any updated drivers for the hardware.
Windows XP tries very hard to be backwards-compatible with older hardware so older drivers will often work. However, older drivers tend to slow things down across the board, including the time required to boot the system. The only way you can update older drivers is to download newer drivers that the manufacturer of the device may make available on the Web. You'll have to do a bit of detective work and see if you can locate any newer drivers that can be installed. It's worth the time, though, because drivers written for Windows XP simply perform better than drivers for older versions of Windows.
Stopping Windows Messenger in Outlook Express 6
If you are using Outlook Express 6, Windows Messenger is configured to start when Windows XP starts and run in the background. That's fine if you use it, but if you don't you waste boot time and background resources because Windows Messenger is always around. You can stop this behavior, however, and save your self a little startup time by following these steps:
1. Open Outlook Express 6.
2. Select Tools/Windows Messenger/Options.
3. Click the Preferences tab.
4. On the Preferences tab, clear the "Allow this program to run in the background" check box (see Figure 4-8) and click OK
Speeding Up Logons to Windows Domains
Although not technically a part of the boot process, one thing that can slow down your startup time is logging onto a Windows domain. If you do not connect to a Windows domain, you can skip this section. If you do and you notice that logging on seems to take forever, there is a simple explanation. Windows XP attempts to load up networking components asynchronously during startup. Although you can log on using cached credentials instead of waiting for a domain controller to log you on, this feature may greatly slow down your logon process to the network. You'll see your desktop more quickly but you'll have to wait longer to use the network. If you change this setting, your boot time will take longer. But at least once you log on you won't have to wait for the networking services to load. You can stop this behavior by changing a Group Policy setting on your computer.
Follow these steps:
1. Log on as the local computer administrator and select Start/Run. Type gpedit.msc and click OK.
2. In the Group Policy editor, navigate to Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/System/Logon (see Figure 4-9).
3. Double-click "Always wait for the network at computer startup and logon."
4. Change the setting to Enabled (see Figure 4-10). Click OK and close the Group Policy console.
Speeding Up the Dual-Boot Timeout
If you dual-boot your computer with Windows XP and another operating system, you see an operating system selection menu on startup. If you typically boot into Windows XP and not the other operating system, you can speed up the dual-boot timeout value so that you do not wait so long for the boot process to select your default operating system and continue with the boot process. The default timeout value is 30 seconds but you can change this setting to 10. This gives you enough time to select the alternate operating system if you want but also speeds up the boot process. You can skip this section if you do not use a dual-boot configuration.
Follow these steps:
1. Locate the boot.ini file on your computer. It is a hidden file by default; mine is located in C:\boot.ini.
2. Open the file with Notepad (which is what opens it by default).
3. Change the Timeout value to 10 (see Figure 4-11).
4. Select File/Save and close Notepad.
Speeding Up Your PPPoE Connection
If you use a Point-to-Point Protocol connection over Ethernet (PPPoE), you may notice a delay in using the PPPoE connection after startup. By default, there is a 120 second delay but you can stop this behavior by manually configuring an IP address for the network adapter card. If you do not use a PPPoE connection, you can skip this section.
1. Select Start/Connect to/Show All Connections.
2. Open the TCP/IP properties for your LAN network interface card.
3. Manually set the IP address on the TCP/IP properties to an appropriate IP address and subnet mask for your network.
Editing the PC Setup Program
Each PC has a setup program that tells the computer how to start the operating system. We often think that speeding up the boot time means speeding up Windows XP. While that's true, the PC setup program also governs some of the items that occur when the computer starts—which you can speed up as well.
Typically, you can enter the PC setup program by starting the computer and holding down the Delete key. A different key may be used for your computer's setup program, so check your computer's documentation for additional details.
Once you are in the setup program, you may have to look around a bit. Each manufacturer uses different categories and names, but essentially you can wade through the menu options and find these three common features to change to decrease your startup time:
Quick Power on Self-Test: Set this option to Fast or Enabled, depending on your setup program. This change will result in skipped memory and hardware startup tests. Be aware that this setting might cause you to lose notice of a problem with RAM or the motherboard but, in most cases, you don't need this test anyway if your PC is operating without problems.
Floppy Search/Test: If your floppy disk drive is working fine, there is no reason to test it every time you start your computer. Change this setting to Disable.
IDE Drives: The setup program seeks to test and identify each IDE device as it boots. This is necessary but if you have IDE channels that are not in use, set this to None. If you do not understand this option, just leave it configured as it is.
Cleaning up the Registry and defragmenting the hard drive can also increase your boot time.
Disabling Unused Devices
If you have devices attached to your computer or installed that you do not use, you can reduce the startup time by disabling those devices. The rule to follow is to keep enabled any device that you use or might use, but if you have devices that you do not use on a regular basis, you can disable those devices without uninstalling. When you start the computer, those devices' drivers won't have to load, which will help decrease boot time.
To disable a device, follow these steps:
1. Open the Start menu, right-click My Computer, and select Properties.
2. Click the Hardware tab and click the Device Manager button.
3. Expand the category that contains the device that you want to disable.
4. Right-click the device and click Disable (see Figure 4-12). The device is now disabled and remains disabled until you re-enable it in the same manner.
If you poke around on the Internet a bit and search for ways to reduce your computer's boot time, you may find information about a BOOTVis utility. BOOTVis is a Microsoft- developed utility for system architects who design systems for faster boot times. According to Microsoft, many published reports on the Internet state that you can download the BOOTVis utility and run it on your PC to improve your boot time. However, Microsoft also states that the utility was not developed for this purpose and it will not increase the boot time in Windows XP because Windows XP already performs the routines that BOOTVis performs. In short, it is an Internet myth that BOOTVis can help you. Do not waste your time running this utility. Visit www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/sysperf/fastboot/bootvis.mspx to learn more about this.
Making Your Computer Shut Down More Quickly
The flip side of the boot-faster coin is a faster shutdown. There are a couple of quick issues you can check or change that will make Windows XP shut down more quickly.
Reducing the Wait Time
When you start to shut down Windows XP, it has to quit, or "kill," any live applications or processes that are currently running. So close all applications first. However, some applications and processes are always running in the background. You can reduce the amount of time that Windows XP waits for those applications and processes to close before Windows XP kills them. Edit three different Registry settings to change this:
1. Open the Registry Editor.
2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop. Select WaitToKillAppTimeout and set the value to 1000.
3. Select the HungAppTimeout value and set it to 1000 as well.
4. Navigate to HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Desktop. Set the WaitToKillAppTimeout and set the value to 1000. Select the HungAppTimeout \newline value and set it to 1000 as well.
5. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control. Select the WaitToKillServiceTimeout value and set it to 1000.
6. Close the Registry Editor.
Stopping the NVIDIA Driver
If you use an NVIDIA video card, there is a service that runs that seems to slow down boot time and, especially, shutdown time. The general consensus in the hardware community is that the service doesn't actually do anything, so you should disable it. Disabling the service should not affect the NVIDIA video card but it will help your computer shut down more quickly.
Follow these steps:
1. Open the Click Start menu, right-click My Computer, and select Manage.
2. In the Computer Management console that appears, expand Services and Applications and select Services to open the services window.
3. Locate and highlight the Nvidia Driver Helper service. Right-click it and select Properties.
4. Set the Startup Type drop-down box to Disabled.
5. Click OK and close the Computer Management console.
Automatically Killing Tasks on Shutdown
You know the drill. You start to shut down the computer, you wait a few moments, and then you see a dialog box asking if you want to kill an application or service that is running. Instead of prompting you, you can make Windows XP take care of the kill task automatically. Here's how:
1. Open the Registry Editor.
2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop.
3. Highlight the value AutoEndTasks and change the value to 1.
4. Close the Registry Editor.