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I have been having trouble with something causing my Windows XP system to take 6-8 minutes to startup from a cold boot. Something is happening during startup that is causing the system to crawl.

I have a lot of Linux experience , especially configuring run levels so that some programs start before others do. I also know how to do that on Windows XP but its really complex, and with 50 services I'd have to keep a giant spreadsheet to keep it all organized.

Is there such a thing as a Windows XP Tool that "emulates" the Linux run-level editors that I can use to control the order than services start on my system?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Windows services don't start in a specified order outside of their dependencies. Each service maintains a list of which other services must be started first (this list can be seen on the service's properties window). For example, a large number of services depend on Remote Procedure Call being started first.

If necessary, you can change the dependencies for services either through the sc command:

sc config <service name> depend= <slash-separated list>

or by manually editing the registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\<service name>
Name: DependOnService
Value: A list describing each service this service depends on.

If you go about changing these dependencies trying to speed up your boot process, there's a large likelihood of causing more problems, such as accidentally making two services depend on each other. Additionally, unless the services all try to do heavy disk access upon starting (which is unlikely), adding dependencies is unlikely to help your boot speed. The kernel's process scheduler is probably going to do a better job allocating CPU time to the services than you are.

If you are trying to troubleshoot if one of these services is causing the slowdown, then I recommend using a tool such as Autoruns or msconfig to selectively disable services until you find the one causing the problem. You are less likely to cause huge problems this way, and in the worst case you should still be able to boot into safe mode and re-enable all services if everything hits the fan.

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Well, this answer is beyond my knowledge but I believe. +1 for being so clearly explained. – Xavierjazz Apr 8 '10 at 22:27
is there a way to emulate the Windows7 delayed startup of services on Windows XP? – djangofan Apr 15 '10 at 21:27
You can set some services to startup type "manual", create a batch file which waits 5 minutes and starts these services by calling net use <servicename>, then call this batch file at boot using a scheduled task. – Stephen Jennings Apr 16 '10 at 11:05
awesome suggestion. thanks. – djangofan Jun 22 '10 at 17:43

Although not exactly the same as a "run level", Microsoft/SysInternals AutoRuns will show you just about everything that is starting up on boot(and more) and allow you to configure it. It is a great tool for boot-time configuration and debugging.

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