Windows 8 may have plenty of issues, but a slow boot time ain’t one. Windows 8 boots fast! Yet, there is room for improvement. We show you how to measure and optimize your Windows boot time.
The time it takes the system to start up is largely defined by internal processes. In Windows 8, a Faster Startup feature allows for record boot times. Over time, third-party applications can contribute to a significant decline. The occasional cleanup can restore initial boot times. Let’s see what your options are.
Find Your Boot Time
You can get a semi-accurate estimation of how long it takes to boot your computer by counting the seconds or using a stopwatch. I actually used the online stopwatch from timanddate.com to figure out which steps of the boot process took the longest and improved the most. If you just care for the overall boot time, however, you can draw exact numbers for your past couple of boots from the Windows Event Viewer.
Click [Windows] + [W] to jump directly to Search, type event, and select View event logs. In the Event Viewer, navigate to > Applications and Services Logs > Microsoft > Windows > Diagnostics Performance. You can now view the log file that contains all events in that category. The Event ID you are looking for is 100.
As shown above, my computer had a critical boot duration of almost three minutes, due mostly to boot processes that occurred post the actual booting up. I should note that this is not normal; I run Windows 8 on old hardware. Open the Details tab to find out what slows down the boot time of your computer.
To quickly go through different boot times over a longer period, you can filter events by Event ID. Click Create Custom View via the respective menu option on the left side. Check the Events levels you wish to see, select Event logs, and enter the desired Event IDs.
On many Windows 8 machines, there is a quick way to check your most recent boot time via the Task Manager. Open the Task Manager via Search, click on More details in the bottom left, switch to the Start-up tab and check the upper right corner for Last Bios time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t show up for me.
Make Sure Fast Startup Is Enabled
Windows 8 comes with a built-in Fast Startup feature, which uses a hybrid shutdown to accelerate the following boot process. At shutdown, Windows partially hibernates, meaning it stores the kernel session and device drivers in the hiberfil.sys file on the system drive. On startup, the information in the file is loaded to resume the system.
To make sure Fast Startup is turned on (it should be by default), open Power Options via the Search, click Choose what the power buttons do on the left side, open Change settings that are currently unavailable on top, and then check the option Turn on fast start-up (recommended) under Shutdown settings at the bottom. If you made any changes, click the respective button to save and restart your computer.
EightForums warns that Fast Startup can cause a variety of restart and shutdown issues. If you experience any such issues, try to turn Fast Startup off.
By turning on Fast Startup, I could cut my boot time by over a minute. The post login boot processes remained time intensive, but the MainPathBootTime came down to around 30 seconds from over 100. My overall self-measured boot time was around that same number; ca. 32 seconds in the example shown below. Of course that’s still extremely slow, but the improvement is still massive. On a high-end machine with UEFI, Fast Startup should yield a boot time in the single digit region.
Time Saved: 70 seconds
Now that you appreciate how much faster Windows 8 boots due its default Fast Startup feature, let’s see whether we can get even speedier boot times.
Disable Startup Programs
Windows 8 has a much improved Task Manager, which provides quick access to key system information, including programs loading on startup. On the Windows 8 desktop, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. Click More details in the bottom left and open the Start-up tab.
Disabling any processes that have a high or medium Start-up impact will improve your boot time. Select a process and click Disable in the lower right or right-click and select Disable.
I’m running an almost virgin Windows 8.1 installation, so there wasn’t much potential to save time here. I tried it nevertheless and disabled Dropbox.
Time Saved: 3 seconds; less than 1 second for MainPathBootTime.
Keep in mind that every boot is different. You’ll always have an error margin of up to a few seconds, meaning three seconds is probably not significant. Naturally, you will see more impressive results if you can disable more startup programs.
Let’s dig a little deeper and see what else we can do with a virgin Windows 8.1 installation.
Disable Startup Services
Windows automatically launches several services on startup, some of which you may not need.
Press the keyboard shortcut [Windows] + [R] to launch the Run dialog. Type msconfig and click OK.
In the System Configuration window switch to the Services tab. Here you can disable any services you don’t need. Be careful with Microsoft services and services related to your hardware; it’s better to leave them alone.
For this test, I turned off the services Computer Browser and Windows Media Player Network Sharing. I restarted a couple of times and the slowest boot still resulted in the following…
Time saved: 53 seconds; over 4 seconds for MainPathBootTime.
Now that is significant!
The lowest boot time I achieved over the course of this test was 51 seconds total, and 22 seconds spent on MainPathBootTime.
Yes, Windows 8 Can Boot Even Faster!
If even an almost virgin installation of Windows 8 or 8.1 has so much potential, imagine what you can do on your system if you have been running and using Windows 8 for a while!
Which services and startup programs did you kill and how much time could you shave off your Windows 8 boot time?
Image credits: Windows 8 Launch by Dell Inc.