Tweaking your system startup/booting

Though with each successive release of Windows operating systems Microsoft do their best to lower the time it takes to start your PC after a while it will tend to slow down a bit as more Applications get set to load at Startup unnecessarily, whether you wanted them to or not.

This guide will take you through configuring Windows 9x, Me, 2000 & XP to load as quickly as possible & also have the benefit of loading with more memory available for use.

Since most of the more recent versions of Microsoft Windows are covered on this article, we recommend Win9x and ME users to keep reading, while Win2k and XP users will want to skip some of the info that follows and go directly here, where their OSes are covered. The third part of the article covers general/miscellaneous settings that should work for all of the OSes aforementioned.

 

Start menu

The first place to look for items being loaded is the Start Menu, this goes for all Operating Systems.

Click on Start, Programs then the Startup folder. Right click on & Delete any items that are unnecessary to load at Startup. Unfortunately not every Application that is to be initiated at Startup gets displayed here. There are several ways that these Applications can be found & disabled & the rest of the guide will cover this on an OS specific basis to account for differences that exist.

 

Windows 9x

Click on Start, Run type in msconfig & hit Enter. Now select the General tab. This tab contains a few bootup minimizing options.

The first thing you should do is set the Startup selection type to Selective startup & Untick Process Config.sys/Autoexec.bat/Winstart.bat file. At this stage you should be getting over DOS & other such legacy support. Though should you require DOS Drivers or some other environmental parameters to be loaded on your system then be sure to leave the appropriate .bat file option Ticked.

Should you have left any of the .bat options Ticked use the Config.sys & Autoexec.bat tab to delete all unnecessary statements. If you have neither the Config.sys &/or Autoexec.bat options Ticked you should delete both the respective file from your root directory, e.g. C:\.

Now select the Startup tab.

For optimal bootup time Untick all unnecessary items listed here (With the exception of SystemTray).

A good listing of Programs that may appear here can be found at this page. This should help you decide on what else you can Untick if you arenít too sure about some of them. Once you have finished this select Apply then hit Ok. You will need to Reboot your system for any changes to take effect. Further into the guide Iíll cover how to delete Unticked options from being displayed here altogether.

 

Windows Millennium Edition

Click on Start, Run type in msconfig & hit Enter. Now select the General tab. This tab contains a few bootup minimizing options.

In the General tab you should select Selective startup as your Startup selection & Untick the Load environmental variables setting. This will give both optimal boot time & system performance. Now select the Startup tab.

For optimal bootup time Untick all unnecessary items listed here (With the exception of SystemTray).

A good listing of Programs that may appear here can be found at this page. This should help you decide on what else you can Untick if you arenít too sure about some of them. Once you have finished this select Apply then hit Ok. You will need to Reboot your system for any changes to take effect. Further into the guide Iíll cover how to delete Unticked options from being displayed here altogether.

msdos.sys & system.ini

Available in Windows 9x & Millennium Edition, both of these files contain many settings that can affect how Windows boots up. With some options effecting loading time & others useful for avoiding potential compatibility problems.

First youíll need to ensure these files can be accessed easily. Click on Start, Settings, Control Panel & open the Folder Options applet. Select the View tab & select Show hidden files and folders & Untick Hide protected operating system files. Hit Apply then the Ok button.

Now open the root directory of where Windows is installed. This should be C:\ for basically everyone. Right click on msdos.sys & select Properties. Untick the Read-only file attribute & click on Apply (You can leave this file property box open as youíll need to use it again soon). Again, right click on msdos.sys & select Open with then select a Text editor to open it Ė Notepad will do just fine though.

[Paths]. None of the lines in the [Paths] section should need to be modified. Basically just ignore them.

 

[Options]. In this section a whole load of settings can be added. NOTE Ė Do not delete the ;xxx lines, as noted in the description. Commands which are being added can be inserted beneath or above the ; lines & are as follows:

AutoScan=x. NOTE - This setting can only be used in Windows 95 SR 2 or later (This shouldnít be a problem for anyone now, hopefully). x sets how Scandisk is used after a bad shutdown, e.g. after a power failure. A setting of 0 for x sets that Scandisk is not run. A value of 1 for x gives a user prompt before running Scandisk. A value of 2 for x does not prompt the user before running Scandisk but prompts you before fixing errors if any errors are found. Iíd recommend leaving this set to 1 or 2 to check no errors occurred on your hard drive after a bad shutdown.

BootDelay=x. x specifies the amount of time, in seconds, the Starting Windows message is displayed before Windows 95 continues loading. For optimal boot time set this to 0. NOTE - This setting is not supported in Windows 98/Me & should be deleted if you have Windows 98/Me installed & had previously added this.

BootSafe=x. A setting of 1 for x will force Windows 9x/Me to boot into Safe mode every time you boot up. Leave this set to 0 at all times.

BootGUI=x. A setting of 1 enables the loading of the GUI interface (Windows 9x/Me). A setting of 0 disables the loading of the GUI interface (Instead loads a DOS command prompt). Leave this set to 1.

BootKeys=x. A setting of 1 enables the use of keyboard keys boot options (F4 - F8, SHIFT & CTRL). A setting of 0 disables the use of these keys during the boot process. NOTE - Setting BootKeys=0 effectively disables the BootMenuDelay=x setting.

BootMenuDefault=x. Use this setting to set the default menu item for startup. Set x to 1 if the system is running normally, or 3 if the system locked-up previously.

BootMenu=x. A setting of 0 disables the Startup menu. You should set this to 1 if you want to be able to choose to load in Safe mode, DOS prompt or boot Windows normally. This is useful if you need to troubleshoot. If set to 0, then you have to press the F8 key when the Starting Windows 95 messages appears in Windows 95 or Press & hold the CTRL key in Windows 98 in order to load the Startup menu.

BootMenuDelay=x. x sets the amount of time, in seconds, the Startup Menu is displayed before loading the Default option. NOTE - This option is ignored if BootMenu=0.

BootMenuDefault=x. x selects the Default choice for the Startup Menu, when set to 1 the Normal option is the Default. Depending on the Options available in your Startup Menu x can be a value from 1 - 8.

BootMulti=x. A setting of 0 disables the Multi-boot option. A setting of 1 enables the F4 key to be used to boot your previous Operating System. Obviously, this may only useful if you have more than 1 Operating System installed.

BootWarn=x. A setting of 0 for x disables the display of the safe mode boot warning message & the Startup menu. A value of 1 will display the warning.

BootWin=x. A setting of 1 enables Windows 9x/Me to load at Boot up. A setting of 0 disables Windows 9x/Me as your default Operating System (This is only really useful if you prefer MS-DOS, still).

DoubleBuffer=x. A setting of 1 for x enables double buffering for controllers that need it, e.g. SCSI controllers. A setting of 2 for x enables double buffering regardless of whether it is needed or not. A setting of 0 disables double buffering regardless of whether it is needed or not. Iíd recommend setting this to 0, unless you use SCSI hardware, in which case set this to 1/2.

DBLSpace=x. If you wish to use DoubleSpace compression (DBLSPACE.BIN) then set x to 1, otherwise leave it set to 0. Remember, using drive compression will lower system performance.

DRVSpace=x. If you wish to use DriveSpace compression (DRVSPACE.BIN) then set x to 1, otherwise leave it set to 0. Remember, using drive compression will lower system performance.

 

NOTE - If you do not intend to use either Double/Drive Space disk compression then you can delete the DRVSPACE.BIN & DBLSPACE.BIN files as they will not be needed.

LoadTop=x. A setting of 0 for x disables Windows from loading COMMAND.COM & DRVSPACE.BIN/DBLSPACE.BIN at the top 640K of memory (Conventional memory), a setting of 1 enables this. Iíd recommend leaving this set to 0.

Logo=x. A setting of 0 disables the Windows logo from being displayed, while 1 enables it to be displayed. For optimal boot time set this to 0.

Network=x. A setting of 1 for x Adds Safe mode with Network Support as an option to the Windows 9x/Me Startup Menu. A setting of 0 disables this.

WinVer=x. x displays the version number of the Operating System installed, e.g. If Windows Me is installed this should be 4.90.3000. You shouldnít need/want to change this at all.

Save the changes you have made & close your text editor. Using the file properties window Tick the Read-only attribute again & then select Apply & hit Ok.

Now click on Start, Run, type in system.ini & hit Enter. You can Add/Edit these lines into the [386Enh] section. There is only really 1 option here which can effect System Startup.

EMMExclude=A000-FFFF. This setting will disable Windows from scanning UMA (Upper Memory Area) for unused RAM at startup. This is recommended for compatibility purposes also. Save the changes & exit.

 

Windows 2000

Click on Start, Run, type in boot.ini & hit Enter (Should this fail manually locate & open the boot.ini in your bootable partition).

Find the line with Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional in it. It should appear something like this - multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect.

To disable the logo add the following command to it /noguiboot. A space should be left before adding this in, i.e. after modifying that entry it should appear as follows (Or similar) multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional" /fastdetect /noguiboot. NOTE - This will also disable any error messages from appearing while loading Windows 2000 also, e.g. if a Hardware device causes a STOP error you will not be able to see what is causing it.

 

Windows 2k/XP

Click on Start, Run type in msconfig & hit Enter. Now select the BOOT.INI tab. This tab contains a few bootup minimizing options.

Timeout. This setting specifies how many seconds a list of Operating Systems are displayed before loading the default one. This setting is only of any use if you are Dual-Booting (Or greater) Windows XP with some other Operating System & have XP selected as the default Operating System to load. Reduce/Increase this value as you feel appropriate.

/NOGUIBOOT. Ticking this option will disable displaying the Windows XP logo during bootup, which should improve loading time slightly, which is highly recommended. NOTE - This will also disable any error messages from appearing while loading Windows, e.g. if a Hardware device causes a STOP error you will not be able to see what is causing it.

You should ignore the Services tab. Should you wish to not have Services loading then check the Windows XP Services Guide for more detailed information.

Now select the Startup tab.

For optimal bootup time Untick all unnecessary items listed here.

A good listing of Programs that may appear here can be found at this page. This should help you decide on what else you can Untick if you arenít too sure about some of them. Once you have finished this select Apply then hit Ok. You will need to Reboot your system for any changes to take effect.

To remove disabled items completely from msconfig, click on Start, Run, type in regedit & hit Enter. Open the following registry key, [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig\startupreg\]. Expanding the startupreg folder will reveal a further listing of folders which will be named after items in the System Configuration Utility.

Deleting these folders will remove the item altogether from being displayed (& also disable the Msconfig reminder appearing after Windows XP has loaded). You should do this only after you have verified you donít require the item to be launched during Startup.

 

Bootvis

Microsoft has developed a utility that will optimize (minimize) the startup & resume time of Windows XP. Download now from Microsoft. Once downloaded & extracted, load Bootvis.exe.

Select Trace then Next Boot + Driver Delays.

Adjust any of the settings here if you see necessary. Personally Iíd just leave them at their defaults (As shown) & hit the Ok button.

Once rebooted & Bootvis has relaunched select Trace then Optimize System. Your PC will reboot again now & once more Bootvis will launch one final time to optimize your PCs startup & resume time.

 

All OSes

In case the title didnít give it away, this remaining section applies to Users of all Operating Systems. To be on the safe side you should backup your existing registry now. In Windows 9x/Me click on Start, Run type in scanregw & hit Enter, when prompted confirm that you wish to backup the registry. In Windows 2000/XP click on Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools then Backup. Select the Welcome tab then Emergency Repair Disk (Backup Wizard in XP).

Click on Start, Run, type in regedit & hit Enter. Open the following key  [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run] (The programs listed here are loaded at every users startup). The other Run keys - Run-, RunOnce (Only run at the next System boot up, & never again), RunOnceEx, RunServices (Services run at System boot up before User logon) & RunServicesOnce (A Service to be run at System boot up before User logon, then never again) should also be checked for programs. NOTE Ė Some of the listed registry keys here may not be available in Windows 2000/XP.

You should also check [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run] (& Run-, Runonce). Delete any unnecessary or duplicated entries by comparing with msconfig (Windows 9x/Me/XP) you can delete any Unticked items. Be careful not to delete entries that are Ticked in msconfig as this will disable them from loading at Startup. NOTE Ė This key only contains program startup options related to the Current logged on user. Deleting items here will also remove them from being displayed in msconfig.

Once again, for a great listing of Programs that can be loaded at Startup Check out this page. This should help you decide on what else you can Delete if you arenít too sure about some of them. Once you have finished this close regedit. You will need to Restart your system for any changes to take effect.

As you can see, using regedit you can clean the programs listed in the Startup tab, e.g. from the original list of several programs Msconfig now only displays 1.

 

Conclusion

By now you should have successfully configured your system for an optimal boot time & initially reduced memory usage as a result. Windows 2000/XP Users would also be well advised to check out our Windows 2000 & Windows XP Services Guide which will take you through configuring the Services to minimize the amount of Services loading, which reduces boot time & memory usage, as well as better securing your system. You should also take a check through our BIOS Guide & Other OS Guides to further optimize your system. If youíre having any problems check out our Forums for a quick response.


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