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Computers have come a long way since the beige boxes of old, but even with speeds measured in gigahertz and gigabytes per second, they still require a bit of a wait. If you’re tired of solving Rubik’s cubes while waiting for your computer to boot, there are a few ways to speed up the process.
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Windows has a feature called Quick Start that does exactly what it sounds like, and it’s the obvious first stop in your search. In fact, it is a kind of half mode between hibernation and shutdown. It won’t keep your open programs like hibernation, but the operating system under the hood will hibernate, helping you boot faster in a clean state.
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Rebooting is not affected, so if you’re having trouble with Windows Update or accessing the BIOS, you may need to restart your computer instead of shutting it down to perform these tasks. This may be enabled by default on many machines, but if you’ve ever turned it off or it’s not enabled on a desktop you’ve built, you can easily toggle it.
Open Control Panel and choose Power Options > What the power buttons do. In the list of options, you should see a check box next to Turn on fast startup. If it’s grayed out, you’ll need to first click on the currently unavailable Change Settings link at the top of that window, and then enable Quick Start. Be sure to click the Save Changes button when you’re done.
Some computers have a Fast Boot setting in the BIOS. Unlike Fast Startup in Windows, the Fast Boot setting (or whatever it’s called on your motherboard) bypasses some of the initial tests your computer will run when it first starts up. If you overclock or otherwise need frequent access to the BIOS, you may want to turn it off, but if it’s not enabled, most people can benefit from turning it on.
Restart your computer, press the Delete key (or another key if required) to access the BIOS settings, and look for any fast boot settings in the menu. Some people also recommend changing your boot order priority (make sure your hard drive is at the top of the list, not your DVD drive or network drive), but I’ve never found it necessary to move the needle much.
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Every motherboard is different, so check your UEFI/BIOS settings to see if there are any other features you can enable or disable to speed up the boot process – your motherboard or computer manual can point you in the right direction.
The more programs you set to start at startup, the longer it will take for your computer to get into a useful state when you start it. Some of your startup programs may need to run all the time, but many probably don’t.
Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open Task Manager to see what’s running at startup. Click More information below, and then go to the Getting Started tab. You’ll get a list of programs running on your computer and Windows’ estimate of how much they’re affecting your boot time.
You’ll also see “Last BIOS Time” in the top right corner – this tells you how long it took the BIOS to hand over control to Windows, so if this number is more than a few seconds, you may want to reset. – check the BIOS settings as described above. In some cases you may have a slow motherboard like mine.
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If you see a program in this list that you do not need at startup, especially if it has a high startup effect, go to the settings of that program and uncheck the option to start it with Windows. (Dropbox, for example, is worth the launch effect because you want it running all the time – but you don’t need to have the Epic Games Launcher running on your PC.)
If you don’t see an option in the startup settings for that program, you can disable it from this Task Manager window to prevent it from starting at startup. You can also go to Settings > Apps > Startup and turn off anything you don’t want to open at startup.
In the address bar to access the startup folder. Any shortcuts added here will start automatically on boot – so if there’s anything you don’t want to start here, just remove it from the directory.
Finally, if you see any apps through this process that you don’t need at all, go ahead and uninstall them entirely – and it never hurts to run a malware scan while you’re at it. Bad actors running in the background can definitely slow down your download process.
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When Windows is updated, it takes time to install those updates when you shut down and often when you run a backup. If you’re tired of your PC “Preparing Windows” after an update when you want to play some games, you should let Windows do its thing when you’re not using the PC. However, this means allowing your machine to perform automatic updates.
To do this without interrupting your work, go to Settings > Update & security > Windows Update > Change active hours and click the Change button in Windows 10. Open Settings > Windows Update > Advanced options, then click Active hours and change the popup. If you’re on Windows 11, up to Manual.
Tell Windows when you use the device the most (say, 9 to 5) and it will try to do automatic updates and reboots when the system is idle. Read more about how this works in our guide to managing updates in Windows 10.
More and more modern computers have ditched the spinning mechanical hard drives of the past for faster solid-state drives, or SSDs. If you’re still using one of those old drives, it’s time to upgrade. Not only will programs launch instantly, but your computer will start up faster than with your old hard drive.
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Almost any computer with a spinning disk should easily upgrade to an SSD like the Samsung 870 EVO, which you can get for as cheap as $65 for 500GB. If you don’t want to start from scratch, our guide can help you migrate your Windows installation to an SSD. For complete step-by-step instructions, refer to the repair instructions for your specific laptop or desktop, as they may vary from machine to machine. For most computers, you don’t need much more than a screwdriver (and sometimes a torx bit).
Here’s the thing: a fresh boot from your hard drive will always be slower than going back to sleep. If you’re frustrated with how long it takes to start up your computer, consider putting it to sleep instead. Sleep may use slightly more power than full shutdown, but the difference in electricity costs is negligible. Sleep can also be difficult if you have background programs that wake your computer at random times, but we’ve got a guide to fix that.
However, closure still has its place. For example, if I put the laptop in my bag for a few days, I’ll probably turn it off completely. However, the more you use sleep, the less you’ll have to worry about that pesky start time.
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