| By Fred Langa |
In this second of eight installments about my travels, I finish helping a Windows Secrets reader by decluttering his Startup folder, sorting out an IP address issue, and testing his laptop’s firewall.
In Part One last week, I described the beginning of my first Housecall (a free, day-long PC tune-up and tech session given to four contest winners).
Reducing start-up software shortens boot time
Longmont is the home of Windows Secrets reader John Rice, an engineer whose PCs were in excellent shape. He did, however, report three issues: slow boots, a networking problem, and security concerns. We began by decluttering his PC, thereby finding (and deleting) half a gigabyte of orphaned temp files that John’s standard disk-cleaning tools had left behind. (This process was described in last week’s article.)
Figure 1. Rocky Mountain High (click photos to enlarge). Not far from Longmont, the road through Rocky Mountain National Park tops out at around 12,000 feet (3,700 meters), well above the treeline and in truly alpine conditions. While in the Longmont/Denver area, I also rode over Independence Pass (12,000 feet/3,700 meters) and up Mount Evans (the highest paved road in North America) and Pikes Peak, both over 14,000 feet (4,300 meters). The views were amazing!
With John’s temp areas lean and clean, it was time to move on to the next steps in seeking a faster boot: uninstalling unneeded software — especially any that runs in full or in part at start-up — and thoroughly cleaning and compacting the Registry.
Most software publishers seem to think that everyone will want to run their software all the time. Take Apple, for example. Say you want to watch a QuickTime-format video. Apple kindly offers the QuickTime viewer for free; that’s a good thing. But Apple assumes that of course you’ll want QuickTime to start up every time you start Windows; and of course you’ll want it to phone home and check for updates on a regular basis; and of course you’ll want the QuickTime icon to appear as a permanent resident in your system task area; and of course you’ll want to install and run the totally unrelated iTunes software as well. These are cheeky assumptions if all you want to do is watch a video.
QuickTime is just one well-known and widespread example of software with aggressive defaults. (Yes, most of those behaviors are controllable, but it takes extra steps to invoke nondefault settings to get a relatively clean setup.) Over time, most Windows machines end up with software that needlessly attaches itself to the start-up process, stealing CPU time and lengthening the boot sequence. Removing these binary barnacles makes for smoother sailing at start-up.