How To Make Your Computer Boot Faster

by Tim Chesonis | Last Updated: November 17, 2020

Waiting for your computer to boot up is a pain, and sometimes it feels like it takes forever to get to your desktop.  Is there anything you can do to make your computer boot up faster?

There are 3 things you can do right now to make your computer boot up faster.  You can remove startup programs, add RAM, and an SSD hard drive which will drastically decrease your boot time to less than 20 seconds, while at the same time, significantly increasing how fast your programs will start and run.

We all want our computers to boot faster so that we can work on a project, play a game, surf the internet, or any one of a dozen or more things.  We want instant gratification and get frustrated when we can’t have it.  So, in an attempt to gain access to our desktop as quickly as possible, we look for ways to increase boot time.  In this article, I will show you what you can do to make your computer boot to your desktop faster.

Replace your Mechanical Hard Drive with an SSD Drive to Decrease Boot Time

By far, the best way to increase your boot time, is to replace your computer’s mechanical hard drive with an SSD drive (Solid State Drive).  A solid state drive has no moving parts, which is why it is so much faster. It functions much like a USB drive does but is even faster still.

If you don’t know how to replace your  mechanical hard drive with an SSD drive, take it to your local computer store, (BestBuy, for example), and they can easily do this for you.

The difference in speed between the two different types of hard drives is substantial.  While a mechanical hard drive may take well over a minute to boot up (depending on your processor speed and how much RAM your computer has), an SSD drive will take that very same computer and could potentially get you to your desktop in 19 seconds flat.  Now, if you are used to waiting a minute or more for you to get to your desktop, this change is quite significant, but there is another huge benefit.

Not only will an SSD drive make your computer boot to your desktop in record time, but your applications will launch faster, a lot faster. It will feel like you got a brand new computer, one that is much faster than the one you originally purchased, and will potentially add years of life into that your computer because it will be fast enough to meet your needs both now and well into the future.

Add More RAM to Your Computer to Decrease Boot Time

The second thing you can do that will have a really big impact on how fast your computer boots up is to add more RAM to your computer.  

In its simplest form, RAM is a chip in your computer that temporarily stores files and data that can be accesses faster than it would be if the applications, files, and data were stored on the hard drive.  Adding RAM to your computer will not only the speed at which your computer boots up, but it also has the advantage of starting applications faster after your computer has booted up. The bottom line is that the more RAM that you have installed on your computer, the faster your files, data, and applications can been accessed.

Disable Startup Applications to Decrease Boot Time

If you do not have the funds to replace any computer hardware, there is still hope.  You can disable start-up programs that launch when your computer starts.  Start-up programs are one of my biggest pet-peeves.  Once explained, I think you might agree with me.

A start-up program is a program (application), that launches and runs in the background every time you start the computer.  The reason they these programs want to run in the background on your computer is so that when you do want to run the real program, (let’s say, Adobe Acrobat), that program will launch faster.  The problem here is that when a program runs in the background, it takes up valuable system resources.

But what if you never launch Adobe Acrobat . . . . for months . . . . even though you have rebooted your computer dozens of times?  Those system resources would have been utilized for no reason whatsoever, and instead of helping, it would in fact, make your computer slower, given that your system resources are being allocated to applications that run in the background, even if you don’t use them.

The solution?  Follow the instructions listed below to disable Start-up applications from running in the background.

  1. Click the RIGHT CLICK on the START button.
  2. Type the words, STARTUP APPS and hit the ENTER key.  This will open up the STARTUP APP settings, where you can toggle on and off the applications that you would like to run in the background.
  3. Once you finish toggling off the items you would not like to run in the background each time you start your computer, simply click the red X at the top right of the screen to close out of the Settings App.

How Often do you Really Need to Boot your Computer?

You may not have considered this, but it’s worth asking.  Just how often do you really need to turn your computer off?  Have you considered that?  Let’s take a look at what that will look like for the Desktop and for the Laptop.

The Desktop

Desktop computers really don’t need to be turned off after every use, or even every day.  If you shut your computer down (a hard boot), once a week, your computer will be just fine.  That will allow for your computer to install updates if needed and flush out your RAM. 

With that in mind, the *need* for your computer to boot faster almost becomes irrelevant.  There are things that you can do to make it boot faster, and we will get to that in a few minutes, but let’s put this into perspective.  If you only have to reboot your computer once a week, are the hardware upgrades worth it?  If just booting the computer up faster is the objective alone, probably not. However, the hardware upgrades that we will discuss in a few minutes will do far more than just make your computer boot up faster, they will make your computer perform much faster.

The Laptop

By design, laptop computers are meant to be powered on and powered off after each use, or at least at the end of your day.  For example, you probably are not going to leave your laptop powered on when traveling to work, or leave it on when you come home from work.  Why?  Because it will overheat, and heat is the arch nemesis of electronics.  Leaving your laptop on after placing it in your backpack or briefcase is just asking for problems.  In fact, if you make this a practice, you will substantially shorten its life expectancy from years, to perhaps several weeks.

What is the Difference Between Sleep Mode and Hibernation Mode?

Sleep Mode

When you put your computer to “sleep”, think of it as a nap.  In fact, on Windows 10, if you click the START menu item, and then click POWER, and then hover over the SLEEP menu item, a pop up will appear displaying, “The PC stays on, but uses low power.  Apps stay open so when the PC wakes up, you’re instantly back to where you left off.”  

If you select Sleep mode, the documents and files that are open will be stored into RAM.  Putting your computer to sleep, in effect, turns your computer off, making what was left open readily available within a few seconds of touching your keyboard or moving your mouse.  

Hibernation Mode (for Windows 8 and earlier)

Like a grizzly bear that hibernates in the winter, placing your computer in hibernation mode really puts it to sleep.  Instead of placing the open documents and files into RAM, it writes those files to the hard drive. It uses less power than Sleep Mode, and is ideal for short trips, be it from one office building to another, or perhaps when traveling to and from work. The downside is that it takes longer for the computer to wake up from it’s “sleep”, but it is still faster than a cold boot.

Again, because heat is the enemy of the components inside your laptop, if the laptop can not “breathe” while running, you are in effect, significantly shortening the life expectancy of your laptop.

Have you considered purchasing the new MacBook Air?

The new MacBook Air turns on instantly. Like an iPad, it turns on immediately. There is no boot time. No waiting. Like a calculator, it turns on and it turns off. Like a light switch that instantly turns on the light, when you lift the lid to the MacBook Air, it instantly provides the desktop. When you close the lid, the computer turns off. Zero delay. Instant access, no boot time. 

No other laptop computer in the world does this. Just let that sink in for a minute.  The closest thing to it is an iPad. The bottom line? Zero boot time on the MacBook Air. 

Closing Thoughts

There are several things you can do to reduce boot time on your computer.  Removing startup applications is the no-brainer solution you can implement right now after reading this article. It does not cost you anything and can have a significant impact on how long it takes your computer get to a desktop from a cold start.

If you want to spend a little money, you can replace your internal mechanical hard drive with an SSD drive for about $50, (again, a no brainer).  You can pick 2 sticks of 8 GB of Crucial RAM for $80 off of Amazon.  Again, both of these hardware purchases are relatively inexpensive, and will serve not only to allow your computer to boot faster, but will also cause your applications to launch faster and run optimally.

If you are looking to purchase a new computer, and boot time is important to you, look no further than the new MacBook Air.  It turns on like an iPad, and is ridiculously fast, faster than any single-core Intel Mac that Apple offers,  . . . and that’s fast.

Tim has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Tim, click here.