General Question

Joe_Freeman's avatar

How do I know when Windows XP has finished booting and doing all its startup activities, so I can begin working?

Asked by Joe_Freeman (504points) June 9th, 2009

I’m not in any big rush, but I would like to know if there is a well-defined point at which Windows has done all that it’s going to do by itself, at which time the ball is then in my court. Please remember that I am not trying to speed things up.

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12 Answers

avalmez's avatar

when the crunching of your hard disk stops and you have an active internet connection

i hate windows simply for how long it takes to start up, but a necessary evil

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

When you see your desktop items, you’re ready to go.

avalmez's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic can’t agree. i see my desktop items usually before my virus protection and firewall are up and running and therefore my internet connection up and running as well. guess it depends an what you need to begin working.

Ivan's avatar

Windows itself is ready once your desktop appears. After that, all of your software that is set up to run at startup boots. There’s no real way to tell when all of that is finished.

avalmez's avatar

listen to your hard disk…when it stops crunching, nothing is trying to startup

Zaku's avatar

XP was designed to seem to be available more quickly than Win98 and Win2K, but generally they failed (unless comparing to older and more clogged machines) and in doing so, they made it look ready before it really is. The desktop appears, but it’s still loading crap and will be largely unresponsive until it finishes various opaque startings-up. The hourglass is sort of a clue, as is the system tray in the lower-right, but neither is necessarily foolproof, since the cursor can show no hourglass until you start to do something, at which point an hourglass may appear that isn’t about what you’re trying to do (it’s about that it’s still starting junk up), and the system tray may have icons appearing and doing stuff for a while. My guesstimate is to wait for the hourglass to go away and the system tray to stop doing stuff.

jrpowell's avatar

You could always try adding Solitaire as a start-up item. When that shows and is usable you are good to go.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Look to the notification area, which a lot of people call the tray. That’s the area next to the clock, lower right-hand corner. When all of the icons are populated there, most of the startup programs have done their thing. As others have mentioned, you can start some tasks before all of the junk has finished doing its thing, but forget about the Internet. Most of those startup programs go on line to communicate with their servers, and they’ll hog your bandwidth until they’re done.

SecondGlance's avatar

@Zaku said it best. The Desktop is the first thing that shows up, not the last. Watch the arrow… it will be an hourglass for a while, then turn to an arrow… but if you give it another 10–15 seconds it’ll usually go back to an hourglass again for a while. Watch the hard drive light on your tower, it might flicker for 5 minutes after boot. One thing is probably your antivirus checking for updates, which is good. Who knows what else is happening.

Here are my pet peeves that may be updating in total silence, without you knowing: Real Player, Adobe, Google (gtalk plugin, google earth, etc.), Java, MSN Messenger, AOL software, and iTunes. Not to mention Windows Updates, Security Center, Internet Explorer, and other components.

As for your actual question: “How do I know when…” – you don’t. Basically log in and walk away for 5 minutes. I’m only partly joking, as things can easily be loading/updating that long, depending on what you’ve got installed.

Zaku's avatar

Yes that’s my experience and impression, too. As for not being able to know and where the information is stored, there are several places, which can make it nearly impossible to really determine, especially when software is installed that connects to the Internet and updates itself, etc.

There are places to have startup procedures listed that are left over from older versions of DOS and Windows. Config and autorun files, etc.

Then there is the Startup file folder where EXE’s and shortcuts can be, which the OS will try to run. That’s the easiest one to see and manipulate.

Then there is the Windows Registry, which is supposed to be the new and improved best practice for software to use for everything, but it also makes it nearly impossible to see and control, since it’s enormous and complex and there are hidden parts of it, etc.

And finally, since all of those things can result in their own processes being run, or Windows itself doing things after a delay, there can be and are typically multiple processes running which wait for events or messages or periods of time and then do more stuff, the logic for which is inside programs, so you’d need to know the programs to know what they do under what conditions. You can look at Task Manager’s list of running processes, but typically it has way too much information changing too often to reasonably figure out and interpret all that’s going on at a useful level.

I wonder if any 3rd party developers have written good tools for trying to indicate when the system is available or not and what’s got it stuck.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@Zaku , there is a tool called Process Explorer, that you can get here. Getting it to start when you want it to is a little trickier; items added to the startup group are processed last, after all the crapware gets its shot. You need to set it up in a logon script through the group policy editor. It won’t speed up your computer, but at least you can watch all of the stuff that’s running while you’re waiting to get your system back.

Zaku's avatar

That’s cool IchtheosaurusRex – thanks!

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