Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Get A Faster “Boot up” Time With Startup Delayer

Free utility manages program launch at startup. (More rain here. Yippee.)

Folks, one of my most frequently asked questions is some variation of “How can I make my machine faster?” and/or the (usually) directly related complaint of the machine taking forever to start up in the morning.

People don’t like it when I tell them it’s their fault. (Well, at least half their fault.)

I have written several articles about what to do about slow PC’s (enter “speed up”, or “optimize” in my Search widget). I won’t repeat myself. But if you have come here looking for specific tips for faster startup, PLEASE, first read My Startup folder is a clown car (it will open in a new window/tab) and then read Manage Startup programs in Vista. These articles will teach you the thinking behind, and How To methods for, disabling programs from “auto-launching”, and bogging down your machine.

But perhaps you don’t want to completely disable the program autolaunch. That’s when a program that can set a delayed time to auto-launch is key.

When Windows loads it’s Startup file, it attempts to load every program in there at the same time. Therefore if you have quite a lot of programs starting when Windows starts, each program will try and grab CPU time so that it can load. When each program tries to do this at the same time, (which is what happens at boot up) you soon notice the slow down that occurs, due to your CPU trying to help all the programs to load, and your hard disk accessing multiple files.

What is needed is a little “traffic control”.

Startup Delayer utility presents you with a list of all the programs that start when your system does. To set a delay for any of them, just drag it to the white bar at the bottom of the window. You’ll see a line representing the program; drag it left or right to decrease or increase the delay. Repeat this for other programs you want to postpone.

For example, if you have iTunes installed, you’ll see a startup program called iTunesHelper.exe. Unless you plan to connect your iPod or run iTunes the very moment your PC boots, why not delay this applet for two minutes? Same goes for things like Adobe Reader Quick Launch and Google Updater. Delay those for, say, 4 minutes and 5 minutes, respectively. (Do not mess with programs you don’t recognize. They are probably essential Windows system files, and fiddling can cause crashes and/or weird ‘glitches’.).

Startup Delayer is free, and it is one of the best way I know of to speed up a slow-booting PC. It’s a must-have for anyone who installs a lot of software. (Though, I prefer the tactic of keeping my machines “lean and mean”. I uninstall any program I do not use frequently — Step 1 of computer “optimization”. Go to Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features > Uninstall a program, and let the list “populate”.)

Today’s reco’d reading: Where to Shop for Computers, Computer Parts, Accessories, Electronics and Other IT Products…

Facebook scam alert: Please know (and tell your Facebook friends) there is a scam “program” that steals your private data by claiming to tell you visitor statistics..

From Facebook: “Facebook does not provide applications or groups with the technical means to allow people to track profile views or see statistics on how often a particular piece of content has been viewed and by whom. If an application claims to provide this functionality, please report the application by going to the application’s About page and clicking “Report Application” at the bottom of the page, or by clicking “Report” at the bottom of any canvas page within the application.”

Psst. Hey, you. I got some cool sandals for you..


a world filled with geniuses…

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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March 24, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, software, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Startup Folder Is A Clown Car*

Clown_Car

image courtesy of istockphoto.com

You are familiar with clown cars. It’s that tiny little car that drives into the center ring at the circus, stops, opens its door, and an arm comes out, then a leg, and then a whole, seven and-a-half foot tall clown comes out…and you wonder what inhuman contortionist’s feat allowed that BIG clown to fit into that little car.
No sooner has that tall clown unfolded himself, then he reaches into the car and pulls out a fat clown. You think, no way!
Now a lady clown comes out of that car…and then a short clown…and then another fat clown emerges…and you’re thinking, there’s gotta be a tunnel under there…but you had just seen elephants parading all over that center ring…and another clown’s out and another clown and another clown. What you’re seeing just isn’t possible. You lose count of all the clowns that come out of that car. Yes…I just knew you’d remember. Clown car.

I have one machine that I use for pretty much everything — gaming, digital photography, building/maintaining my website, reading and sending email, instant messaging, video conferencing, doing my taxes, etc – and I have, literally, scores of programs installed on it. (I have other machines as well, but this one is my Swiss Army knife: it does it all.) This machine’s Startup folder has become like that clown car before it expels its load. Because of that fact it takes so long to get going at boot up that I never turn it off – I leave it running 24/7. That’s far from an ideal ’solution’, however.

The fact is, and this dates back to the days of DOS and TSR (terminate and stay resident) programs, just about every program and service you install wants to get itself loaded when Windows starts — so that it will be “immediately available” should you want it — and so it puts a shortcut to itself in the Startup folder. For some programs and services this is a very good thing; like your 3rd party firewall and antivirus program and updater. You definitely want those things running all the time, and just as soon as Windows boots.

But most of the others are unnecessary and merely slow down the boot process and waste valuable RAM memory space. Apple Quicktime, Adobe Acrobat (and Adobe Updater) and Real Player are notorious examples of programs that have no business inserting themselves into your Startup folder, but there are others: do you really need your webcam to start itself at boot? How about your instant messenger? Isn’t it sufficient to simply launch them when you’re ready to use them? Some of these simply launch themselves so that they can show you banner ads and make the owners money (like AIM and MSN Messenger), which is pretty darned-close to being adware…wouldn’t you say? (It is, in fact, the definition of adware.) Windows itself is often guilty of bogging itself down by loading programs (called “services”) that you probably don’t need.

Tip of the day: Speed up your boot process (and get rid of some of those icons down by the clock at the same time) by trimming shortcuts from your Startup folder and shutting down unnecessary services. Let’s start with the first one. In XP, right-click the Start button, and then click Properties. On the Start Menu tab, click Classic Start menu and then click Customize. Now click Remove. Open the Programs folder and open the Startup folder. Highlight the items in the Startup folder that you want to remove and click the Remove button. Close, and hit OK. That’s it. Restore your Start menu’s view if you prefer the “XP look”. (Remember, you are only removing shortcuts to the executable, and not removing the program itself: it is still there for when you want it.)

Now my advice on what to remove and what to leave alone: remove anything Adobe, remove anything that says “quick launch”, remove anything Apple, remove your webcam, and leave in place your Internet Security and anti-malware programs. It is up to you whether or not you want your instant messenger to be loaded at boot or not — I prefer it.

This next part, Services, is a little more advanced, and you should be real comfortable with Windows before you make too many adjustments — you will be doing more than just removing shortcuts here. Click Start >Programs >Administrative Tools (or, Start >All Programs >Accessories >Administrative Tools) and then Services. In the right-hand pane you will see a long list of services available to Windows, and columns labeled “Description”, Status, Start up type, and “Log on as”. The status shows you which ones are currently running, and as you will see, most of them are not (which is good).

Now since we’re in a province not meant for mere mortals, I’m going to suggest only a few “tweaks”, and strongly urge you not to do more.

Locate the service Messenger and check its status (This is not your instant messenger): it should be blank and the Start up type should read “disabled”. If not, double-click on it. On the window that opens, click the Stop button. Now use the drop-down menu to change the Start up type to Disabled. If you are not hosting your own website (and if you don’t know what that means, you aren’t) look for a service called IIS: use the above method to stop and disable this one also. If Telnet is running and you’re not a sysadmin, disable this one too.

If you are the only user of the machine, locate (and stop) the Fast User Switching service and set the Start up type to Manual. If it has been a long while since you’ve used Windows Help and Support Center, do the same to the service named Help and Support. And that, I believe, is enough for now.

Today’s free link(s): I have been talking recently about malware and I’ve mentioned the threats it poses. If you are concerned about, and have questions regarding, malware and ID theft, there’s a couple of great resources where you can get answers — Safer Computing.com and the US Government’s “one stop” National ID Theft Information Center.

For more on the Startup folder, see my new post, and also How To Manage Startup programs in Vista.

As part of his ongoing exploration of world of cloudware apps, Rick Robinette at What’s On My PC.. has found a nifty screen capture tool and prepared a nice demo video (that I found very informative). Check out ScreenToaster – An “Awesome and Free” web based screen recorder!

* One of my first articles. Orig pub: June 20, 2007

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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February 23, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, PC, performance, tech, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Speed up Vista/Superbowl weekend

As time passes, it is becoming clear to me that Saturday mornings are quite busy times for me at my online tech support shop, and once again service calls have made it impossible for me to post today’s article in a timely manner. I appreciate that some of you are waiting for me to explain the next steps so that you can start sending encrypted e-mails, but if you have read the documents and sent your public key, you probably can go ahead and start “practicing”. I apologize for the delay, and making you wait until Monday.
In the meantime, I am reposting a prior article and I hope you all have a safe Super Bowl weekend… and that your team wins.

Tip of the day: Speed up and optimize your Vista machine by managing which programs load when Vista boots, and eliminate unnecessary background tasks in one simple step.

I know.. I know. I have never started an article with the “tip of the day”, and I promise I won’t make a habit of it. It’s just when you write six-days-a-week, you need to shake things up a little– every now and then –just to keep from getting stale.

One of my earliest “optimization” articles, My Startup folder is a clown car, has also proven over time to be one of the more popular “how to’s” I have posted. It describes removing program shortcuts from the Startup folder as a method for making Windows boot up faster (which has the added benifit of reducing ‘background’ use of CPU cycles). This technique is applicable to XP (and older) versions of Windows.

In a different article, I answered a reader question and described another method for managing Startup programs: the built-in msconfig tool. This method works on all versions of Windows, including Vista. The msconfig tool is authoritative and effective, but it has an annoying side-effect of opening a little dialogue window –each boot-up– that tells you it has done its job and “blocked” programs from starting. (Yes, msconfig. I know. I toldyou to. Remember? Sheeze.) Today’s method avoids that annoyance.

Tip of the day: Use Windows Defender to stop unwanted programs from loading at startup.
Vista comes with Microsoft’s anti-spyware program, “Windows Defender” installed; and Defender* has a tool built into it called “Software Explorer” which allows you select whether a program loads during the boot process (start-up). To see the list of what is currently loading, open Defender by clicking Start >Programs, and click on Windows Defender. When Defender opens, click on the “Tools” gray gear icon.
def1.jpg

Now click on the “Software Explorer” hyperlink, and be patient while your hard drive is scanned and the list of programs “populates”. Make sure the “Category” is set to “Startup Programs” (the default).
def2.jpg

You may be surprised at just how many programs, or bits of programs, have managed to work their way into your Startup, and you may be tempted to get aggressive and start turning them off with reckless abandon. My advice in this area has to be somewhat general, but I would not turn off anything with “update” in its name. Also, if you’re simply not sure what something is, there will be a description in the right-hand pane of whatever item is ‘selected’ (single-click) in the left-hand pane.. which should help you decide. Be very conservative when dealing with Windows’ services (as in leave them alone).

In the screenshot above, I have ‘selected’ a program called “Reality Fusion Tray Application”, which happily installed itself when I hooked up a webcam. (It is supposed to be some “cool” thing for online gaming.. I guess.) Not only does this useless (to me, anyway) service slow down my boot, but it puts one more icon in my already over-crowded Notification Area. It’s gotta go!

Select the item you want to prevent from automatically starting (at boot time) — Reality Fusion in my example– by clicking once on it. Then click on the “Disable” button in the lower-right. Repeat this process for all the programs you wish to “un-automate”.
The next time you boot up your computer, these programs will not launch automatically, and you will have a leaner, meaner, faster machine.

If for some reason you experience any future troubles or odd behaviors because of these actions, simply open Defender and “Enable” the program/service again.

*Free link of the day: For those of you who aren’t running Vista, Microsoft offers Windows Defender as a free download.

Copyright 2007-2008 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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February 2, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Manage Startup programs in Vista

Tip of the day: Speed up and optimize your Vista machine by managing which programs load when Vista boots, and eliminate unnecessary background tasks in one simple step.

I know.. I know. I have never started an article with the “tip of the day”, and I promise I won’t make a habit of it. It’s just when you write six-days-a-week, you need to shake things up a little– every now and then –just to keep from getting stale.

One of my earliest “optimization” articles, My Startup folder is a clown car, has also proven over time to be one of the more popular “how to’s” I have posted. It describes removing program shortcuts from the Startup folder as a method for making Windows boot up faster (which has the added benifit of reducing ‘background’ use of CPU cycles). This technique is applicable to XP (and older) versions of Windows.

In a different article, I answered a reader question and described another method for managing Startup programs: the built-in msconfig tool. This method works on all versions of Windows, including Vista. The msconfig tool is authoritative and effective, but it has an annoying side-effect of opening a little dialogue window –each boot-up– that tells you it has done its job and “blocked” programs from starting. (Yes, msconfig. I know. I told you to. Remember? Sheeze.) Today’s method avoids that annoyance.

Tip of the day: Use Windows Defender to stop unwanted programs from loading at startup.
Vista comes with Microsoft’s anti-spyware program, “Windows Defender” installed; and Defender* has a tool built into it called “Software Explorer” which allows you select whether a program loads during the boot process (start-up). To see the list of what is currently loading, open Defender by clicking Start >Programs, and click on Windows Defender. When Defender opens, click on the “Tools” gray gear icon.
def1.jpg

Now click on the “Software Explorer” hyperlink, and be patient while your hard drive is scanned and the list of programs “populates”. Make sure the “Category” is set to “Startup Programs” (the default).
def2.jpg

You may be surprised at just how many programs, or bits of programs, have managed to work their way into your Startup, and you may be tempted to get aggressive and start turning them off with reckless abandon. My advice in this area has to be somewhat general, but I would not turn off anything with “update” in its name. Also, if you’re simply not sure what something is, there will be a description in the right-hand pane of whatever item is ‘selected’ (single-click) in the left-hand pane.. which should help you decide. Be very conservative when dealing with Windows’ services (as in leave them alone).

In the screenshot above, I have ‘selected’ a program called “Reality Fusion Tray Application”, which happily installed itself when I hooked up a webcam. (It is supposed to be some “cool” thing for online gaming.. I guess.) Not only does this useless (to me, anyway) service slow down my boot, but it puts one more icon in my already over-crowded Notification Area. It’s gotta go!

Select the item you want to prevent from automatically starting (at boot time) — Reality Fusion in my example– by clicking once on it. Then click on the “Disable” button in the lower-right. Repeat this process for all the programs you wish to “un-automate”.
The next time you boot up your computer, these programs will not launch automatically, and you will have a leaner, meaner, faster machine.

If for some reason you experience any future troubles or odd behaviors because of these actions, simply open Defender and “Enable” the program/service again.

See also Get A Faster “Boot up” Time With Startup Delayer

*Free link of the day: For those of you who aren’t running Vista, Microsoft offers Windows Defender as a free download.

Copyright 2007-2008 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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January 11, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows | , , , , , | 55 Comments