Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Is This A Rose?


Last week’s post discussed an incident which left me with no icons on startup. There was a specific cause (Microsoft Security Essentials failure), but there was also an operating systems cause: inconsistent startups.

Not only do the four machines mentioned last week differ from one another, each differs from itself. By that I mean they are inconsistent, especially when starting up. The makers of the XP OS didn’t think startup sequence made a difference. It does, and it’s an endless source of problems. Some (like the MSE debacle) are not minor.

A number of programs comprise startup: some required by the system and some chosen by the user. Others are there because, during installation, they requested it. A few, like your antivirus software, must run on startup. Most don’t have to. Yet, nearly every program I install, no matter how minor, wants a place in startup.

Only the programs you need belong in startup. Why do other programs want to be there? It means all or part of the program sits in memory—making it run faster. Is this really necessary for every program? Of course not.

Programs not starting in the same sequence make a difference because some don’t run the same every time. One could trigger an update, but Internet response may be slow. That delay could interfere with another program in the sequence. Could, and has. I’ve seen it too many times to count.

An inconsistency could cause the system to hang, never completing the startup process—as in the case of MSE mentioned above. Reboot might solve the problem, because the next startup is likely different and won’t encounter the same problem.

There are things you can do to improve startup, but they’re not trivial. Here’s a site. Flawed methods waste our time, but the bigger problem is software makers don’t care.

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