Glazer: Get your PC up and running faster
In a previous column, I mentioned streamlining the Windows startup - what actually loads when the operating system starts. Let's elaborate on that somewhat here. By cutting down on unnecessary programs, applets and icons at the start, your computer has more memory free to do the things you want it to do.
There are dozens of things that load with Windows; many run in the background and they are needed. Many are not.
If you see lots of icons in your taskbar by the clock, each one represents a program that is running and is eating system resources.
Every program you install wants to be on that list that initializes with Windows. Most of them will give you the option of having it run at startup or not. Look for that box in the installation program and uncheck it. Let it add a line to the Programs list and perhaps even allow it to place an icon on the desktop. But don't let it be in the startup group.
A good place to start looking for these culprits is by clicking the Start button. Then find Run and type in "msconfig" without the quotes. Hit Enter and then click the Startup tab on the right. Listed there are items that start when your system does. Most, if not all of them are unnecessary. Aside from your anti-virus and spyware programs, you could uncheck all the other boxes. Hit Apply, then OK and you're done. Some may come back, but it's a start.
There are some good utilities to assist in stopping these unwanted programs from initializing. Many of the all-in-one utilities out there have a start-up manager included. There is a good free one included in Advanced WindowsCare V2 Personal from IOBit. It is a basically a registry cleaning and spyware utility, but has a few good extra tools included, the Startup Manager being one. It works with XP/Vista and you can download it for free at www.iobit.com.
Two more free programs, Startup Monitor and Startup Control Panel let you know when something gets added to your startup group. They look in various places where startups reside. Both are from the same author at www.mlin.net.
Stop Starting is an inexpensive yet efficient utility with a free 10-day trial that worked flawlessly for me. After the trial, it's only $9.95 and is available at www.stopstarting.com. It also works with XP/Vista.
Ashampoo StartUp Tuner 2 is exceptional in that it is comprehensive in its cleaning. It covers the Windows Services as well as the programs you've added. Many services are unnecessary and it will show you what services you have running and helps to explain if you can shut them down safely. It works for Win 2000/XP/Vista and is available for download at www.download.com.
There is a plethora of information on this topic on the Internet to help you decide what you can disable or delete. Do a Google search for Windows Services and take notes. Prior to adjusting any settings it is always wise to backup the registry and set a system restore point. (E-mail me if you have trouble with this.)
From my experience, some of the services you can safely disable are: Alerter, Clipbook, Messenger Service (it is not Windows Messenger), Telnet Service, Error Reporter, Smart Card Helper, Uninterruptible Power Supply (unless you have a UPS) and Remote Registry Service, to name a few. If you don't use wireless, you can also disable the Wireless Zero Service.
There is a tool built into Windows that will let you edit Services. Right click on My Computer and then click on Manage. Go to Services and Applications, then to Services. Each Service listed will allow you to start, stop, put it on auto or disable it. Their dependencies are even explained in detail. Be sure to look to see if there are any programs that may need the service you are about to disable. Anything you change can be undone, but tread lightly. If you are unsure, let it be, as you may disable something you (or Windows) needs.
After you've made a few adjustments, you should notice an immediate change to your system's response. Just be careful the next time you install something. Remember each program is egocentric and wants to be part of what's happening. Don't let it.
Arthur Glazer is a local freelance writer and an A+ Certified computer technician.