Windows optimize

Poll: Realistically, how fast should a PC boot?

The TechRepublic Microsoft Windows Blog polls members: Realistically, how fast should a PC boot, from flipping the switch to ready to work?

I was born and raised in Louisville, KY (pronounced Lou-a-vull by us locals). And, as a consequence, I am quite familiar with the Kentucky Derby and the two weeks of activities, known as the Kentucky Derby Festival, that proceed the fastest two minutes in sports. During this two-week period, we race everything from rodents, to steamboats, to hot air balloons.

So in that spirit, and since I will be out of the office Friday to go to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Oaks day of races, I thought we should do a poll this week based on speed.

During my time here at TechRepublic, I have noticed a near obsession among members regarding boot times for their PCs. For some reason, members never feel that their PCs boot as fast as they should. We have published several tips over the years suggesting ways to decrease boot times. So that got me to thinking, how fast should a PC boot -- realistically? I mean, sure, we would all like instant boot times, but that is a horse of a different color, so to speak.

Personally, I think a boot time of under a minute is OK, but I get the distinct impression that I am in the minority. So, how fast should a PC boot? And by boot, I mean from the time you flip the switch to the time you can actually start using the PC. I want to include the behind-the-scene things that occur even after you login.

Oh, by the way, my wagers (subject to change) for the Kentucky Derby are Trifecta box 1, 16, 20 and a long-shot bet on 4. If you are planning to make a wager, good luck.

TechRepublic's Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report newsletter, delivered every Friday, offers tips, news, and scuttlebutt on Vista and Windows 7, including a look at new features in the latest version of the Windows OS. Automatically sign up today!

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

127 comments
david.dartnell
david.dartnell

As long as the PC boots in a reasonable amount of time I can't see the big deal. Generally speaking users can turn on a computer, and wait for a bit (do some stretches, grab a cup of tea, etc) without impacting their overall work output.

deICERAY
deICERAY

As fast as a BSOD appears during an upgrade from XP to WIN7.

Admin_surfer
Admin_surfer

This poll can't be answered without specifying the environment we are discussing...we need to know home or work environment as they are significantly different and are handled completely different. I believe and strive to configure Home pc's to make it in 60 secs or less....within the Work environment...we strive for 120 secs or less. However, not all environments are the same...some should be less...some will be more. If you mix group policy....boot time encryption....folder redirection...home folder mapping...virus protection, WSUS critical updates...etc etc into the barrel, there is no way you are reaching 120 or less as you are limited to the controls of the software processes which are limited and unconfigurable...so you pick your battles and tweak where possible to achieve the best possible usable desktop timeframe.

Dukhalion
Dukhalion

That's how long it took for an old PC I had to use at one of my previous jobs. It was great, I could start every morning with a long coffeebreak, and everytime the computer crashed, I had time to read the newspaper. And I got paid for it.

azbat
azbat

Seriously, my WinDoze PCs all take a nap, whether it has 2k, XP, Vista or 7 ...... you're still talking close to 1min or more ..... and yet the Linux PCs (some have the same hardware as the Windows PCs!) ..... are anywhere from 20sec>1min at the most from powering on to a loaded desktop. I also agree that even with the most modern hardware, the Windows 7 machines still load slow ...... not as bad a Vista, but still slow. There is still seriously too much bloat and processes running on the Windows boxes to lower the boot times, most of them its hard to disable at boot/startup without worrying that Windows itself will crash before you log in. Even the idea of making a 'lite' Windows version if you just need to log in to check something on the internet/email quick would make me much happier, a base stripped down OS, maybe just Antivirus running ... enough to get online or pull a file without loading all the rest of the bloat.

leorickg
leorickg

I'm running an asrock motherboard and recently decided to try the "instant boot" thing and wow. It's like a giant laptop, only better. When i power on my PC, it takes 4 seconds for the entire thing to become ready. The downside is, you have to keep AC power always on and shutting down the PC takes a bit longer than usual.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

30 sec or less. Improvements to _some_ OSes in the administrative design could allow this. If a OS was installed with a 'System' partition, an 'Install' (Apps)partition, a 'Data' partition, a 'Swap' partition, and a 'Trash' partition,... the System part. could be put on a Compact Flash adapted to the IDE bus. (The System part. would be 'cleaned' of EXEs, COMs, unneeded DLLs, etc.) Essentially, the only part of the System partition that would be written-to would be the registry. (Due to installation-deinstallation of apps.) It would 'never' need defragging. The Apps/Installs partition _might_ want defragging once a year. It would be pointless to defrag 'Swap' or 'Trash'. Most defragging could be concentrated on the Data partition. With the excellent auto defrag available on Smart Defrag (& Auslogics?) the machine would seem to never slow down to the point of needing replacement. This, of course, would cause great consternation to Microsoft and the OEMs. They would never provide for that. The 'User Community' would have to do it ourselves.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Take any new system. Install a fresh copy of Windows and it boots up quite fast. Start adding bloated drivers [think the Logitech webcam stuff, HP printer stuff], anti-virus and firewall software and other stuff and that slows the system down quite a bit on boot up.

Zzyzyx
Zzyzyx

One of the things I love about my iPod Touch is that I turn it on and it is ready to go. I mean 0 seconds to boot!!! I think that is what seems appealing to me about the iPad (what a dumb name). I can just turn it on and look at the internet whenever I want. With a PC or laptop, if it is not booted already (or in Standby mode) I'll probably just say it isn't worth it. Unless I have "a lot" of work I want to do then I'm not going to turn it on for just a few seconds to look something up, or access my Google Docs, etc. The worst thing about Windows is that over time after all the patching and new programs that are added, it just keeps getting slower and slower even if the computer isn't hardware challenged. Even when you don't have all these programs running at startup, the registry gets so bloated it is unbelievable. As for patching I have seen Gigabytes of storage on the hard drive in the Windows directory for patches that have been applied. What is up with that?

PKA
PKA

A lot faster than my loaded win7 ultima

jfuller05
jfuller05

It's not just with a computer's boot time; patience is almost a forgotten quality in people within the last twenty years (est.) For your computer, use hibernation; that way it doesn't have to restart.

dsperry
dsperry

It would be nice if it was instantaneous, but that is not always the case.

cosmofur
cosmofur

I work in support, when installing software, debugging problems or loading drivers, on a troublesome machine, I may have to reboot it between 10-30 times before the problem is fixed. I hate hate HATE slow reboots. So at least from my point of view, 0 seconds is just barely fast enough.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

With Sleep, Hibernate, and other power saving settings, how relevant is boot time these days? On Monday I boot my workplace desktop and leave it on until Friday afternoon. At home, my desktop sleeps after 30 minutes; I usually don't reboot it until an Windows patch requires it. I suspect laptop users reboot even less often.

Darren B - KC
Darren B - KC

Here at the office, we have quite a few older Dell Dimension models that can take anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to boot fully. Some of them have more startup items than others and it will also depend a little bit on how many other people are booting thier systems on the network at the same time. Yes, most users complain about their boot times but quite a few of them have adopted hibernation instead of shutting down at the end of the day. And yes, I tell them that thier roaming profile won't get checked in if they use hibernate. (They usually hibernate through the week but do a full shut down on Friday.) We also have some new Dell Vostro 220's (still with XP Pro) that boot in under 2 minutes, so those users are pretty happy compared to what they used to have. My system at home is a gaming rig for the most part, but I very rarely shut it down and only reboot when absolutely necessary. (new drivers, updates, etc.) Otherwise, it's on 24/7. It has Window 7 Ultimate 32-bit with a Core i7 920 and 4GB of memory, so boot times are decent at around 1 minute, maybe a bit less. (I have to disable the Driver Signing Enforcement during bootup, so that takes a few extra seconds.) Nevertheless, I hate it when I have to reboot because I'm just one of those impatient people that doesn't want to have to wait more than a few seconds (if that) to get back to a ready-to-use desktop. I don't think an instant-on sytem is realistic, however. It would be awesome, but...

kno789
kno789

I clicked on this link because I thought I would get some suggestions for decreasing my boot-up time, but I didn't see any suggestions.... Anyone have any???

mgmorgan01
mgmorgan01

Also should ask how should it take a PC to shutdown. My W7 notebook boots in reasonable time, but it takes forever to shut down. It is connected to NDAS drives.

VirtualPro
VirtualPro

Around a minute would be great. However it appears over time it degrades and gets worst. After about a year you start approaching 10 to 15 minutes its time to reinstall. Maybe its a Bill Gates built-in upgrade feature beacuse at some point the support guys give you the next release when rebuilding.

jstribling
jstribling

It should (and ultimately will) boot as fast as it takes to get a dial tone when you pick up the phone.

pgit
pgit

hit the button.. grab a coffee... what's the rush?

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

show the logon screen as fast as possble with all the other processes starting up in the background. Boot time is to tile logon screen. Logon time is a different matter and has many variables.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Come on, get real. With power saving and current disks this is not a realistic option at present. Zero seconds - that means NO TIME whatsoever to boot, not evean a nano. Gheez..

john3347
john3347

My computer is not ready to go to work when the login prompt comes up. I see many who use that as boot time to show a small number. From the time I push the start button until SUPER AntiSpyware is loaded and HP print driver is loaded and ready to go to work is lacking only a few seconds of 3 minutes. Since the computer is started only once a day or once every few days, I think that is totally acceptable time. If one wants to save some time, they should be more concerned with application load time than boot time.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

is suspending to RAM instead of the hard drive...

Mr.Wally
Mr.Wally

That's the critical question here. If the OS is up in less than 30 seconds but other background applications (some with external Internet connections) also are automatically initiated after boot or login, then we still have to wait before using the computer. My Apple II, circa 1977, booted instantly. It looks like computers are getting slower, not faster.

OdeonIT
OdeonIT

In the text of the full article, there is a link named "decrease boot times" that points to http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=boot+speed+site%3Atechrepublic.com.com&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=, which is a Google search of the TR web site, showing all of the articles they have already posted on the issue. If you don't find enough information, try a standard Google search and be sure to add your OS. For example, try ["Windows Vista" bootup] or ["Windows XP" "boot time"] (without the brackets).

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

At home I have no problem getting my Windows 7 Ult x64 fully loaded and logged in in

2rs
2rs

Used to be, dial tone actually was generated via step-by-step machines. One could actually walk along a bank of cans (switches) and visually follow the process from off-hook to dial tone. In those days, there was a round thingy with a hole for each number on the phone that you had to rotate to dial the phone number, AFTER you got the "dial" tone. Course, nowadays, it's all done totally electronically - flash - there it is! But the portion of the machine that is generating the dial tone has only one thing to do - get the dial tone through the connection to your earbud or receiver. Once the number is input, another part of the machine takes over, etc. Simplicity compared to the way my computer functions!

Madsmaddad
Madsmaddad

1. switch on computer 2. switch on kettle. 3. make coffee 4. return to computer. Boot time doesn't matter as long as it is not longer than kettle time. 3 overlaps with 2, but 2,3,4 is the critical path.

LedLincoln
LedLincoln

I consider it booted when the hard drive stops churning.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Are we discussing true 'boot time', or the amount of time it takes everything to load after login - network connections, update and policy pushes, auto loaded apps, etc?

merlyn
merlyn

I don't consider a computer 'booted' until it is ready to do the work I want without waitng. If all startup processes are not finished it is not booted up.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

lock down and trimming, especially home users. The big question with that, is - Why do Microsoft set so much stuff wide open and on by default, instead of having it default off and secure? I doubt we'll ever know the true answer.

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

First off, plz stop with the damned NT thing... Its annoying, it makes your point look weak and empty. For production PCs who reboot them anyway. Im working on my SOx audit right now and I have PCs that were up since late 2009... Im not saying that having computers working for 150 days++ in a row is the greatest idea ever but it is what it is. It goes to say that my images are rock solid.

LedLincoln
LedLincoln

They could work on lengthening the brew time of coffee!

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

where it took you fifteen minutes to get a cup of tea, as you had to pass through a double security check point to get out of the room - nothing not essential to the work was allowed in, not even a kettle.

merlyn
merlyn

I agree, when HD stops churning or when I can click on an Icon and get an immediate response.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

I agree with you. Especially with those with slower/old systems, I tell people, turn on the computer, do something for a few minutes and then come to the PC. I also tell them if you try and access the applications as soon as you see the desktop, it will take longer for everything [fustrating the user]. I did some test on a bare Win 7 installation. After boot up, it took close to 10 minutes for the system to be completely stabolized. That means going through the various checking for updates and other stuff. By that time, the amount of RAM used decreased quite a bit. I did notice that they are starting to include [embed?] the built on OS [usually Linux] where you can do some basic stuff such as web surfing. Asus did it [first?]. HP is doing it now as well. I'm sure others are as well. Takes maybe 10-15 seconds to get to the "desktop".

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

controls. The current default setting for Win 7 Home Premium is so wide open to external attack, it does everything EXCEPT send an Internet wide broadcast message saying "Open here, come take me." - on second thoughts, it may even do that, and I just haven't found the spot where it's happening. No one with a tenth of a brain sets a firewall up with default allow settings for external access to accounts that the administrator can not control - yet MS does just that.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

than Windows to use now. Earlier this week, I spent over an hour shutting down remote access security holes set open by Microsoft as part of the default installation of Win 7 Home Premium - they're set open so the MS techs can remotely access the system at any time. I don't know of a single home user who calls MS for tech help and then doesn't hang up when told what the charges are going to be if they wish to go ahead. I could have turn secured the system in a couple of minutes simply by disabling the user accounts the remote access people use - except Microsoft have REMOVED that capability from the Win 7 Home versions. Where an ordinary user used to be able to close and open those accounts, you now need a qualified tech to do the same thing by adjusting firewall rules. The system was wide open to external attack before I did the work as the firewall rules were set to allow for outside access. And people wonder why so many machines get taken over as bots - MS sets them up to be taken over.

Tommy S.
Tommy S.

Its market share is around 90% so they need to have it ready for any scenario. Deactivating services and restricting the user powers would only increase their amount of service calls. It does decrease security, but they probably see that as the better solution. And I somewhat agree with MS. I dont think that security by restricting the user powers is the way to go for a consumer OS(i.e. why people, including me, HATE MACs/OSX). And I would say that the casual end user doesnt have the skill to use a separate restricted/admin account or even understand the concept of it or its benefits. But in a corporate IT shop, being able to create well tuned ghosts is not an optional skill.

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

Users complain when things don't work and they don't realize that it's just because a feature was disabled. That is the reason that Linux is mainly used by computer geeks or by people that had a computer geek set up their computer. Bill

pgit
pgit

about the organizations wherein a few seconds per user per day add up. My 'lapse' in such consideration is purely practical, I have made sure I deal with no such clients. =D In fact I can't imagine any such exist around here, except maybe the one fortune 500 company, but of course IT is pretty well sewn up there, in house for the most part.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm not sure what your problem is with 'NT', but I appreciate it when someone tells me there is no text in the body of a message. It saves time opening a post only to discover it's empty. Maybe it's frowned on in other forums you participate in. Here, it's considered polite.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

1. If I can say it all in the title, why not do so and use the NT note to let you know there's no more in the post as the 'nt' means no text - TR speak. Adding more text just to make it look longer makes the point look a lot weaker than using the NT tag. 2. Not all machines are or can be left up all the time due to many reasons. not all work environments are the same. a. In the past, I've worked in an area where you had to turn off the machine as soon as you ceased using it - mandated security precaution. b. I've worked in places where ALL electrical devices were turned off at night - no ifs, not buts, no maybes, that was the rule from on high. c. I've worked in environments where the machines were covered with clothes and only turned on as needed, about four or five times a day for a few minutes each. If left turned on, they burnt out in months due to the environment on the shop floor, and they had to be on the shop floor as they were useless if not on hand when needed. d. I've also worked in environments where we could walk in, turn on the computer, and go off for a cup of tea if we wanted to. And also environments where that was not allowed and you had to sit and stare at the screen until it started. e. I've worked in places where all the work was done on the computer and you couldn't do a thing until it was up and running. .............. My point here, is - NOT all work environments cater to you wandering off to do other tasks while the computer boots. A few minutes a day per employee can add up to many thousands of dollars per year, in some organisations. The decision to reboot or not is very, very rarely up to the user, but to some executive basing their decision on many factors not known to the users. My system at home is only ever down for long absences, more than 12 hours, or power failures. But, evens so, it still comes up in only seconds when I restart it.

bckerr
bckerr

Bring one in through the ceiling, works in Mission Impossible movies! :-)