Speed Boot Time

Coming from Ubuntu, Windows 7 seems to take forever to boot. If you want to see exactly what applications are taking so long to load at startup, try Soluto (free now while in Beta). Soluto is excellent for visualizing the startup process, but I warn you not to try to modify your startup applications using Soluto. Just use it to help you decide what you need to get rid of, and then un-install it. Soluto itself takes a long time to load, and when used as a boot manager, it simply runs in the background and prevents or delays other programs from loading. It’s more efficient to modify startup applications from within Windows.

You’ll notice that the first thing in Soluto’s No-brainer (remove from boot) category is WMP, meaning Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. In the past I have used this service to stream music from Media Player to my Xbox360. However, I no longer have any need to stream music from Media Player, so this service is a waste of time. Here’s how to remove it (without using Saluto):

Disable Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service
You need to open the Windows Services dialog. You can do that from the Control Panel (Control Panel → System and Security → Administrative Tools → Services), or you can simply hold the windows key + R to open the Run Dialog, then type services.msc. Once you have the Services dialog open, keep scrolling down until you find the Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service, then right-click on it.

From the right-click menu, select Properties and from the Properties dialog, in the General tab, change the Startup Type to Disabled:

Disable WMP sharing service part 2

That’s it for the WMP sharing service (Windows Media Player will still work just fine, by the way, it just wont stream media unless you restart the service manually). One of the other applications Saluto flagged for removal is Microsoft Office Groove, which is part of Microsoft Office Enterprise and allows for collaborative document editing. Although Groove sounds neat, I have no need for it and don’t want it slowing down my boot. Here’s how to remove it (or any other component of Microsoft Office, for that matter):

Remove Microsoft Office Groove

From the Control Panel, select Uninstall a program (or Programs and Features, depending on your Control Panel view). Find Microsoft Office, select it, and click the Change button:

That’s it! Groove is gone.

Identify Other Programs That Run At Startup

If you don’t want to install Saluto just to see what’s running at startup, you can figure it out by looking in a few different places. The first one is the easiest… just look in the Notification Area:

If you see a program running in here that you didn’t start yourself, it probably is set to run automatically at Windows Startup. Sometimes, this is good. For example, you can see that I have Microsoft Security Essentials running at startup (the green house icon). I also allow Dropbox to run at boot (the blue box). However, other applications you only use occasionally will still add themselves to the startup list. For example, the camera and monitor icon is Gadwin Printscreen, which apparently decided it’s important enough to run at startup. I disagree. Most of the time, preventing a program from running at startup is as simple as using that programs Options dialog. That is the case with Gadwin Printscreen, along with most others:

That was easy, but I guarantee there are many startup applications other than those listed in the Notification Area. Ideally, you should be able to see all the programs that run at startup from the Startup folder, visible from the Start menu under All Programs. Alas, that folder is far from accurate. Eight programs that I installed myself (not Windows components) run at startup, and only one of them manifests itself in the Startup folder (good job, Dropbox). The only way to see the entire list is from within the System Configuration tool, msconfig. Note: CCleaner users may notice that CCleaner will mimic msconfig, displaying an accurate list of startup applications.

To run msconfig, open the Run Dialog (Windows key plus ‘r’) and type msconfig. Open the Startup tab:

As you can see, I allow Adobe, Java, and Google to run an updater application at startup (they’re pretty light-weight). Other than those, I only have Miscrosoft Security Essentials, Microsoft IntelliPoint (for my mouse), and Dropbox. Don’t ask me why the Windows Operating System is listed as a startup application. If you find something in here that you want to get rid of, you can simply de-select it. However, once you know what’s running at startup, I think it’s better practice to at least attempt to disable the Run At Startup option from within each individual program’s Options dialog before resorting to msconfig.

Setup Mail, Browser, Music, Photos, Videos, etc.

Now that you have installed your main Windows software and trimmed all the unnecessary stuff, it’s time to grab your external hard drive (or navigate to your FTP server or online backup website) and start copying all your files back into your Windows machine. If you’ve simply copied files and folders onto your backup medium, this will be as easy as dragging and dropping into the right folders. If you’ve used backup software (like Windows Backup), you’ll have to use the same backup software to find the files you wish to restore.