The great thing about tablets and smartphones is that they start up fast. But PCs? Not so much. The biggest issue with PCs is that most of us have too many programs that want to startup when the computer boots. Many of them do this by default meaning our boot times are littered with programs that want to be ready when you are.
If the startup time for your new, or new-ish, Windows PC has slowed to a crawl you might be able to fix it with just a little house cleaning. This tip will work with Windows 8.1, as well as Windows 10.
To get started right click on the Start button in the lower left corner. Then from the context menu that appears select Task Manager. Alternatively, you could tap Ctrl + Shift + Esc if you prefer keyboard shortcuts.
With the Task Manager open select the Startup tab. This is command central for all the programs that are starting when you boot into Windows. If your computer is anything like mine this will be a long list.
If you don’t see the Startup tab–or any tabs at all–then you may be running in simplified mode. At the bottom of the window click the More details option and you should see the tabs.
Editing your startup programs
The key to tinkering with the various startup programs is to understand what you need and what you don’t. In general, most items on this list can be turned off, but you may want to keep some running. If you have a graphics card, for example, it’s probably a good idea to leave any software related to that running. You also shouldn’t mess with anything that’s linked directly to other hardware on your PC–just to be on the safe side.
Personally, I leave the video game client Steam running so I can quickly jump into a game when I have a few minutes. If you use a service like Dropbox or Google Drive then that’s something you’ll want to leave alone as well. Though I disable both since most of my cloud syncing goes through Microsoft’s OneDrive.
Before we start disabling programs it’s a good idea to have a look through the whole list to see what’s there. The startup tab has four columns: “Name” (for the name of the program), “Publisher” (the company that made it), “Status” (Enabled or Disabled), and “Startup Impact” (None, Low, Medium, or High).
That last column–Startup Impact–is the most important. Look for any programs that have a “High” rating, because these are the programs that require the most computing resources at boot time. Next on the list are programs rated “Medium” and then “Low.”
Once you have a list of programs that are impacting your startup it’s time to start disabling. It’s at this point you may be thinking that you really, really need a particular program at startup. Trust me for the most part you don’t. If you really need a program it’s always just a click away anyway.
Now it’s time to get to work. Going one at a time select each program you don’t want to startup automatically. Next, click the Disable button at the bottom right of the window. Once you’re done disabling startup programs just close the Task Manager.
Your startup times should now improve depending on how many programs you’ve disabled. To give you an idea of how drastic you can get, of the thirty programs and utilities on my PC that want to turn on at startup, I only allow seven–and even that feels like too much.
If your PC is still slow to boot after disabling a bunch of startup programs you may have to dig deeper. It’s always a good idea to run an anti-virus scan just in case you have malware messing with your system. You could also look at disabling some hardware you don’t use or upgrading your RAM.
After all that, if you are still wishing for a faster boot time try swapping your hard drive for a solid-state drive (SSD). When it comes to speeding up your PC nothing makes as drastic a difference as switching to an SSD.
Before any of that, however, check out your startup programs in Windows 10 to find the offending programs that are slowing you down.