Boot camp

If you're sick of twiddling your thumbs waiting for your operating system to boot, read on as Windows shows you how to cut your boot times.

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By  Jason Saundalkar Published  October 13, 2008

If you're sick of twiddling your thumbs waiting for your operating system to boot, read on as Windows shows you how to cut your boot times.

It's as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning; as your operating system (OS) accumulates age, it will take longer and longer to boot if left unmaintained. This, unfortunately, holds true regardless of what OS you use on your machine.

There are a number of reasons for the elongated boot time including a fully packed hard drive, un-necessary data accumulation via the installation and un-installation of software and even bloated registry.

All of these factors combined will add a certain amount of time to your OSs' boot time and, if left unchecked, you could be faced with minute long boot times or, in the worst case, an OS crash.

Thankfully, there is plenty you can do to make sure this doesn't happen and going this route is a lot quicker than resorting to a time-consuming system reformat and OS reinstall. So without further ado, lets get on with the tips and tricks.

Trim the fat

One of the reasons an OS can take a long time to boot is because it's running on a fully-packed hard drive. Hard drives perform slightly better when they have free space, so your first point of attack should be to free up disk space. The best way to do this is to get rid of unwanted data such as old e-mails and software.

For your e-mails, the best course of action is to get rid of messages with large attachments. If you're using an e-mail client such as Microsoft's Outlook, simply click on the ‘Size' field and Outlook will reorder your e-mail list in order of size.

Once Outlook has reorganised your e-mails just delete the ones that you don't need in order of attachment size. This will free up valuable disk space and will also give a small performance improvement in terms of boot speed.

When it comes to getting rid of programs, the best way to go about this is by uninstalling them using Windows' Add/Remove utility. You can find this by clicking Start/Settings/Control Panel and then double click on ‘Add or Remove programs'.

Once the app opens and shows you the full list of programs installed, scroll through and think about which software you need and which you don't. Get rid of as much as possible and you should have a load of free disk space by the time you're done.

Clean up crew

Although using the Add/Remove utility to get rid of unwanted software is a solid way to clean up your hard disk, it isn't full-proof. Sometimes programs will leave data in other directories whilst also leaving their footprints on Windows' registry.

This not only consumes a small amount of disk space but the left over bloat in the registry means that the OS has more code to process. This adversely affects boot times and also responsiveness once the OS has actually booted.

To clean up this mess, you'll need to employ utility software such as ‘CCleaner'. This handy app can scan your hard drive and registry for useless data entries, making it easy for you to simply select what you don't want and get rid of it. In terms of unwanted data removal, CCleaner looks for temporary files, un-needed file fragments and more. On the registry front, the app will look through your OSs' registry and will track-down references to missing files, fonts, applications, paths and more.

Once you've installed the application and run it, it should automatically open in the ‘Cleaner' section. Here, you need only click ‘Analyze' and wait for the software to compile a list of un-necessary data.

While Cleaner is fairly accurate in terms of determining what is needed and what's not, you should try and look through the list, just to make sure it hasn't inadvertently selected something important. Once you're happy with the list of selected files, hit the ‘Run Cleaner' button.

Next, click the ‘Registry' icon on the left hand side of the app's main screen and then hit the ‘Scan for issues' button that's located at the bottom. Once a list has been compiled, as before, go through the list to make sure nothing major is being removed and then hit ‘Fix selected issues'. Your registry should now be bloat free.

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