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Windows XP / 2000 Startup Tweak Guide (Page 1/5)

Posted: November 19, 2001
Written by: Dan "Tweak Monkey" Kennedy


Your system will boot faster and have more free memory.

It's been a couple months since you last installed Windows. Hopefully longer if you have some system stability. Everything was zippy and quick when it was first installed, but lately it's been sluggish. Gradually you noticed the slowdown, and now it seems like frame rates are dropping, boot-time is longer, and overall, the system just seems less responsive. This is typical of a modern Windows OS installation. As the months pass, more and more programs build up in your task bar and your system seems less stable. Yes, it's typical. But it can be fixed!

Tweaks to speed-up Windows 9x boot times and free up memory were quite common. We have a good guide on the subject here. But I've noticed that articles covering this sort of process for Windows 2000 and XP are somewhat rare, so I took the time to write this article. Hopefully you can trim down that Windows boot time and free up some memory, and of course, make the system more stable.

First Step - The BIOS (again!)

As with the Windows 9x guide, the first step is to trim the BIOS settings that slow your system's boot time down.

To enter the BIOS setup, restart your PC and hit the key designated for setup (ex: "Hit delete for setup"). Usually the key is designated right on the screen, and often times this key is DELETE. If you can't find the key, look in your motherboard manual. If you can't find one of the following commands, look for a similar command. If you still can't find it, skip over it and look at the next command. Here are the commands you should look for to change:

These commands can be found in various sections of different BIOS setup programs. Search for the following:

Turbo Frequency - ENABLE. This is not available on all motherboards, but on most it will set your bus speed approximately 2.5% higher, offering a generous speed increase. It's overclocking, but very minor, so most people should have no fear of this setting. It will make the whole system a little bit faster.

IDE Hard Disk Detection - This part of the BIOS Setup will detect your hard disks for you; and you can save the configuration. If you configure your hard drives here, you will not have to let your BIOS auto-detect the drives every time you boot up, which will save you time. This is a rather simple process and I don't think I need to explain it further.

Standard BIOS Setup Menu - This part of the BIOS Setup will confirm that all of the hard disks are configured. If you're sure you're not using a certain drive, turn off auto-detection and save yourself some time. CDROM drives usually do not need to be configured for your computer to identify them.

Quick Power On Self Test (or POST) - ENABLE. This will have your system run a less detailed POST, resulting in a quicker boot sequence.

Boot Sequence - Unless you plan on booting off of any drive other than your hard drive, set this to start with C, your hard drive.(ex: "C, A, SCSI."). You can always set it back to "CDROM" or something later.

Boot Up Floppy Seek - DISABLE. If you enable this, your system will take a few seconds to examine the floppy drive in search of a disk, wasting your time.

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