As far back as 10 years ago, I can remember technology industry pundits talking about Instant-On features in computers and operating systems. These have started to appear on a few systems, but for many users, waiting for the long time it takes a computer to boot is a miserable experience that we just accept. That’s especially true for Windows users, because of Windows’ “dependably undependable” tendency to litter files around a system with reckless abandon.
I work on a Windows system much of the time, partly because I usually write about Windows applications. So it was with interest that I read this item from PC World about a free utility called Startup Delayer. I decided to test it out.
Startup Delayer is designed to do what its name implies: It lets you set delays for the various applications you load when you boot your computer, so that they don’t attempt to load all at once, slowing you down. If you load a lot of software all the time, as I do, and if you load a fair number of applications upon bootup, Startup Delayer will deliver its maximum benefit.
The program gives you a list of the applications and other things that you load upon bootup, and then you can drag any item on the list down to an empty white space. Once you let go of your mouse there, a line appears in the white space with the line set by default at 20 seconds. That means Startup Delayer intends to wait 20 seconds before it attempts to boot the item represented by the line.
If you drag the line to the right, you can tell Startup Delayer to delay bootup of that application for several minutes if you want. Drag to the left, and you instruct it to load the application before 20 seconds goes by.
When I boot the computer that I am usually on, I have to authenticate to a network, so there is no way to avoid this delay. But I also load a fair number of applications upon startup, including an instant messaging application that always takes forever to start.
So I put Startup Delayer to the test. First, I shut down my Windows XP system and did a cold boot. It took three minutes and 10 seconds for my desktop to be fully available with my startup applications loaded (including network authentication).
Then I started working with the settings in Startup Delayer. I dragged my lines around so that the IM app wouldn’t start for 5 minutes, then I dragged several other lines around for shorter and longer delays. Finally, I clicked on the “Activate” button on Startup Delayer’s toolbar (the blue triangle seen above). Then I shut my system down and did another cold boot.
This time, my Windows desktop was fully available in two minutes and five seconds (including network authentication). Startup Delayer popped up a little notification after five minutes, in a mannerly way, saying that it was loading my IM application, but I had already been into my e-mail application and a couple of other applications by that point.
I agree with PC World’s reviewer that this is a must-have utility if you happen to load a lot of software all the time, and you are working in Windows. Try your own test.