It was time.
When I was away last week, I had to restart my computer a few times as I moved from place to place. You know it’s time to do some housecleaning when it takes 8 minutes for your system to go through a full restart. I don’t even mean from when you first select “Restart” from the menu. I mean after the generic black screens load and you first click on your login icon on the blue screen…up to the point that your machine is actually usable. Windows XP users know that you may see your desktop quickly, but the machine is useless until a certain point that enough services have loaded so your applications will launch and you have your network connections.
8 minutes! Ridiculous.
First thing I did this morning was get rid of all things Norton. I’ve had Norton Internet Security on my PCs since I started using PCs in 2004, but I know it’s big and bloated and can slow things down. I know there’s better out there. My Mom also has Norton Internet Security and she’s getting a warning that her subscription is about expire. I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t put anything on her computer that I don’t know and understand how it works myself. She’s very bright and she knows her stuff…once I show her. Even though my subscription doesn’t expire for another 6 months, I decide to make the switch now.
I decided to go with ZoneAlarm’s suite. It’s very highly rated, well supported and reasonably priced. I briefly considered going with just anti-virus, and letting the Windows built-in firewall do the rest. But in the end, I like the interface of the suite products better than Windows. Better safe than sorry, I guess. It was easy enough to disable the features I wasn’t interested in.
It’s a big decision because it’s not so easy to try 3 or 4 different products and settle on what you like best. You have to completely remove all traces of other products or you may be asking for trouble later. It took a long time to get rid of the Symantec stuff. A simple uninstall doesn’t do it. You have to run Norton’s tool and to be safe, do some manual digging around the registry. I’m not sure if I got it all, but I’m hopeful.
Next I took a pass through my startup items and installed applications. For this I highly recommend TuneUp Utilities. I’ve been using the application for about a year and it does a much better job than the Windows tools in telling you exactly where that file or application came from. Do I really need to have that installed? Would I miss it if it were gone? If I still want the application, does it really need to start with Windows?
A couple of hours later and it feels like i have a new machine. Everything feels faster, and I like ZoneAlarm’s task bar icon that shows when activity is actually happening.
And that startup? Now down to under 3 minutes.