Loading Windows

August 16, 2007

Windows XP loads pretty fast but there are some ways to hurry it up a bit. Unfortunately, a lot of the stuff you read isn’t too useful. Here are a few of the common suggestions.

  1. A study has shown that cutting down on the number of fonts being loaded will speed things up. If you have many hundreds of fonts, you might consider removing some. Those who wish to manage their fonts can read this article.
  2. There is a lot of discussion of configuring “Prefetch” and the related subject “boot defrag”. The average PC user can ignore these subjects since Windows XP basically takes care of this area on its own. These configurations are part of what the utility “Bootvis.exe” discussed above was supposed to help manage. If you must tinker, do the RUNDLL32.exe command given above in the Bootvis.exe section. However, forget the often-mentioned idea of regularly deleting the contents of the \Windows\Prefetch\ folder. In fact, deleting Prefetch will initially slow down the boot until the folder is rebuilt. See Ed Bott’s blog on the subject. Also see this bad tweaks list.
  3. The Start menu in Windows XP contains an entry, My Recent Documents, where a list of all the recent documents that you have opened or used is kept. This provides a quick way to reopen any document. After a while the list can get quite long and it has the effect of slowing the bootup process. Details of managing this feature are discussed here. What isn’t obvious is that the list of files that can be accessed from the My Recent Documents entry in the Start may be only the tip of the iceberg. The folder, %USERPROFILE%\Recent, where the entries are stored may have many more. This folder should be cleaned regularly. This can be done manually or automatically every time you log off. To make the cleanup automatic you can edit the Registry. (The usual caveats about Registry editing apply.) In the Registry editor Regedit, navigate to this key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer Create a DWORD value named ClearRecentDocsOnExit and give it a data value of 1. Shortcut entries for “My Recent Documents” will still be collected during a login session but will then be cleared at logoff. For those who shun Registry editing, I have written an INF file to do the Registry change. Download the zipped file here to anywhere convenient and unzip. Then right-click and choose “Install” from the context menu. The change will take place when you log off or reboot.
    Note: This file is offered without any guarantees and the user assumes all respnsibility for its use.
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