We've all encountered the situation in which our laptop takes forever to boot up - much to our chagrin as important clients or bosses wait on. Toting a tablet isn't always feasible, especially when performing a demonstration via a non-Web interface, or when there is significant amount of data input involved.
Thankfully, a plethora of new technologies designed to help laptops and desktops start up faster is just over the horizon in the form of the new ultrabook and devices based on the Ivy Bridge platform. Given that you may be waiting until the release of Windows 8 laptops later in the year before committing to a purchase, however, are there ways to get your existing Windows laptop to start up faster?
I've highlighted three methods below.
One of the biggest culprits of system slowdowns can be attributed to drivers or modules installed by software applications that are no longer needed. Even the fastest system will soon grind to a halt given sufficient abuse on this front, which is why a periodic reformat and reinstallation of Windows is the usual advice given by system administrators.
Users who are disinclined to go through the hassle of a reinstallation would be glad to know of a powerful tool that can be used to weed through every startup module and driver. Called Autoruns for Windows, it allows savvy users to identify startup applications that are no longer used, and eliminate them from the startup queue. When used judiciously, this can help skip problematic modules to significantly speed up system boot-ups.
A quick warning though: Avoid modifying components if you're not sure of what it does, as it is entirely possible that you may end up inadvertently disabling critical modules.
Make use of sleep mode
One simple trick of getting a laptop powered up in the shortest possible time would be to place it into "sleep" mode instead of switching it off. Most laptops can exit sleep mode within 3-5 seconds and be ready for operation shortly after, and is essentially what all tablets do. Indeed, I don't switch off my laptop anymore, and have configured all my laptops in the last three years to enter sleep mode when the lid is closed, and to "wake up" when the lid is opened.
Switch to an SSD
Finally, the fastest method of speeding up both a laptop's boot-up time as well as normal operations would undoubtedly be to upgrade to a solid-state drive (SSD). Prices of SSDs have continued falling, and manufacturers have released higher-performing SSDs at the same (or lower) price points. Moreover, the cost of an interim upgrade can be lowered even further by purchasing a smaller-capacity SSD rather than attempting to match its capacity to the size of our existing hard disk drive (HDD). And if that's not enough to convince you, some research has pointed to how <strong>SSDs are a cost advantage in business laptops</strong>.
I have been using a 120GB SSD for about three years now, and have found it to be adequate for my needs. The trick is to offload space-guzzling audio and video files onto a portable HDD or a network-attached storage.
Do you have other methods of helping your Windows laptop start up faster? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.