The Explorer: Curing Sloooooooow Restarts

Hardware and software tweaks can make your PC start much, much faster.

Fred Langa, Contributor

January 7, 2004

3 Min Read

Eliminate Needless DOS-Level Startup Stuff, Method Two
If the MSCONFIG trick doesn't work, or if you want more control, make a backup copy of any files you're going to edit (so you can be sure to be able to put things back the way they were, if you need to) and then use Notepad or Sysedit to manually alter Config.Sys and Autoexec.Bat. If you're not familiar with it, "Sysedit" is the Windows system file editing tool, and you can start it thusly: Start/Run, type Sysedit, hit enter.

Once you've loaded the files you want to edit, simply place a "REM" (without the quotes) in front of any lines you want to skip. For example, if your Autoexec has a line like this: C:\somedirectory\someapp.exe you could tell your PC to skip that line (and thus not load "someapp.exe") by placing a REM in front of the line like this:

REM C:\somedirectory\someapp.exe

For best results, REM out one line at a time, then reboot and see what happens. If it turns out you actually do need "someapp.exe" to run, just re-edit the file to remove the REM. (A "REM" is a remark; it's a way programmers embed comments into a file without having your computer try to run the comments. Your PC simply ignores any line that starts with REM.)

Check The BIOS Options
When you first turn on your PC, usually one of the very first things that appears on-screen (long before Windows loads) is an option to "Enter Setup" or words to that affect. Dell systems say "Hit <Del> if you want to run setup," for example. Gateway systems say "Press F1 for Setup," and so on. If you don't know how to access Setup, check your owner's manual or your vendor's Web site. There are only several major brands of BIOSes, but there are literally tens of thousands of model-specific options and features. There's no way I can tell you exactly what to look for in your system. But in general:

Some newer BIOSes have collected a number of boot-time options in one place: Some Dell and Gateway models, for example, have a "Quickboot" option that skips all nonessential start-up steps. This type of option can be a very easy way to speed things up.

Some BIOSes let you choose if all hard drives, floppy drives, and CDs will be re-detected on every restart; or detected once and then only redetected if there's a problem. The latter option makes for faster boots because your system simply re-uses the hard drive, floppy drove, and CD settings that worked the last time.

Some BIOses let you turn off the RAM check (where you see the amount of RAM your system has being counted up). RAM is highly reliable, so you can save a few seconds by skipping this almost-always unnecessary RAM check.

There may be other options, too -- poke around and see. But use caution and common sense: Don't change settings at random, and write down any and all changes you make so you can be sure to be able to put things back the way they were. And, as with the Autoexec and Config changes mentioned earlier, it's best to make only once change at a time, reboot, and see what the effect was. Too many changes at once can make it hard to figure out what's going on.

These tips should get you started, but there are many, many more ways to Speed up restarts. What tricks do you use? What tips can you share? Join in!

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Fred Langa's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Fred Langa, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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