How-To Geek

Here’s Why Windows 8 Will Boot Much Faster than Windows 7

If there’s one thing that drives geeks crazy, it’s a slow-booting system. That’s why for Windows 8, Microsoft went back to the drawing board to redesign the boot process for speed.

What they came up with was a hybrid of cold booting and hibernate mode – essentially the internal Windows processes use hibernate all the time, but the drivers start up like they would on a cold boot. The difference looks something like this:

Windows 8 is definitely going to be awesome. Click the link for more details.

Delivering Fast Boot Times in Windows 8 [MSDN]

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/9/11

Comments (56)

  1. Dan

    Does fast boot work if I remove my laptop’s battery and unplug it? I do that to extend my battery’s life span.

  2. Andrew Morgan

    Is slow booting really an issue with Windows 7? I mean it was with Vista but with my 7 machines they boot better then XP does. So is booting really an issue? Also I want to throw in there that from what I’ve gathered about Win 8 is that it’s mostly going to be geared at cloud computing, so I imagine it would boot pretty fast considering it doesn’t have all of those pesky programs that those “geeks” you mentioned like to have on their machines.

  3. Tim

    I use hybrid sleep or hibernate all the time, problem solved anyway.

    Dan – if the fast boot is using a mini hiberfile for the system stuff, then I assume it would work with power removed (unlike hybrid sleep which writes files to disc and suspends everything in low power). Delay in reading the hiberfile from disc but quicker than reading a full memory hiberfile I assume as normal hibernate does. Combine that with flash storage and quicker still.

    Think we should go back to the days of having the OS on ROM. Turning on my old ZX81 or BBC Micro was barely 5 seconds from switching on to getting a prompt.

  4. addorange

    If the mini hibernation file is written every time, won’t that have a negative effect on SSD life?

  5. Klas Mellbourn

    Hmm, experience tells me that it is a good thing to *really* reboot a Windows machine every now and then. This sounds like a reboot will not strictly be a true reboot, but more like an improved hibernate.

    Will there be a new restart option to do a true, “cold” reboot that restarts the entire kernal too?

    And if so, what is really the big difference? As Andrew states above, Windows 7 has a very quick sleep/wake cycling already.

    Tim – I had a fast booting ZX Spectrum, those were the days.

  6. Aalaap Ghag

    Why didn’t I think of that before?

  7. John

    OK, a little improvement. But nothing extraordinary for Ubuntu or MacOS users.

    “Windows 8 is definitely going to be awesome.” <- this sentence may a little to optimistic… ;)

  8. Grigory V.

    Geeks don’t reboot; Windows users do → geeks don’t use Windows.

  9. tim R

    If there’s one thing that drives geeks crazy, it’s a slow-booting system. That’s why for Windows 8, Microsoft went back to the drawing board to redesign the boot process for speed.

    : % s/Windows 8/Vista/g

  10. hype8912

    Now try installing Whole Disk Encryption and Full Anti-Virus Suite plus adding it to a domain. You should see these values go up by a value of 10 or more.

    This is what the typical Enterprise user is going to see not this clean boot stuff.

  11. Marlena13

    Gosh, having my machine boot up in 10 seconds vs 12 seconds is totally meaningless to me. Same with 3 minutes vs 5. I’ve never understood this obsession some seem to have with how fast the computer boots when its turned on. Shrugs

  12. David George

    I’m with the side of those not overly concerned with fast(er) boot times: Win7 is light years from what I got used to with XP.

    My biggest concern is the whole touch-pad GUI: Did I miss something or isn’t Win8 rumored to rely on that rather than a mouse?

    That is a dealbreaker for me. Using an input device is crucial in all sorts of photo, audio, and video editing applications.

  13. Backy

    Well, I actually do not switch the computer for a week. So it really is not such a plus for Microsoft. The problem is the structure of the computer and how it interacts with the software. I think it would be the fastest to OS that boot from the chip directly, and that is sold as a component of a computer or separately.

  14. Chronno S. Trigger

    Using an SSD drive to run the OS in general will limit the life of the drive. The OS is constantly writing temp files and to a paging file.

    @David George
    From what I hear, Windows 8 has the ability to switch between an interface for touch screens and a desktop version for keyboards and mice. Might be old info, it’s hard to keep up.

  15. Ron

    Booting not so big a deal on W-7, hopefully they make MS Office play nicely, as w/o office the machine is pretty good w/office it’s a lot slower, but still a cup of coffee faster then my XP at work

  16. Meddi

    I see Mac-boys are burning in envy. They make up for 7.3 percent of total usage share of operating systems, from which 99 percent are message board trolls.

  17. Andacar

    There are a lot of things that drive this old geek crazy, but a difference in boot times of a few seconds isn’t one of them. Frankly I’ve never sat there with a stopwatch timing a computer bootup, and I rarely need it to boot fast because I need to do something right this second. That might appeal to the overclocking guys, who seem to do it all mainly to show impressive speed numbers to their friends, but I have better things to do with my computer than that. I suppose it could be a generational thing; I’ve been using computers of one sort or another since the dark ages of 1977. I do notice the odd teenage geek pounding on their laptop or iSomething demanding it boot in a second because they just have to text about something that’s all like dude and stuff. But I don’t think those folks are going to be happy no matter how fast something boots.

  18. Chris

    Umm…. of course Windows 8 isn’t going to be just the touch-pad stuff. Can you seriously believe THAT is all of Windows 8?

    For the most part, what you see in Windows 7 now is what you will see in Windows 8, besides some smaller graphical changes. Just look up some official Windows 8 videos. They re-designed the window buttons again, etc.

    The touch-pad stuff is for touch-screens, etc. I believe you can switch.

    As for the boot-up stuff, for those that turn off their computer daily, it is always nicer to have a faster boot-up process. Though, just getting an SSD can fix much of your wait times.

    My concern, though, is this “sleep technology”. I personally don’t trust it and dislike it. Why? Because all of my experience with it is dead RAM. The RAM doesn’t get cleared. It sits in there, which is what makes it faster to come back. I’d rather turn it off and wait a bit to start-up.

  19. Andacar

    Oh, and I’m with David George. It’s nice to see that Microsoft is trying to get Windows 8 ready for tablets, but no way am I going to use that horrible touchpad interface. I do long form editing, animation, graphics, audio, lots of writing, and so on. No way would I want to do that on a tablet even if were fast enough. The Windows interface could always use a tweak or two, but it actually works quite well now.

  20. wakdude

    Many years ago HP had a device that ran Windows 3.1 from a ROM. It booted up extremely fast (a Read Only Memory chip is many times faster than a hard drive or a SSD).

    The ROM based Win 3.1 device also made your battery last longer. I suspect that there was some security benefits as well (hackers can’t rewrite the Microsoft files that are in the ROM).

    I have often wondered why we didn’t see more use of ROM based Windows technology. It seems to have such useful benefits (especially in regards to fast boot times and security).

  21. Gabriel

    That`s the difference between standby an hibernate – what you`re describing is standby; you`re making the computer turnoff the monitor, network, and other power consuming components. Hibernation basically prepares-to and moves the bulk of the RAM memory to the hard disk and shuts down the system. Leaves a flag on the HD, so next time you boot up, the system will `know` it has to swap back the page from the hard disk to RAM, and then you recover the status of the apps as you left them, theoretically… the idea is good actually, tough it`s definitely not something that saves one`s life… I`m confident developers will wall around the small gaps and problems, and probably it`s more complicated that what`s described here; you have to make a cold boot from time to time to clear possible loop holes and counters, that stuff that you wouldn`t normally expect to happen but happen even on the biggest systems… tough this is only for the system components … you can always add crappy applications to make sure it`s slow :)

  22. Doug

    I started using Hibernate on my 1-XP, 1-Vista, and 4-7 household desktop/laptop computers a year or so ago. I only occasionally reboot, and it never was much of an issue anyway. Faster boot time is good news, but not a reason to switch.

  23. Judy

    Turn on your pcs and go get a cup of coffee. They will be up and running when you get back.

  24. Ivydapple

    Boot time hasn’t ever been an issue for me. I use Windows 7, and “slow boot” isn’t something I’d use to describe it.

  25. Kerry

    I in no way mean to be rude here but buying a new release of Windows everytime MS wishes to put a kick in their bottom line is not my goal in life. I intend to use Win7 on all my home machines until there is no more support for it. The whole freaking world is on fire so the next release of MS OS just doesn’t mean much to me. If my current OS is stable which Win7 seems to be then as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

  26. Kevin

    As a definite non Geek I am a bit confused by the above
    I am still running Vista on laptop, as I have for the last 3 years
    Just did a cold boot and the time was 1 min 2 secs
    This is faster than when I got it
    Interestingly a pro pro the article I have disabled Hiberfil (and System Restore)
    Other start up items are merely controlled by CCleaner
    Is it possible that Vista is a slightly different animal now???
    Do from time to time use both Window’s 7 and indeed XP on other peoples machines and they do not seem any faster. Most in fact are slower, some by an awful lot

  27. gergn

    My Vista Home Premium desktop/laptop (both from 2008) both boot faster than my W7 desktop/laptop (both from 2011). Boot is not finished when the Window desktop is shown, but when you can actually start to work. The Vista desktop is put to sleep a few times per day.

    The only real reason Vista was considered a bad OS was because people put it on old hardware without the proper drivers.

    I only have a cold boot on the Vista desktop when I am asked to do so. That happens once every few weeks.

  28. JeffS

    Boot times are an issue to me. especially when; let’s say first install Vista and it boots up in a minute or so from the time you hit the power button till the time your login screen comes up. then it’s another 30 second to a minute for windows to fully load all it’s processes. So about 2 minutes give or take which isn’t that bad.
    However once windows starts it’s regimine of updates, the system gets slower and slower and slower. I’ve found myself reinstalling windows every couple months because all of the updates now has my computer booting at 10 minutes compaired to 2, and every window has (Not Responding) on a daily basis this drives me absolutly crazy being I know Windows will load faster than that. My Ubuntu 10.10 boots in about 2 minutes and my Debian 6 boots in about 1 minute, and Win 7 about 2 minutes currently, though my 7 is only about a month old(got sick of Vista’s behaviour). So when you go from fast to slow booting it becomes a big deal and unacceptable.

  29. BeckyA

    I recently started trying to remember to turn off my desktop at night and when I’m gone to work all day, in the interest of saving energy. Now I realize how spoiled I’ve become in terms of waiting for the machine to boot! It’s running Win7, and realistically doesn’t take very long, but boy am I a whiner about it! ;) I agree, a few seconds is not much to spend or save. We’re just used to running faster and faster, like a hamster on a wheel….

  30. Skurt

    As a geek, i have no issue at all with slow boots, since i rarely, rarely DO reboot.

  31. Louis

    I haven’t been concerned with boot time since I got rid of my HP Pavilion with 126 mb of RAM.

  32. Donald

    Mainframe computers (z/OS) have been doing something like this for maybe 30+ years. Why did it take so long for Microsoft to figure it out. z/OS can load the drivers out of PLPA (a page dataset) or cold from the LPA dataset and then build the PLPA.

  33. Karolinger

    Who the heck turns off their computer?

  34. T.K

    other problems like logging every move you do also makes windows slower and the report queue that takes an ungodly amounts of data

  35. John Adams

    One of the comments indicated that there is low power usage in hibernate. It must be near zero power because I meant to select turn-off when pressing the power button on my HP desktop. I inadvertently selected hibernate. The power light turned off, so I turned off the surge protector. When I again turned on the computer, everything opened with the “restarting windows” indicator. I tried leaving a couple of programs open (Word and Excel) with data in the open file. When I again turned on my computer those programs were open with the files I created intact. I often leave the computer off for 12 to 18 hours. So far, everything opens and runs with the status of open programs as they were when I turned pressed the power button. I do not believe that there is any battery in my computer that would support significant power usage.

    I have been using the hibernate mood that is set by pressing the power button for several days. My computer opens up faster than when booting from a cold start, and most important, I do not have to enter a password to begin using it. Windows 7 requires a password when you net work a Windows 7 computer with a Vista computer. My brother tells me that is not the case when all the home network computers are Windows 7.

  36. William

    I wonder why Gates and co just doesn’t ask Apple how their computers open in a flash of the time Windows does?????

  37. v10

    @John Adams
    Hibernate uses no power, which is why unplugging the computer doesn’t affect it.It writes the contents of RAM onto the hard disk and shuts the power off completely.

    Also, your brother is correct when he says that it can be simpler to network home computers if they are all running Windows 7 (using the Homegroup feature).

  38. Adam E

    How about booting up my wallet? I know Windows 8 is going to be more expensive than Windows 7
    when it comes out making the price for the operating system and computer more expensive.

  39. Ben_P

    I wonder if they’ve considered the security implications of having a persistent file?

  40. Isaac

    I’m going to guess that most people are just impatient. However, I’ve always hated to wait longer than 2 minutes for the CPU activity to finally get to a usable state.

    One thing I highly recommend is to use an SSD drive dedicated just to the operating system. This is a major improvement on speed. If you buy one, they’re about $100 in the USA, it’ll make your computer feel new! :)

  41. IJ Gardiner

    First and foremost: Forget the boot speed times being quicker. That garbage is or wanna-bees pimping their system. So can the faster startup time. Besides, from a true install and startup, this hiberfile has to be generated initially, on your first true reboot,.. you wont see this “quicker time”

    Second: Why not do something about SYSTEM STABILITY. If it boots up faster, congrats,.. it will crash faster too. NOT GOOD. So allow and account for true backwards compatibility. ANd include all the legacy drivers from manufacturers, to make the devices stable.

    Tertiary point: Release integration code to technology producers via secure link, or stand-alone stations at cost, so effective drivers can be uilt and tested properly.
    Then “Windows” will become a true operating system.

    Odds microsoft will get rumour of this post challenging them; Fair to Poor.
    Odds of any of it reaching engineers for consideration and follow-through: “How many life times can we wait”?

  42. Stacey

    COOL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    When is it comming out again???

  43. Jim

    Add the shutdown time to the boot time if it creates a hibernation file. I hate waiting for shutdown too.

    My machine at work takes 15 minutes to connect to remote drives and servers and load permissions from a far away corporate server. It sucks. At home I can restore a full desktop from hibernate to RAM in Zenwalk linux within 5 seconds. It only draws 3 watts in hibernate to RAM.

    Even booting Mint Linux cold with no hibernate or standby from a flash drive takes less than 1 minute. Windows is so far behind it’s not funny anymore.

  44. Jas Allen

    Well what can I say? I guess the Windows 8 is better but the difference is not that much. Is there anymore add-ons or anything sensible that can really convince me to prefer W8 rather than 7 except for the hibernate and booting stuff?

  45. Bill

    I want MS to work on making the OS actually stay stable for longer that 3 months. I want it to NOT build shitloads of temp install folders. I want it to work with my older games I also want it to stop needs 3 gigs of updates. screw boot times

  46. Lelouch

    The point of this technology is to benefit laptops and tablets. Yes, there is still a lot of desktops around, but the demand for it has dramatically lowered. They’re moving in the right direction. The reason for this hybrid hiber/shutdown is so that people on the move can turn on and off their computers quickly. Why not sleep it? Because some people are idiots and accidentally remove the battery.
    Or when their battery goes dead, they find the nearest charging point. You wouldn’t want to wait for the whole boot up process would you?

  47. john3347

    A general comment on Windows 8 and not specifically limited to Windows 8 boot time! It has been proven over and over that the more that a single piece of software, or hardware, attempts to accomplish, the less well it performs ANY of those functions. I only see Windows 8 further proving this phenomenon. I have no hope that a single OS CAN be optimized – much less, coming from Microsoft, WILL be optimized – for everything from a cell phone to a corporate desktop

  48. jason

    Where have we heard that before ha ha,Apple rules end of!

  49. Tim

    “Geeks don’t reboot; Windows users do → geeks don’t use Windows.”
    Or geeks just understand how to use Windows properly and not let it get into a mess that requires reboots, reinstalls, etc. In the main it’s non geeks installing tonnes of crap malware, spyware, bloated software and stupid screensavers that cause the problem.

    I rarely reboot Windows.

    As I say, Win7 on a modern PC with good sleep support, just change the shutdown to sleep instead. Everything powered down, discs and fans off, press a key and it’s up and into the desktop within 2 seconds.

  50. Dick

    Having been a geek since 1963, almost all of the “New” features of most operating systems have been in use on mainframes since the 60’s or 70’s, e.g., “new” file systems, algorithms, etc..

    It’s hard to make up for a 30-40 year headstart that the mainframes have. The guys doing the mainframe work weren’t stupid after all.

  51. Joe Gardner

    I hope that the validation department does alot of overtime to make sure that a change like this to the architecture and design doesnt leave alot of people with alot of problems. A faster boot, although a great sales pitch to some maybe, can be done in a myriad of ways by oneself or with a little help from a ‘geek’ but if its at the cost of reliability or compatibility issues then I hope someone can push back on the muckity-mucks and convince them that although getting it to market to make money now is a goal, its critical that the thing has been tested more than just the concurrent project length testing. The mfg/design guys should live with the thing (like one of those fake babies ) strapped to them 24/7 for a year to get all the kinks and bugs out. We can do without a tech boost for that long if it means its an improvement, not just a change.

  52. Dennis Primm

    I have to agree with Dick. The mainframes have a 30-40 year head start. I have a dual boot system using Win Vista and Ubuntu Linux (and I love Linux’s boot time, as Disk said old mainframes came with good OS’es such as Unix) and Ubuntu starts much faster than Vista does, but I’m not completely dissatisfied with Vista (it’s like Tim said, if people didn’t load so much crapware and wallpapers on their computers, then they wouldn’t run into a lot of problems) as mine boots in about 2 minutes or less when I boot to Vista and I have an old (circa 2007) Athlon dual core processor and 4GB of RAM. I just wish we could all run some some flavor of Linux and be done with it. Too bad we can’t have all of the GOOD Windows software on Linux…

  53. Max Peterson

    The difference between standby (sleep) and hibernate is that with standby the computer is simply put into a very low power state and with hibernate everything in the cpu and memory are saved to a file and the computer is shut down.

    Also, my rule of thumb for new versions of Windows is to skip every other one. Using this philosophy, your choices would be Windows 3.11 (yes), Windows 95 (no), Windows 98 (yes), Windows 2000 (no), Windows XP (yes), Windows Vista (no), Windows 7 (yes), Windows 8 (no), etc.

  54. Martin Wildam

    The fast booting Windows machine they have shown is just because it has an SSD in it IMHO. Please show boot on a normal HD also.

    And second: We all know that after login screen display it still takes an eternity on Windows until you can really work with it.

  55. Harry Burris

    A heads up to the ever annoying Mac Fanboiz out there – the Mac does not have a hibernate mode – it goes to sleep just like a Windows computer in sleep mode, which requires constant power to keep it alive, thus your comparisons are moot. If you don’t believe this, close the lid on your MacBook when the battery is nearly exhausted, then go away for a few hours – when you pull the lid back up, you will most likely have to do the long press on the Power button to restart the computer. I know this because I have had a MacBook Pro for over 2 years and use it to process email every morning, and have had more than a few mandatory reboots after the battery went dead. And when it reboots, it easily takes as long as the Windows 7 pc that I use to do actual work.,

  56. Tim

    “The difference between standby (sleep) and hibernate is that with standby the computer is simply put into a very low power state and with hibernate everything in the cpu and memory are saved to a file and the computer is shut down.”
    True, but in Windows 7 there is a hybrid sleep mode which is normally enabled as default for sleep, which puts everything into a low power state but it also puts active apps and open documents onto the hard disc rather than the entire memory. The result is a very fast shut down and a restart of just a few seconds, and if the power had been cut it just recovers from the data dumped on disc.

    Hibernate is okay but with computers that have many gigs of memory (and 64bit systems use a lot more of that), there’s a lot more to dump and read from disc. Hybrid sleep by comparison is practically instant.

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