PCs

Poll Results: Realistically, how fast should a PC boot?

How did your peers answer this question: Realistically, how fast should a PC boot? Are you in the not fast enough camp?

On April 29, 2010, I polled the TechRepublic membership with a very specific question:

Realistically, how fast should a PC boot?

I prefaced the poll question with the following observation, which was not disputed by the lengthy discussion that accompanied the poll when it was published:

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.

The consensus answer from well over 3,000 respondents was actually not in the fastest category I thought it would be, which leads me to believe that there is a vocal and passionate minority who have a great need for speed when it comes to booting a PC. On the other hand, there are still plenty of members like me who can live with a 30-second boot time. There were also more people than I had expected who found a boot time of over two minutes acceptable.

Which group do you belong to -- the "never fast enough" or the "it's fast enough more or less" group?

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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.

38 comments
Alienwilly
Alienwilly

Man creates a machine that can be ready to work in a minute or so and the first problem is it's not fast enough. When you wake up in the morning, how long does it take you to be ready to work? That's what I thought. A machine has to have prep time just like you. It's not that the machine is not fast enough, it's the human factor. Instant gratification society, that's exactly whats wrong with our whole system. Oh!, and good luck with that instant boot idea with your computer. I would prefer to see that process incorporated into our political system than my computer. An instant "BOOT" into their political BUTT.

FLESHHOPw
FLESHHOPw

If it's under a minute it's ok. When I need the computer up and running quick then I have problem if it's starts more than a minute. Vista is always over a minute, Ubuntu is under 20 seconds XP is around 30. I run all systems on the same computer on separate drives. I use ESATA to switch drives and operating systems.

stevestrib
stevestrib

An OCZ ssd put my computer into the 30 seconds or less catagory. The hd was expensive but the performance is incredible. Virus scan for entire computer takes less than 5 minutes!

XnavyDK
XnavyDK

Maybe people are just getting faster. Win 7 loads pretty fast for me, about a minute or so. But then again I'm not an average user sitting at the coffee table waiting for their +/- 5 year old pentium II class laptop to start up with their whopping 128meg of ram. People want to sit down, hit the button and it be on. They don't care what has to be done to do that. what they don't realize the technological advances it takes to make that happen. Its not a car. Even tv's now take some time to start up. Granted the tv/car start up is the same process over and over and should never change. But sheeple are always changing stuff on the computer, adding and removing software and the like. which will change the start up time. Advances OS and hardware will allow instant on someday and the masses will rejoice and then take if for granted anyway.

xioc1138
xioc1138

Virtually any time is acceptable if you are willing to acknowledge that virtually any computer, mac, Linux, or Windows PC, is going to boot based on what you have it doing during boot up. I have two machines that will boot in less than 2 seconds. They are linux servers. They cost around 20k each. I have several windows machines that will boot in less than 30 seconds. They are simple desktops and don't run a lot of bells and whistles. I have several business class servers that have great hardware, but load a TON of services. They can take upwards of 5-10 minutes to completely boot up. Faster boot times are great, but you have to pay for it and be willing to not taint the cycle with your own toys. Computers, no matter what platform, are like trucks. We buy them to do work for us (so that we can do work or so that we can have fun). You more you load into any truck, the less performance you are going to get from it.

sullivanjc
sullivanjc

It should be on and responding at all times just like Star Trek.

blackepyon01
blackepyon01

I'm not so much conserned with how long my OS takes to load. I'm concerned with how much background hard drive activity and processing the OS does when it's loaded and I'm trying to use it.

bobbyroebling
bobbyroebling

my linux boots in about 15 seconds and that makes me smile everytime I start it up

cbw5005
cbw5005

My buddy and I had this conversation just the other day on how necessary fast boot speeds are. I recently built a desktop, moderately powerful machine, does everything I need it to do. I'm running Ubuntu on it, and Windows 7 on my laptop. My buddy stated he'll never use Ubuntu because it take 15-20 seconds on average longer to boot than my windows 7 machine. I'm saying what difference does it make? What could you possibly be doing that requires the access as soon as you power on. Honestly, boot time should be expected, we've all grown up with computers, we know how they work, the harder you push it the more likely it is to flake on you. Sometimes my laptop off hibernation boots in less than 10 seconds, sometimes less than 30 depends what was running when I closed the lid. If I hibernate my Ubuntu machine its usually back up & operational in less than 10 seconds, always. Funny thing is, I run Ubuntu on a thinkpad T42 I have as well, and boot up is the only thing it does fast! Funny how things like that wo

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Go get coffee. Always ready to go when I get back. B-)

abiemann
abiemann

I typically start mine up from Hibernate and it's ready in under 30secs. I just wish that Networking was ready faster

Peconet Tietokoneet
Peconet Tietokoneet

To have a fast computer you need to spend a lot of money for faster components, I:E, faster hdd's, fast motherboard, processor, fast memory and a very good power supply unit of all which produces a good amount of heat so a big cooling fan (or fans) need to be installed also, unless you go for a water cooled system of which bumps up the price some what. Some people do not mind how long a system boots as long as it works and they can afford such a computer. Now a days a computer will boot under two minutes.

AbyBeats
AbyBeats

60 secs gets into uncomfortable zone.

LeMike
LeMike

So why don't I use Ubuntu? I do! However, my work laptop is Windows XP because that's what my work tools run on (SQL Server 2000, 2005, 2008, Oracle). My laptop takes about 5 minutes to boot, but it uses that time to load four RDBMS and a number of other programs. After that, it's fine. While I'd like it to be faster I honestly can't see that happening with Win7. If I could package things up, so I only spent the two minutes loading and running Oracle, say, when I needed to use it then that would be an advantage. Or get MS to licence Ubuntu ..... please!

BookiesDad
BookiesDad

The frustration of slow boot times is a direct function of how often a system is booted. We have an environment which requires 2 or 3 startup and logon scripts to run. If one line in a script is to map a drive to a WAN resource; or launch a VPN app or whatever; those tasks alone can take as much time as to boot that standalone email checker on Ms. Doe's kitchen counter. Boot time is just what it needs to be, for the system to perform the role it's supposed to perform. When end users don't like the wait, I encourage them to multitask; if the system takes 2 minutes to boot, then do something else that also takes a couple of minutes. It's like any other time management. No one complains that a two minute egg takes two minutes to make. They just occupy themselves for that two minutes, then they enjoy their egg. What's the problem?

djones
djones

Apart from the Green Teams screaming "it uses power when left on" I agree. I was always under the impression that turning on and off your PC is likely to cause more harm (power surges etc) than leaving it on. And like you said - Zero second boot time when you arrive in the office !

thomasz07
thomasz07

From a cold start mine is ready in 1 min 27 sec. from hibernate its ready to go in under 30 sec.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Just turn back the clock, computers have been booting up slower every year. Computing power may be 300 times more powerful than it was 15 years ago, but systems now boot in almost 3 times the time or more.

ecmorgan69
ecmorgan69

How about right frakking now? My time is important to me, and waiting for Windows to run through it's interminable bootup sequence of countless files and DLLs and services makes me want to put my fist through my monitor. And that's with decaf! How about a lean and mean OS without all the clutter? Load stuff as you need it. Hell, where are these hybrid drives? Why do we have exponential increases in processing power and PCs still take 30-60 seconds to boot? Damn...

mafergus
mafergus

It's shouldn't take any longer then starting the display.

gak
gak

When I reboot into Arch Linux it boots in about 10 seconds. Cold boot is about 20 seconds. I guess 10 seconds is what the boot time will be if minimal amount of thought is applied. Ubuntu's goal is also to boot in 10 seconds.

airjos
airjos

I think the user login and password should be entered at the initial screen on power up. There's no sense in making the user wait 15-20 seconds to enter a password, then wait another 20-30 seconds or more to load the os. Perhaps a grub method for this exists already, if so, please post a link or suggestion.

ps.techrep
ps.techrep

I think that the PC itself should be able to start loading the BIOS within 10 seconds after the "green" power supply is powered on. The PC should be able to load the kernel of the OS within 10 seconds of completing the BIOS. That this isn't now possible is due to bloated kernel code that must be stored on hard drives. The reason that PC startup is so slow is because of the large number of applications that are loaded prior to the owner/user being given control of the machine. The more applications that could be made read-only, the faster the PC could be made to load, since AV software wouldn't have to scan them every time they loaded. I suggest that the core issues of speed and security could be greatly improved if it were impossible to install new applications during a normal user session, i.e. install applications out of band into protected storage, run them in RO protected memory space. All applications installation packages should be required to be digitally signed and encrypted.

fatman65535
fatman65535

I remember the old TRS-90 Model ! I used to have. From power on to a command line in 15 - 20 seconds BOOTING FROM A FLOPPY DISK. BTW - those machines {mid 1970's} did NOT have a GUI (or is that a GLI - Graphical LUSER Interface); just the good old command line.

Snak
Snak

.... by applying a little lateral thinking. DISC Operating Systems have always been rubbish. It may be true that the technology runs faster today but as one commenter has mentioned (I'd cite, but it means going back, dumping this and starting again), boot times seem to be longer. As far back as 1986 I suggested that an EPROM (Electrically Programmable Read Only Memory [chip]) carrying the OS would allow instant boot times with easy updates. Updates could either reprogram the PROM or use a simple replacement system. Today, a system similar to PCMCIA could be used. However (being a cynic) I suppose disc manufacturers would stomp on that idea. Roll on solid state drives......

j-mart
j-mart

Each new version boots up into desktop faster than last. Debian 5.2 with KDE about 20 sec. A positive sign of good work by programers.

Peconet Tietokoneet
Peconet Tietokoneet

Until the companies address the restrictions on the motherboards we are not going to see any more speed as of yet. You can make your system speed up a bit by buying faster components (as in my earlier post), usually memory and harddrives. I have been testing the speed of some components, mostly hdd's and memory, to see if i can make my system(s) faster, the out come is that the fast hdd's are better at getting your system to boot faster. The "basic" (normal) setup some people have do not boot up any faster than they did in the past, so yes i agree with you on that SinisterSlay. But the way i look at computers, more powerful does not always mean faster bootups. But computers are going in the right direction with solid state drives.

xxxtheo
xxxtheo

i'm so with youon this....

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]Load stuff as you need it. [/i] Based on your post, all that will do is provide more times for you to want to put your fist through the monitor.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

But even today's SSDs have a limited number of writes available. Size has been a problem as well. My C:\Windows (XP SP3) is over 7GB. It's only been the last couple of years that 8BG flash drives were affordable. Add in Microsoft's lack of sympathy for anybody without a help subscription, and you're asking for trouble for the everyday user.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Is instant-on, like yourself, come prepared for all that is.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Back in those days, metals technology was already relatively matured, while semi-conductor technology was a relative infant.

Snak
Snak

and obviously correct. But then that's where the research money has gone. It may have been a different story had the research money been aimed at onboard ROM. Flash drives show that research into chip-based storage and execution bears fruit. But rather than labour the point any further, I'll let my employer keep paying me for waiting for my PC to boot. No sweat.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Way back in the early days, OSs were loaded on ROMs, simply because even floppy drives were much more expensive. But that norm was driven by economics. When the economics changed, so did the norm. As mechanical drive costs came down, more and more consumers (and OEMs) opted for the much less expensive floppy drive, then the hard drive. Look at the ratio of the cost per byte for a hard drive and equivalent PROM. In 1985, it was about 1:2, and that doesn't include the programming hardware (this was before FLASH technology). What is it today? A 500 GB hard drive can be had for about $50, ten cents/GB; a 32BG flash drive for about $70, about $2.19/GB. Do the numbers and you get 1:22. That ratio has actually [u]increased[/u] since the 1980s.

Snak
Snak

.... it's the fact that whilst you're waiting, even a few seconds seems much longer. When I sit down to my computer, I'm ready to start work (or play) and the wait, however long, is frustrating. In the great scheme of things, in the course of a year, and powering up your PC everyday but the 24 you're away from work/home, a 30 second boot is 2 hours of your life. I can spend that much time thinking about what I'm going to do with the thing when it IS powered up. So yes, it's a pain, waiting for it to fire up but not the end of the world - however the onboard ROM idea would also speed up OS interactions whilst it's running too, so the overall increase in productivity would be much much more. A note on flash drive technology: True 8Gb flash sticks are relatively new and operating systems have needed large storage for a while longer - that's a valid point but I think if ROM-based OS's had been the norm, that technology would have developed more quickly.

tbc9684
tbc9684

I don't see how much productivity is lost in a 30 second, or even a 2 minute boot time. Yeah a lightning fast boot time would be nice, but how many people in a production environment spend more time than that going to get coffee or to text someone. Also, everyone wants to step up in the world and go with bigger and better, and the bigger the OS the more files and processes it has to get started to be up and running. If people have complaints about that they should have stuck with DOS or even a Linux command prompt.