Data Doctors: Tips for slow-starting computers

Q: I’ve got a Windows computer that takes forever to start up; are there ways to make it faster?

A: A well-maintained computer should start up at about the same speed as when you first got it, so if you haven’t done much to clean it up, I’d start there.

Many apps will insert themselves into your computer’s startup menu, contributing to slow startup speeds.

First, do a review of the apps you have installed by going to Settings > Apps > Apps & Features and uninstalling those you don’t want or need.

The default view will list the apps in alphabetical order, but I’d recommend you review the list based on the install date, which you can change via the “Sort by:” option. This will show you the most recently added items, along with the date they were installed, which can be very helpful if you noticed a slowdown in the recent past.

Each listed app will have three dots to the right of the entry, which will allow you to uninstall it when you click it.

If you don’t recognize something, be sure to do a little research on what it does before removing it — some items are vital to the proper operation of your computer.

What’s in Startup?

Once you’ve gotten rid of unneeded apps, it’s time to see what your computer is being instructed to load every time it starts.

Go to Settings > Apps > Startup to show what is currently loading at startup, but change the ‘Sort by:’ option from ‘Name’ to ‘Startup impact’.

The list will now show you the items that are in startup that will have a high impact on your computer, so if they’re not important, turn them off.

If you’re troubleshooting, only change one item at a time and restart your computer to see whether that app was causing your problems.

Full scan for malware

Malware and viruses that sneak into your computer can also affect your computer’s performance, so a complete scan of your system would be next.

Whatever you have installed to protect your computer from viruses and malware will have the option to do a full scan of your system, which you will have to manually select.

If you aren’t sure where the option is, do a Google search for “(name of your program) full scan setting” for instructions.

Upgrade to SSD

If you have an older computer that uses magnetic platters that spin up to get your computer started, upgrading to a much faster Solid State Drive (SSD) is one of the best “bang for the buck” upgrades you can choose.

Unless you know how to transfer data and switch out the hardware, seek professional assistance to select the right drive and get it set up.

Sleep mode

Unless you aren’t going to use your computer for a long time, instead of shutting it completely down, use Sleep Mode to keep your computer ready to respond quickly when woken up.

Numerous options can be configured when you search for “sleep mode” in the Control Panel, but if using it causes issues, it’s an indication of other underlying problems that need to be addressed.

Ken Colburn is the founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services. Ask any tech question on his Facebook page or on Twitter.

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