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I have an elderly Dell Studio 1558 running Windows 7 and the boot time is 2 mins 28 s and the time to complete the login and start-up applications was 4 mins 30s.

It is well-known that start-up time increase as a system gets older. This is due to the accumulation of bad registry keys, poor drivers, additional services and software that runs at start-up that happens over time. There is a good article on how to address these problems here. One option is to do a clean reinstall but I have a highly configured system and that is not practical.

The price of SSDs has fallen dramatically in the last year and it is now practical to replace my hard drive with a higher performance SSD. I chose one from Crucial that came with a data transfer kit. The installation process was relatively painless,

  1. Set your laptop power mode to “don’t turn off” (I forgot this the first time and had to restart – doh!)
  2. Connect the new SSD to USB port with supplied cable.
  3. Run the supplied cloning software (about 2.5 hours for 130 GB data onto a 256 GB, 500 Mb/s drive)
  4. Replace the old drive with new drive (remove the power supply and battery first)
  5. Restart the laptop and login, repeat twice (this is necessary to allow Windows 7 to populate its cache)
  6. Run all installed programs one by one to populate caches and verify that licences are not now invalid
  7. Job done!

And the result

  • Boot time down from 2 m 28s to 31s
  • Ready to work down from 4 m 30s to 60s

Applications all load really, really fast and file browsing is nippy. It is like having a new laptop.

Postscript: Remember to turn off scheduled defragmentation because this will shorten the life of your SSD [pdf].

Postscript (04 Feb 2013): Now you have a very fast hard disk you should verify that your windows paging file is set to the recommended value which is approximately 1.5x the amount of installed RAM (by default it is set to ~ 1.0x).