Fixing Slow Startup in Windows XP


Under optimum conditions, Windows XP takes 30 seconds or less to start up. Factors such as the computer hardware and installed software often affect startup speed. During the course of normal use, Windows XP may begin to start more slowly, taking minutes instead of seconds to boot. Slow startup leads to other performance issues, causing programs to launch slowly, system menus to glitch and files to open incorrectly or not at all. Slow Windows XP startup is usually solved by targeting one or more key areas.

Reduce Startup Programs

  • Many applications install themselves so they start automatically when Windows XP starts. The more programs that try to start simultaneously with the operating system, the longer it takes for the system to boot. There are three ways to change which programs start when Windows does. The first is by deleting the application's startup link in Start, Programs and Startup. Most startup programs are listed in this folder.

    The second option is to uncheck startup applications by using the msconfig tool. The final option involves checking the options within individual applications. In the future, check for startup options during the installation process to prevent this problem.

Defragment Hard Drive

  • When files are created and programs installed, pieces may be placed on different sectors of the hard drive. Any programs or files used during the Windows XP startup that are fragmented will slow boot time, sometimes drastically. To reduce fragmentation, defragment your hard drive on a regular basis using the Windows defrag tool.

Disconnect Unnecessary Network Connections

  • Windows XP attempts to connect to networks and networked devices while starting up. The more devices, the longer the process takes. Disconnecting any unnecessary network connections speeds up the boot process. This includes external drives, printers and even routers. Unless they are needed the moment the system boots, disconnect them for optimum performance.

Install Anti-Virus

  • Viruses and malware are common causes of Windows XP performance issues. When viruses affect system files, Windows XP may start slowly or not at all. Install anti-virus and anti-spyware programs of your choice. Run a full scan as soon as the software is installed. Remove any problems as directed by the software. To prevent future problems, update the software and run a full scan at least once per week.

Upgrade Hardware

  • Windows XP may not be able to run properly on older hardware. If your hardware doesn't meet or barely meets the minimum requirements necessary to run Windows XP, you may notice a slow startup and other performance issues. If possible, upgrade the hardware so it more than merely exceeds the minimum requirements. Also, old device drivers can cause older hardware to be incompatible with Windows XP. Updating device drivers allows older hardware to communicate more easily, preventing startup problems.

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