Friday, September 21, 2007

Shrink XP’s Start up and Shut Down Times

When trying these suggestions wisely use System Restore (or a suitable alternative)!

Reduce your boot time:

  • Check the BootOptimizeFunction registry key: If the Enable string value is not set to Y, change it. (This is enabled by default.) Exit regedit and reboot. A boot up defragment will now take place. This will optimize the position of the boot files for a faster boot. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Dfrg\BootOptimizeFunction.
  • Purge Prefetch? I’ve found that after purging C:\windows\prefetch my system takes longer to boot. Admittedly, it is a delay of only few seconds and things normalise after the use of the computer over a few days. An exception is to clear out obsolete .pf files referring to programs that have been uninstalled. For more details, please see the March 2005 APC.
  • Check the BIOS: Look for quick Power On Self Test (POST), and Boot Delay enabled. (On pressing the power button you will have to quickly press one of a number of keys. Esc, F1, F2, F10 and Delete are commonly used. It varies according to the BIOS manufacturer.) If you never use a floppy drive, turn off the option for seeking a boot up floppy.
  • Completely defrag your boot/system drive: Unfortunately, the defragger provided in XP is a limited version of Executive Software’s Diskeeper. Opinions differ as to the best defragger for XP. Popular choices are Diskeeper, O&O Defrag and PerfectDisk. Worth investigating is a good, full-featured defragger available from: This is a complete defragger. Multiple instances can be run simultaneously (if you have multiple disks). It features individual file defragging, with wildcards and recursion and will defrag NTFS, FAT and FAT32 file systems on any media (HD, Zip/Jaz, floppy, etc). Depending on the size of the hard drive, its free space and the number of files involved, this can take several hours. Planned for a future release is the defragmentation of NTFS metadata files.
  • Remove the garbage and optimise the registry: Be very wary of know-all, do-all, and promise-all registry cleaners. Your choice should have an undo function. Norton One Button Check Up/Norton WinDoctor have their devotees. The freeware EasyCleaner available at is more aggressive than these Symantec products, but when used carefully is beneficial.
  • Use a Registry Optimiser: Download the excellent freeware program Erunt V. 1.1h from This includes a tool for backing the XP registry and one (NTregOpt) for optimising it. NTregOpt optimises by compacting the registry hives to the minimum size possible.
  • Malware problems: In addition to full AV scans, regularly use at least two recognised spyware/adware removal programs to check your system for nasties. The free Microsoft AntiSpyware Beta 1 is commonly regarded as an excellent product.