Control Windows Startup Applications
The startup speed of Windows XP is very dependent on the number of applications that are automatically started during Windows startup. Part of computer usage is to install additional computer software. Although a lot of applications add useful functionality to the computer, many of them configure part of the application to be started when Windows starts. Typical applications that do this are hardware drivers (printers, video cards, etc.) and security software.
For some of this software it is necessary or beneficial to be running at the start, but it is certainly not required for all these applications. And it definitely has a negative impact on the startup time, Windows can boot slow as a result. So it is better to select which applications you want to start during Windows startup and which not.
Everyone is probably familiar with the Startup folder in Windows. Applications present in this folder are automatically started during Windows startup. Removing applications from this folder that are not required to start will speed up your system start.
The startup folder is however not the only method of starting applications automatically in Windows XP. The registry also has some options that allow applications to be started at load time.
Controlling these applications can of course be done directly by using a registry editor, like regedit in Windows. You need to know where to look in the registry and how to change the registry. Easier is to use a free applications from Microsoft called Autoruns. The application can be downloaded at: www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/utilities/autoruns.mspx.
When started, the autoruns application will show everything that is loaded during Windows startup, drivers, services and applications. The various tabs in the application interface allow easy access to the categories. Using the description, publisher and image path, it is easy to select software that is not needed at computer startup. Clear the checkbox in front of the entries that you want to disable.
Next time you boot your PC, the startup time should be a lot less. Windows will load faster and probably also use less memory at startup. If your system is low on memory this will be especially good since the page file usage will be reduced.
Note: If you want to start Windows without starting the applications in the startup folder, you can press and hold the Shift key during startup. This is a one-time function though.