Boosting Windows VISTA startup – Part 1

April 16, 2009 by | Comments
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How did it all began?

I’ve been witnessing in the past years a quite annoying phenomenon, almost daily: the inescapable, unavoidable, tedious delay when booting up a Windows based computer. Of course others operating systems take some time loading, but in my experience, Windows based computers have suffered this “defect” more than their counterparts.

You may know about the boot procedure: hundreds system files being loaded from disk into the computer memory….. drivers, DLLs , Services and so on….. your computer initializing devices connected to it, plus configuring all the software/bloatware you have installed. The more, the worst, in terms of performance.

[toc]Since the early days I have been hoping and waiting for the next/future-technology quantum-leap in terms of performance: faster disks and CPUs, increased memory size, smart architectural improvements; while some of those expectations have been partially satisfied, we have all faced a complexity growth of the operating systems (read: longer startups). So no SCSI-SATA-PCI-X-ReadyBoost-you-name-it-what solved the problem, and if it did, well… I didn’t realize!

Of course VISTA’s improved stability and improved standby management has helped us a lot: I personally keep my computer in standby until it gets unstable; while I’m writing this guide I see my current uptime is set at over 93hrs.

Weather you’re a save-the-planet person (and wish to give your little contribution to save energy consumption, shutting down your PC while not using it) or not, sooner or later you’ll need to (re)boot, and… wait!

The solution: Services Delayed Start

Among the mass of hints & tips floating on the Internet, there’s one that definitely hit’s the target: the delayed startup of Vista’s Services: you are actually telling Windows to load some pieces out of the startup sequence, running them in the background, boosting priority to other vital parts.

services

To achieve that you will be running the Services configuration manager either typing “services” in the searchbox or navigating from the Start Menu to the Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Services.

Once there you will have the opportunity to choose the Services you believe safe to be started in the background; don’t worry to much about stability: not all the services are allowed to be delayed, so you can have fun experimenting as I did; you can reverse this easily.

I have successfully delayed the start of about 30 services, some of them related to system, others belonging to user-installed applications:

• Acronis Scheduler2 Service
• Acronis Try And Decide Service
• Andrea ST Filters Service
• Apple Mobile Device
• Background Intelligent Transfer Service
• Bluetooth Support Service
• Bonjour Service
• FreePOPs
• Google Software Updater
• KtmRm for Distributed Transaction Coordinator
• MNS Framework
• Net Driver HPZ12
• ngrc.tomcat
• Pml Driver HPZ12
• ReadyBoost
• Remote Access Connection Manager
• Roxio Hard Drive Watcher 9
• Sandboxie Service
• Security Center
• SFUSVC
• Superfetch
• SupportSoft Sprocket Service (dellsupportcenter)
• Terminal Services
• TPM Base Services
• Windows Image Acquisition (WIA)
• Windows Media Center Service Launcher
• Windows Search
• Windows Time
• Windows Update
• XAudioService

Tweaking the Services

services01
services02
But how do you achieve that?

In the Services panel you will right click on the service you wish to delay and select “Properties”, then in the drop-down menu select “Automatic (Delayed Start)” and press OK to confirm;

Once done, reboot and see if the delayed started is causing problems, if not, you’re done. If you have enough time to spend you can also test a bunch of services to delay, reboot and then continue.

Of course the outcome will vary depending on your configuration, in my case the benefits have been ENORMOUS, I’m getting system responsivness in a fraction time than before tweaking the Services. You still will be noticing some lag while the system keeps starting the delayed Services, but at least user input is allowed, allowing your mouse and keyboard to be responsive and the feeling your system is gasping, will be over.

Benchmark

To have an idea about the benefits of this tweak, check out the following table, showing before/after timings
tbl_p8425_01
Column A holds my system timings with default settings, while Column B shows timings with Delayed Service Startup enabled.

Following events have been timed, from power on to:
- Windows login screen
- logged in & Windows Sidebar appearance
- logged in & system responsive, allowing user input

The benefits are evident.

Forgot to mention: the performance index of the computer used for the test is quite good:

wei

Final Thoughts

Windows VISTA’s complexity has grown to such an extent, that on a software/bloatware mildly overloaded system, boot time can be intolerable.

While you can try to avoid rebooting using the quite stable StandBy management, you can decrease startup time, tweaking the Delayed Services Startup.

There are more tweaks to come in the next guides.

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