Monthly Archives: September 2015

Why is My Computer So Slow When I First Start It?

I’ve had to mention this so many times over the last few years, I should have realized earlier I needed to write an article about it. So here it is.

The majority of users are probably aware of the fact that when the computer is first started and the operating system and all the initial programs and services are loading etc, the computer seems to be at its slowest as far as responding to user interaction goes. But not as many users know why or what can be done about it.

There is, of course, the fact that the computer is the busiest at that time, because it is trying to load, in rapid succession, all the programs, services, etc. that are supposed to load for the computer to start operating. So obviously if you, the user, at the same time is trying to open programs and files, you will experience relative unresponsiveness and lag, since you are competing with the computer for the same resources. But there is another factor that is not so well known.

The computer keeps a running record of programs and files that have been opened in the recent past and will try to have them ready for faster reload. This existed in rudimentary form in Windows XP but it was from Windows Vista and onward that became more sophisticated. I’ll explain and you can actually test it and see.

Let’s say you just started your computer, waited for a couple of minutes for it to become idle (so you know all the initial programs and services are now loaded). Then you proceed to open your favorite web browser, be it Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc. You can count the seconds it takes from the moment you command it to open to the moment it’s completely open. Now close it, wait a couple of seconds, and open it again. You will notice this time around it takes a fraction of the time it took the first time. But no change has been made to your computer, other than closing and re-opening the program!

Subsequent closing and opening of any program that has been opened at least once will make its opening speed similar to the second time in the example above, i.e. way faster. BUT the computer will start from a clean slate if you shutdown or restart your computer, i.e. it will go back to the first slow loading time for every program. That’s why the computer seems to be at its slowest after it first starts. It has to get ready again to reload those programs that have been opened recently and are therefore likely to be opened again.

The information above is another reason to not restart your computer too often. Personally, I don’t shut down my computers, and restart them every 2 or 3 weeks in the average.

What Is The Registry and If I’m Not Getting Married, Do I Need One? :)

Registry: In Windows computers, an organized collection of data, or database, where programs’ configurations and options are stored. Since first introduced with Windows 3.1 in the early 1990s, it has considerably grown in complexity and amount of data it stores.

The question in the title is obviously a joke, but now that we’ve disambiguated the term,  a more pertinent question is, does the normal user need to do anything about it, preventive or corrective maintenance wise? A big number of users may have heard or read about “Registry Cleaners”, which are programs with the stated purpose of keeping the registry in good operating shape.

The short answer to the above question is: it is arguable. A conservative version of the answer would be that at best, the top “Registry Cleaners” have a limited impact in the computer performance, and more often than not, they’re considered “snake oil”, in that the promoted benefits of such cleaners might be inaccurately high in modern Windows based computers.

To complicate matters, a number of fake programs claim to be registry cleaners while being actually malicious,  and utilize a combination of scare tactics and social engineering to confuse the uninitiated into allowing it to run or paying for the “premium” version to correct all the “errors” found in a scam, err, scan.

Make no mistake: The registry is a KEY element in a Windows based computer, and severe corruption of it can cause the computer to not work at all, and it’s one of the items backed up by mechanisms like System Restore, protected by some high end security suites to avoid changes that can affect the computer adversely, and, in some cases, careful and guided cleanup operations can be beneficial for the optimum running of the system. But it is doubtful that the average Registry Cleaner will have a significant positive impact in the registry and therefore the computer.