According to Microsoft, Windows XP was designed to boot up in 30 seconds, and if you add several additional services, this can take up to a minute. The time taken usually depends on additional functionalities you add to your system. The time of startup and shutdown also depend on the speed of your CPU and also the speed of your hard drive.
I know many people who have to deal with slow startups and shutdowns each time they use their PCs. If you face slow startups and shutdowns for your PC, then there maybe something going on aside from “old age.” There are actually some things you can do to improve it.
Spyware Infection: Slow startup and shutdown can be a symptom of spyware, trojan infection and/or a bloated configuration. Sypware infection is one of the prime causes of slow shutdown and startup. Take a look at your mouse cursor, does it halt quite frequently when scrolled or moved around? That’s one good indication of a background program (like spyware) running silently on your machine.
Disk Fragmentation: This is often overlooked, but it is actually important to regularly defragment your hard drive, because the very nature of Windows causes data to fragment, every time you use your computer. Hard drives that haven’t been defragmented for years can take more than 3 minutes to startup fully!
RAM: The amount of RAM used in your PC is important. 256 MB RAM is sufficient to run XP without trouble on non gaming PCs, but 512 MB or 1GB is best.
Your Software and Anti-Virus: The greater the number of software programs in your system, the greater the need for CPU processing. Programs like Norton were bad in this aspect. I used to have Norton Internet Security 2007, and it weighed my system down all the time. Since then, Symantec has likely improved Norton to be less of a resource hog, though I’m sticking with Zone Alarm now.
Other tips on quickening your startup and shutdown:
Ø Check out the startup menu in the All Programs and delete any unnecessary program that loads at startup. Don’t keep too many desktop icons lying around that you don’t need.
Ø Don’t clear up the “prefetch” folder in Windows because Windows just recreates them back soon after. Many tech sites suggest this, but I think it’s a waste of time. If you insist on clearing it, it’s in X:\windows\prefetch where X is the drive containing your Windows.
Ø Always turn off automatic updates. It is better to update the system manually, for whatever programs you use. However, make an exception for AV programs, because you need to keep pace with the viruses and spyware.
Ø If you have remote drivers it can be a cause of your slow startup and shutdown. The simplest solution is deleting all such mappings.
Ø Acrobat Reader 7.XX and 8.X.X tend to consume fairly large amounts of memory and increase the size of swap files. Best not to allow Adobe Reader to load at startup.
Ø Finally, if you still find your machine to be slow, then reformat the hard drive and get a new, clean installation.