Computer takes Too Long to Start?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader 'TNStumbler' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I'm running Windows 7 Pro and my computer takes too long to start -- upwards of 85 seconds or so. I am running Malware Bytes Pro (paid version) and it has not found any malware. So, it must be that too many programs are being loaded during boot. Which programs can I remove from my startup? "

My Response:

There are plenty of utilities out there that can help you remove items from the startup. I personally prefer to use msconfig because it's already part of Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. It's very simple to use, though figuring out which programs to remove from your startup is not always intuitive (and I'll explain more about that further down).

Here's how to run msconfig:

1. Click the Start button*

2. Type in 'msconfig' (no quotes), and press Enter

3. The msconfig window will appear; go to the Startup tab and disable all items in the Startup

4. Go through the same list again and enable only the programs you want running during boot

Note: Windows XP users will need to click Start -> Run. Vista users click Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Run.

Which Programs Should You Enable and Disable in MSConfig?

You should leave any firewall, antivirus, or antimalware items pre-checked in the startup. You will also want to leave any programs like DropBox running the startup if you use it often.

You can theoretically disable all items from the startup and Windows will continue to operate normally, but some programs may not launch properly and produce an error message (though, this is rare). If you encounter any error messages after you disable a program using msconfig, go back into msconfig and re-enable the program in the startup. Nine times out of ten, however, it's a safe bet that disabling most items in the startup will work out just fine.

How to Research which Items to Disable in MSConfig?

If you're not sure which programs to enable or disable in msconfig, open up your web browser and type in the name of the program, followed by the word msconfig. For example, searching for "hsmanager msconfig" in Google tells me that this particular program is related to my sound card. As such, I'll leave it enabled in my startup.

Some Programs May Continue to Launch at Startup

Note that some programs will re-insert themselves into the msconfig startup the next time they are launched. In that case, you will need to open the program, then look for a preferences menu (or similar) and set the program to not launch at Windows startup. This will prevent it from re-enabling itself in the msconfig startup tab.

Additional Support: From Dennis

If you need additional support getting the job done, I am able to assist you over remote desktop support. Simply contact me using the contact form and we'll set up a time to meet and discuss your options.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing -- please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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doulosg's picture

Dennis, this is very similar to a situation I think I had written you about. I was even expecting to see my words at the top of the article.

But I have resolved my slow start issue and the cause was not what I would have expected.

My slow starts were occurring at home, but when I would take the laptop to my office or to most wifi spots, boot time was pretty quick, especially with the SSD drive. The timing benchmark I would use, though, was a large spreadsheet that would take 7 seconds to open after a fast boot - and 77+ seconds after a slow one. So naturally I was suspicious of some internet activity and a slow or non-optimized connection through the ISP's.

One day at home though, the boot cycle ran quickly (under 30 secs) and the spreadsheet opened in 7 secs. I thought that the previous day's trip to the office must have gotten something cleared, perhaps through some more thorough antivirus or something from the network.

Until I realized that the battery was not charging and that the power strip the adapter was plugged into had been switched off. With some experimentation, I saw that the fast boots and spreadsheet loads would occur on battery power but were slow when the power adapter was in use. The good wifi performance was when I was on battery power, and poor when I would make the effort to plug in the adapter. And in the office I use a docking station with its own power adapter.

The adapter I had been given with the laptop was only rated for 65 watts instead of the correct 90W adapter. The docking station uses 135 watts. I knew the adapter was charging the battery slowly, and it was somewhere low on my agenda to address that with the tech support folk - but who would have thought that an underrated power adapter would affect performance so dramatically even with a fully-charged battery?

Dennis Faas's picture

The phrase "my computer is slow" can have many reasons. The startup programs are by far the biggest cause, which is what I addressed in this article. Too many programs launching all at once during boot and not enough (or slow) resources can severely prolong the boot.

In your case there may be an option in the Wi-Fi adapter settings to disable power saving features. Instead, ensure the Wi-Fi adapter has full power to the Wi-Fi adapter all the time, even when operating on battery.

petershaw's picture

I wish I could get started in 80 odd seconds!!! My aging (5 year old Toshiba) Vista machine can take 12 minutes with the disk light on constantly before I can get going.

By the way I use Startup Delayer so that non-essential startup items can take place after all the important ones are through and I can get to work. Malware and viruses are all checked out clean, disk defragged and everything else checked out that I have found out about.

Once it's going and the constant disk access by Windows stops(can be hours) it runs fine.

That's why I rarely run Windows nowadays and have Linux Mint in it's own partition. There's very little my Windows software can do that Linux can't and everything Linux does seems to happen faster and easier.

ruellej's picture

If Malwareytes Pro is set up to run an initial scan at start up, that will definetly slow the boot system. I would recommend checking the Malwarebytes settings.

Dennis Faas's picture

This is a good suggestion - thanks for pointing that out.

ecash's picture

This is the beginning of what can be done.
But, If Im looking for a Good registry cleaner, that WONT kill my system..
I know its an advanced thing to do, and the cleaners I have used in the past, Scared the Spit out of me, and even messed up 1 computer long ago..
I hate Ccleaner..It works most times, but isnt to interactive..and going through ALL the stuff it finds is a ponderous mess..
It would be Nice if Windows had its Own registry, then a second one for OTHER STUFF added after windows setups and requirements.

I really wish MS would Isolate the OS..And anything that is later loaded/added, would STAY in its own DIR..with links in a secondary Reg.. It would save Time in cleaning machines..Rename the file and see if windows starts, if it does, Look at the secondary files reg..