Windows XP / Getting Started

Modifying the Operating System Boot

Other hacking methods are still available that will shave a few more seconds off the boot time. For example, you can cut timeout values and slim down the system to get rid of all of the extra features and services that you do not use or need. Check out the following ways to do so.

Lowering OS timeout values

If you have more than one operating system installed on your computer, you will have to deal with the OS Selector that the Microsoft installer configures during installation of another operating system. By default, the OS Selector gives you 30 seconds to select an operating system before it reverts to the default operating system. The only way not to wait 30 seconds is to select the operating system you want to use right away. If you use one operating system most of the time, you would definitely save time if you set that operating system as the default and lowered the timeout value to 1 or 2 seconds. That way, you would not have to select an operating system every time you turned on your system or wait 30 seconds before doing so.
With Windows XP, both Professional and Home, changing the timeout value is simple if the operating system that you use primarily is already the default. If it is, just follow these directions:

  1. From the Start Menu, select Run and type MSCONFIG and press OK. This will load the System Configuration utility.
  2. Once the System Configuration utility has loaded, click the tab labeled BOOT.INI.
  3. Locate the Timeout text box and replace 30 seconds with 1 or 2 seconds or any number that gives you enough time to select the other operating systems on your system. The amount of time that you select to be your timeout value is not the amount of time you have to select the operating system. Rather, it is the amount of time you have to click any key and then select the operating system. So don't be afraid of setting this timeout value too low.
  4. Once you have made the change, click the OK button, and you are finished.

If, after testing out your change, you feel that you gave yourself too much or too little time to select the other operating system, repeat the directions above to fine-tune your timeout time. If you don't have your primary operating system as your default timeout operating system and you want to do so, load Notepad from the Accessories menu in the All Programs section of the Start Menu. Once Notepad is loaded, do the following to set the default:

  1. Select File from the menu bar and select Open, and navigate to your root system drive. Type Boot.ini in the File Name text box and click the Open button.
  2. Under the [operating systems] heading, you will see your operating systems listed. You will notice some disk and partition information that has an equal sign after it that then has the title of the operating system in quotes. Copy all of the disk and partition information to the left of the equal sign (such as "multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS") to the clipboard by highlighting the text with the mouse and then pressing Ctrl + C.
  3. Then locate where it states default in the boot configuration file. Paste the new disk and partition information over the old information to the right of the equal sign by highlighting the old information and then pressing Ctrl + V and then save the file and close Notepad. That's it!

You can also change the default timeout value editing the boot.ini file in Notepad. But using the System Configuration Tool is much easier for doing so. The System Configuration Tool has a lot of other useful features.

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