Q. My computer is slow to boot and often slow to run. What can I do to improve its performance?
A. You will need to manually select which applications are loaded when Windows boots. The fewer the apps loaded at startup, the faster the boot time.
Editors differ in complexity and power, but all use the same basic step-by-step process. Because of that commonality, I suggest you read this article and the two that follow before doing anything to your PC. That way, you'll have a complete overview of the options available, and you can select the right tool for your needs and abilities.
As always, before making significant changes to the Windows system, start by creating a system image (or at least a complete file backup). Store the new backup somewhere other than the hard drive on which you're working, such as on optical discs or another hard drive. This guarantees you'll be able to roll back or undo any changes that might unexpectedly muck up your system.
Now you're ready to safely reconfigure Windows' startup. Start by timing how long your PC takes to boot with its current configuration. This is your baseline, which you'll use to gauge the benefits of any changes you make. If you’re really fussy, get out your stopwatch. Removing some apps from the startup folder might have negligible effect on overall boot time but will take more time to load from scratch later on.
All versions of Windows have a Startup folder that might contain shortcuts to software that runs at boot time. I say "might contain" because many programs bypass the Startup folder and instead insert themselves into a lower level of the boot process that's harder to access. We'll deal with those later.
Those exceptionally well-behaved programs that do use the Startup folder are very easy to modify. Open your Startup folder by clicking Start/All Programs/Startup. If your Startup folder has shortcuts to software that doesn't need to run at startup, simply cut-and-paste the shortcut elsewhere (such as to your desktop).
Programs whose shortcuts have been moved will no longer run at startup, but you can still launch them manually, whenever you like, by clicking the relocated shortcut.
Next week we’ll talk about using the System Configuration tool.