Here’s a little-known way to speed up Windows boot time

By | October 8, 2011
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Every Windows user, whether they’re using XP, Vista or Windows 7, wants to speed up boot time. So, over the years, we’ve offered many tips and tricks and featured many programs that can help you reduce the amount of time it takes Windows to boot. Probably none of them is more important than reducing the number of programs that start with Windows. And we’ve told you many times to cut down on the number of programs you allow to start with Windows – so we’ll assume you’ve already done that 🙂

But there is another tip we’ve never featured. It’s not a very well-known tip, but it can help you reduce the amount of time it takes for your version of Windows to start up.

Windows keeps a list of all the recent items you’ve opened. And since we all open a lot of things, over time the list can become very large. Every time you boot, Windows checks that list during boot. So if that list is huge, it takes Windows longer to check it and Windows takes longer to start up. (You should also know, if you leave that list intact, anyone who uses your computer can see what you’ve opened. Right? Right! We’re just sayin’…)

Here are simple instructions for clearing the list of recently opened items. It’s different for each version of Windows..

Windows XP

Windows XP has a section of the Start menu you can see called “My Recent Documents”. This section displays the last 15 documents that you’ve opened. But the real number of recently opened documents that XP keeps can be much larger than the 15 items you can see. Here’s how to clear that list and hopefully improve your Windows boot time:

1. Click the Start button
2. Click Run
3. Type “recent” into the box (no quotes please) and then click OK.
4. When the folder has opened, you can delete all or some of the items in that list.

Windows Vista and Windows 7

In Vista, the start menu no longer displays recent documents. In Windows 7, recently used items show in Jumplists.

Here’s how to view and clean that list in Vista:

1. Click the Start button
2. Enter shell:recent into the Start Search box (notice there are no spaces between shell:recent )
3. In the list that appears, click on shell:recent
4. When the folder opens, delete any (or all) items you wish.

15 thoughts on “Here’s a little-known way to speed up Windows boot time

  1. bob

    There are two folders that I am not familiar with (so I didn’t disturb them). Any idea what they are for?
    AutomaticDestinations and CustomDestinations.

    1. DEB

      From what I understand, these are only shortcuts to recent places you have visited on your computer. You are not deleting the folder, only the shortcut. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

      1. infoave Post author

        So are you thinking shortcuts don’t take any kilobytes? It really doesn’t matter, what matters is that Windows has to load all these shortcuts at start up – if you have hundreds of them, it takes longer to start up. I don’t think we ever said the actual documents were loaded. I think we called them recently views items – shortcuts take time to load when Windows has to load them and verify each one.

  2. BarbK

    Many thanks for the the tip on speeding up Windows boot time and all other useful tips. I had 265 items to delete !!!

  3. Les Hawkins

    The links in these articles take me to strange places 🙂

    1. infoave Post author

      Please be sure you’re clicking on the link in the article and not on the advertisements. If you have a specific link you want me to check tell me where it is and I’ll be happy to check it.

    1. infoave Post author

      If you’re looking at the right list it is good. You must be using some sort of junk/garbage cleaner which would clean this list.

  4. Barbara Andersen

    When I follow the instructions, all I get is a search box.

    1. infoave Post author

      You have to follow the instructions exactly. As you can see from some of the comments here – it does work.

  5. Linda

    I’m a-scared! I am really NOT deleting the actual item and just the recent “visit” to it? Please confirm, Thanks a lot.

  6. William Banks

    True they are only shortcuts, but KB,s do count. My list had 133 programs & took up 95.8 kb,s or some (900,000 +)
    bytes on the disk.


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