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Another Cool Boot-time trimming technique

I’ve been a big fan of the SysInternals stuff since the mid-90s, so it was with some interest that I noticed a recent update to their “ultimate Windows start-up management tool” Autoruns.exe on September 29, 2010 (it took me a while to get around to checking out the new release, so that’s why I’m writing about it today, and will probably write about it further fairly soon). Here’s a basic screen cap of what the program looks like:

Autoruns looks at every facet of Windows boot and start-up

Autoruns looks at every facet of Windows boot and start-up

I’ve been writing regularly about a Windows boot-up optimization tool lately called Soluto (9/13/2010, 9/16/2010, and again on 9/27/2010) and have thus stayed interested in topics related to speeding Windows boot-up and start-up lately. When I noticed the latest Autoruns.exe had a tab devoted to Drivers I decided to drop in and take a look at what Windows was loading on my production machine, and found a bunch of items getting loaded that I knew my current runtime environment wasn’t using and would probably never need — most notably, a whole slew of RAID, Serial-Attached SCSCI (SAS), SCSI, and Fibre Channel (!) device drivers, but also various AMD drivers for this all-Intel machine, along with some PS/2 stuff as well.

Lots of interesting and unexpected items show up in Autoruns Drivers tab

Lots of interesting and unexpected items show up in Autoruns Drivers tab

If you’re inclined to avoid loading drivers you’re not going to use, I do recommend that you first make an image backup of your system before turning things off willy-nilly. That way if you turn something off that hoses your machine, you’ll be able to get back to operation if all other fast-fix strategies fail (like returning to the LKGC or booting in Safe Mode to rerun Autoruns and turn things back on). That said, I turned off all the device drivers I knew weren’t in use on my machine and realized a pretty substantial decrease in boot time: from 1:16 to 0:41 (info courtesy of Soluto) for a savings of 0:35 (46%!!). I’m going to back and turn some other things off that I missed on the fist round and see what happens next, but this looks like another great way to boost Windows start-up times substantially. [Note added 15 minutes after original posting: turning off all Adaptec and other SCSI related storage drivers and a few other odds’n’ends dropped my start-up time to 0:38, exactly half of the original 1:16. Way to do, Autoruns!!]

Soluto, are you guys looking into testing for presence of devices for which drivers are loaded as part of your optimization analysis? If not, let me be the first to recommend adding this to your bag of tricks (which would be easy to implement simply by comparing the results of device enumeration in Windows to the drivers and driver classes actually loaded during startup, and recommending turn-off for those not actually in use). I’m even going to copy the Soluto team on this blog so they can let me know what they are doing in this regard.

Count on me to report further on the latest version of Autoruns, as I spend more time with the program and learn further tips and tricks.

[Note added 10/11/2010: After I shared this blog with the folks at Soluto, they responded by saying they, too, were keenly aware of AutoRuns and while they do have future plans to offer options to remove unused and unneeded drivers from the boot-up sequence, they’re not ready to talk about them just yet. I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned…]

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