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My computer, a pretty powerful MSI laptop running Windows 7, takes some time to boot. And I'be okay with that, if I could go away and make some coffee or something else while it's booting, but the problem is: I actually have to stick around to enter the password about half into the boot time, or else when I return and enter the password, I'll still have to wait another few minutes for the desktop and startup programs to load. However, I do want to have my laptop password-protected.

Is there a way for me to either be prompted for the password very soon after pressing to boot button, or have the desktop and startup programs load even if I haven't entered the password yet? I'm simply looking to have as much of my boot time as possible in one chunk that I don't have to be present for.

Also, I know I said I run Windows, but answers for Linux would be appreciated as well since this is a problem I have there too.

Clarification: I am not looking for tips on how to shorten my boot time.

Follow-up: Ok, so everyone agrees it's not possible in windows. But how about in Linux? (Assume Linux Mint as an example)

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    Short answer: No. Short Solution: Upgrade your notebook (an SSD would probably help this immensely). Free solution: Reduce the amount of crud that loads at your start-up. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Nov 12 '14 at 15:32
  • Well, kind of expected that. Still, I'll wait some more time, see if someone comes up with something. At least for linux! – Ludwik Nov 12 '14 at 15:39
  • You might want to consider running a couple cleaning tools on your laptop. Like CCleaner and perhaps a registry cleaner just because. Also if your profile is taking forever to load you could always start over with a new one, but save your files you need of course on an external first. – Dupree3 Nov 12 '14 at 16:04
  • There is a program called Soluto that could be helpful. It was originally just a startup analyzer but they turned it into a whole fix-it suite, then used the name for an entirely unrelated program now on the publisher's web site. If you explore sources on the web, you can find the original version to download. This is a CNet link but beware crapware added for your convenience: download.cnet.com/Soluto/3000-18512_4-75446583.html. – fixer1234 Nov 12 '14 at 16:14
  • There are many good ways to shorten my startup time, and many good tips have been given. However, the thing I'm looking for is the possibility to be nonpresent during boot, and not a way to shorten my boot time. I'm looking for this solution out of curiosity and because it would be useful, and not because my actual boot time is abnoramally long. Therefore, this question is more theoretical than practical in nature, and boot speedup tips (while generally useful) do not help answer the question at all. – Ludwik Nov 12 '14 at 16:22
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This isn't possible in Windows. When you start your computer but before you're prompted for your password, Windows is loading background services and other "machine-level" programs. Then, when you log in to your user account (as opposed to another user account that might exist on the computer) Windows begins loading the "user-level" programs uniquely defined in your account. These are typically different in several ways from the software loaded before the Windows logon screen appears. Usually they are:

  1. Interactive, displaying either a full UI or an icon in the System Tray
  2. Run in your user account's security context and only able to access what you can access, whereas software loaded before you logon is more likely to have System level privileges
  3. Optional and not required for Windows to run or provide essential services.
  4. User-specific. You may want Skype to load when you logon, but another user may not.
  5. Session-specific. On computers where multiple users may be logged in at the same time (think Fast User Switching or a RDSH server) these programs will run once for each user session in order to provide functionality differently to each user. The UI for anti-virus software is a common example.

For these reasons, it's simply not possible to have Windows load the user side of your programs until you tell Windows which user you are and provide your unique credentials to create the user session in which these programs must run.

A great tool for managing which programs load when Windows starts is AutoRuns. Of particular interest will be the Logon tab which controls programs that run after a user logs in and the Services and Drivers tabs which deal with that which (usually) loads before the logon screen is displayed. Be cautious on the last two tabs as you can here disable things required by Windows to function (see point #3 above). You may wish to hide most of these essential services by going to Options menu > Filter Options... then enabling the Hide Microsoft entries checkbox.

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  • I see your point. What about Linux, is there any hope there? – Ludwik Nov 12 '14 at 17:38
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    @Ludwik Wish I could help you there, but that's a completely different environment in which I have no experience. – I say Reinstate Monica Nov 12 '14 at 17:44
  • @Ludwik I added info to my answer about a tool for managing which programs run at system startup. Hope it helps. – I say Reinstate Monica Nov 12 '14 at 18:10
  • Now that AutoRuns thing was actually really good. I'll give the question a day or two to see if anyone's got something revolutionary for linux, but if not, I'll checkmark your answer. – Ludwik Nov 12 '14 at 18:29
  • Sounds good to me. – I say Reinstate Monica Dec 7 '14 at 2:45

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