Boot Time Getting You Down?
Posted: October 23, 2000
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan
The time that the computer takes to boot up is one of the most annoying parts about a computer. Couldn't those damn things just turn on like a toaster or a coffee pot? However, because of the nature of the computer (you can add to its programming after you receive it), you will always have to deal with some kind of boot time. As is the point and focus of this guide, that time can be minimized - saving you several seconds every time you go to turn on your computer.
Flashing Your BIOS
There are basically only two sections to tweaking your boot time - your BIOS and your startup files. The first thing that you need to do when tweaking out the BIOS for boot time is download the newest image and flash your BIOS.
To flash your BIOS, first you extract the BIOS flash image to a floppy disk and boot into DOS (or if you no longer have real DOS mode, WinMe users, load your emergency disk and then insert the disk with the new BIOS on it). Then you will need to run the program that flashes the BIOS. You will probably have to put a command into the command line like execute.exe bios.img - the names might be different but you get the idea. For more specific instructions, read the readme that's included with the new BIOS.
To enter your BIOS setup utility, hit DELETE or the indicated key when the PC says something along the lines of "Press DELETE to setup".
There are a few settings within the BIOS that you can change/set that will speed up boot time. One of the most important ones is QuickPOST (might also be called QuickBoot or something along those lines). You will want to enable this setting because it will tell the computer to skip over some of the system tests that it usually does before letting the computer load the OS. Another thing that I would consider setting would be the settings for all of the hard drives in the system. You can do this by running the IDE Auto-Detection program and letting it detect your hard drive(s). Once it has done that, go back to the main BIOS screen and make sure all of the other channels are set to none. Don't worry if you have a CD-ROM drive connected to one of those 'none' channels, the computer detects CD-ROM drives differently than it does hard disks.
The next thing to go through and check would be the boot sequence and set it to boot the C drive (hard disk) first. Now, this means you won't be able to boot using a floppy unless you entirely disable the hard drive, or you go back to this setting and change it later - but it is worth the extra effort on those rare occasions that you need to boot using a floppy disk, because this will speed up your boot time by 3 to 4 seconds in many cases. After that is done, go and make sure that floppy boot seek is disabled - the BIOS will detect the location of the floppy drives anyway, it doesn't need to independently test each one during the power on self test.
To edit any of these files, open them in notepad by choosing Start, Run, notepad C:\msdos.sys (or the appropriate name for the file)
There are three major startup files for Win9x/Me - msdos.sys, autoexec.bat, and config.sys. These three files contain most of the booting information prior to Windows loading (more on that later). The first file that we are going to deal with is the msdos.sys file. Now, because I cover how to tweak out this boot file in at least one other guide here at Tweak3D, I'm just going to cover it briefly. There are a few very important lines that should be added to the file, mainly: Logo=0, DrvSpace=0, DblSpace=0, and DisableLog=1 (each on their own line). The logo line disables the Windows startup screen, the Drvspace and Dblspace lines disable archaic hard drive compression that isn't usable under FAT32 anyway, and DisableLog turns off the cryptic and unhelpful startup log. All of these things, combined, not only speed up boot time, but they also decrease system overhead - speeding up the computer overall.
The config.sys and autoexec.bat files, depending on the version of Windows you are using, have differing importances. If you are using WinMe, you will probably want to ignore these tweaks for the time being and check out the specific information available in our WinMe tweak guides (some of which haven't been written at the time of this writing). In the config.sys file, remove any references to CD-ROM drivers (MSCDEX.exe, etc) by remarking it out (put REM in front of the command). This way you aren't deleting it if it causes a problem, but it isn't being loaded into memory. Do the same with any extra programs within the autoexec.bat file. There are other tweaks that you can do to these files, but they don't increase the boot speed of the computer.
System Configuration Utility
I'm very briefly going to go over some startup speed enhancements using the system configuration utility. Start it up (Start, Run, msconfig (hit enter)) and go directly to the "startup" tab (how astonishing). Then go through it and remove anything with the following criteria:
- If there are two or more listings of the same setting, disable all but one of them.
- If you know what the program is that the setting enables/disables, and you no longer want or need it, disable it.
That should about cover that for now. I know, it's short, but I don't want you to disable anything you might want enabled (at least not yet).
Hopefully, this brief guide on tuning your boot speed will help you get to a point where the time it takes to turn on your computer wouldn't be better used roasting an entire turkey - if you can still roast an entire turkey in the time it takes your computer to load up, e-mail me and I will personally help you out over the phone . Enjoy, and if you want more information on the subject of boot time, check out our System Startup Tweak Guide, which covers even more features, in greater depth.
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