In August 2004 I wrote about a problem that persists in Windows to this day. Programs in the Startup Folder or...
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the Run key in the Windows Registry (which also controls what launches at startup) all
In other words, they all launch more or less at the same time. So if you have a lot of programs in the startup group(s), the system thrashes about like mad while each program fights with the others to finish loading.
At one point I tried to write a VBScript that would solve this problem. You'd provide a plaintext file with a list of pathnames to executables or scripts you wanted to run in the startup folder. The script would launch one program, then wait until the total I/O load on the system drive dropped below 5% before moving on to the next one.
I never did finish the script—other things came up, and I couldn't get it working reliably enough to be dependable—but one of the programs I mentioned in the original tip has gone through several revisions and is worth using to get this job done.
StartRight doesn't have a separate installer; it installs and uninstalls itself. Move the program to wherever it will "live" in your system, run it and click the Install. button to import the contents of the Startup Folder and the Run key in the Registry. The next time you log on, StartRight manages the startup of each of these programs.
Note: To completely remove the program, click Restore and select "Remove all preferences from the Registry." Then log off and log back on again.
Normally, the program doesn't require much in the way of fine-tuning—the program automatically attempts to detect how much CPU is used, and will allow the next program to start when CPU drops below 10%. However, if you have a program that needs a little more time, you can manually adjust the delay time granted to it. The launch order of the programs themselves can also be set as needed, and you can even change the CPU priority for a given program when it's launched.
Note: One very big drawback to the program right now is that it's not Vista-compatible, since it needs to have admin rights throughout its launch cycle. Even if you're running as admin, programs launched in that context don't have admin rights without explicit user consent, so right now the program doesn't work on Vista at all.
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.
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