Computer Startup Time – Current Problems, Future Advancements, and Solutions You Can Consider For Now


Computer Startup Time – Current Problems, Future Advancements, and Solutions You Can Consider For Now
By Neon Zidaneneon.zidane@gmail.com

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Table of Contents

Introduction – Booting Process

Current Startup Issues

Future Innovations and Advancements

What You Can Do For Now

End Notes and Conclusion

Introduction – Booting Process

First of all let’s familiarize ourselves with how the computer boots up. It’s a very simple to understand process. When you first press out the power button, the computer goes through an initialization process. Firstly, it’s important to check if a CPU is present and functional. If there is an error related to the CPU, depending on your motherboard model, it your motherboard might make a beeping sound, flash the power light, start to smoke, or burst into flames (no biggie 😉 ). Usually, after this, if you have a multiple CPU configuration system, one CPU (CPU 0) is selected to run the BIOS and initialize the kernel (a central component of your operating system which will “turn on” the remaining CPUs). At startup, a CPU can only address 1MB of memory, but some Intel processors have a special configuration where they use the last 16 bytes of the memory.

Then the computer starts executing the BIOS code, and starts checking for present hardware (Power on self test). Usually when there is a hardware error, it will display a message on the screen and make a beeping sound. Most motherboards make a beeping sound because if your video card turns out to be not functional, how else can they convey the message to you? Many of the modern (post 1996) BIOSs can use Advanced Power Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) to list devices the computer has, and then the kernel uses this information.

After the POST, the BIOS wants to find an operating system to boot. It will search through a list of devices in a user-configurable order (CD, Hard Drive, Floppy, USB flash drives, memory cards, etc.) otherwise it will present you an error that says “Non System Disk or Disk Error” which could indicate that the disk could not be boot from. This could mean the disk is not functioning (broken hard drive, scratched/bad CD, etc.) or a configuration error you have made. If a bootable device is found though, the BIOS will read sector 0, the first 512 byte sector of the disk (remember that sector n-1 is the last sector of the hard drive where n is the total amount of sectors on the drive). Important data is in there: a boot sector. It also contains a partition table, 64 bytes – 16 bytes per partition (That’s why you can’t create more than 4 partitions on a hard drive, you will have to use a logical partition).

Since the boot sector is so small (460 bytes of usable space), it will either 1) launch another boot sector, 2) launch a second stage boot loader (could be DOS loader, NTLDR, BCD, GRUB, Lilo, maybe some strange virus you got off some website you shouldn’t be visiting anyways, etc.), or 3) Directly launch the kernel and start the operating system. Either way, if configured correctly, your computer will be told where an operating system is located and a file that will start the kernel. Your operating system splash screen will appear and in a few moments you are ready to use your computer system!

Current Startup Issues

How many things can you do in the time it takes your computer to start up? This means from turning on, operating system loading, then to a point where everything is ready, and you’re ready to start your favourite application (If your login is password protected, don’t count that!). Make a coffee? Make your entire breakfast? Go to school/work and then come home to find out your computer has FINALLY started up? Computers, unlike some other electronics, aren’t in a ready state the moment you turn them on. For example, a television would be ready within a few seconds of you turning it on, a phone would be ready the instant you turn it on. Even your CD player, DVD player, or Blu-ray player would be almost instantly ready when you turn it on. Usually you’re only waiting for it to spin up the disc.

The vast amount of resources a modern operating system requires, and the speed limitations of hard drives, processors, and other hardware aren’t appealing to users. Solid state drives are a possible solution, but remember that there are always new software advancements, too. As hardware advancements are being made, operating systems are also becoming more resource-crunching, we might have a lot of trouble dealing with operating system startup issues in the future.

Future Innovations and Advancements

Computer startup times have been a frustrating issue for many computer users. The bad news is that there hasn’t been a method to completely elimate the wait time during computer startup, but the good news is many computer manufacturers are finding solutions to this dilemma. Microsoft’s Windows Vista has been said to be a huge blunder in computing technology and has been one of the primary targets in Apple’s “Get a Mac” advertising campaign (Makes me wonder how they will target Windows 7 in the future). Windows 7 is said by many to be a vast improvement over Windows Vista, most notably in terms of performance, and one of the apparent things Microsoft has tacked is startup time. It’s finally about time, after decades of computing technology, that we are finding ways to cure startup issues.

A leading BIOS manufacturer, Phoenix BIOS has shaved the POST time to about a second. But that doesn’t really affect the time it takes your Windows operating system to start up. The American-based Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo has tackled Windows starting times by taking advantage of Microsoft’s newest innovation; Windows 7. They have added the “Enhanced Experience” to many of their newer products, which claims they can slim down Windows 7 boot times by a whopping 56% times faster than XP or Vista. Such computers that have been optimized for this purpose will bear a sexy Windows 7 logo and a “Lenovo Enhanced Experience” sticker.

What You Can Do For Now

Remember it takes a while for us to invent an “instantly ready” computer system. Meanwhile, you can do many things to your computer that will chop your starting time down. All these features will work on modern operating systems, and will make a big impact no matter what your system specifications are.

  1. Remove all unnecessary programs that start up when your computer starts up. There are many ways to do this and many tutorials on how to accomplish this. For example, on Windows go to Start > Run > msconfig and you will be presented with a list of services for you to disable. Make sure you are disabling unnecessary services, otherwise your computer will boot in safe mode because some essential services could not be started. You can do a web search of some necessary processes that you can remove (such as search indexing). When installing programs, remove the option to start up when your computer starts.
  2. Do a complete scan of your computer for malware – viruses, adware, spyware, all need to be gone. Update your antivirus software frequently (turn on automatic updates if the feature is available).
  3. Perform a disk defragmentation, disk cleanup, and remove all temporary files your browser stores.
  4. Use the standby or hibernate mode on your computer. Standby uses minimal power (on desktops they use the +5 volt stand by) to suspend the memory to RAM (because RAM is volatile memory – it requires power to maintain stored information). Hibernate saves your session to your disk, and allows you to completely turn off your computer and/or unplug the power from your computer. When you turn on your computer, your session is resumed instantly (for stand-by) or after a while for hibernate because your computer has to load the data from the hard drive to the RAM.
  5. Tweak your visual settings for performance. On Windows, right click My Computer, click the advanced tab, and click “Performance.” Remove the boxes out of some unnecessary features you don’t need. I leave Animate Windows, Show Window Contents While Dragging, Smooth Edges of Screen Fonts, Use Drop Shadows for Icon Labels on the Desktop, and Use Visual Styles On Windows and Buttons.

End Notes and Conclusion

There is a wealth of information on the internet, and it should be one of your sources for obtaining information on virtually any computer subject. There are rapid advancements in computers and one day, who knows – computers will have instant startup along with ease of use so everyone can use a computer and take advantage of its many features.


This content is written by Neon Zidane. The author accepts no liability whatsoever for the validity, accuracy, completeness, or quality of the content provided. Liability claims against the author relating to material or non-material damages, caused by the use or misuse of the information provided, or by the use of flawed or incomplete information are basically excluded. The author expressly reserves the right to modify, supplement, delete parts of this information or the without separate notification, or to end the publication in part or completely.

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About the author

Email: neon.zidane@gmail.com

Website: http://neonzidane.cleowin.com

1 Comment Leave yours

  1. “…Vista has been said to be a huge blunder in computing technology and has been one of the primary targets in Apple’s “Get a Mac” advertising campaign (Makes me wonder how they will target Windows 7 in the future).”
    However, Windows 7 is considered by many (myself included) to be the Vista Microsoft intended to put out on the market originally, and not a “new operating system” as Microsoft claims. This may serve as a major basis for other companies attempting to target Windows 7.

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