It’s the end of a long day.
Your eyes are aching from staring at your computer screen for hours.
After attending a million meetings, your mind feels like a gelatinous mass of goo, your neck feels like its been a brace and your contacts are so desiccated they are on the verge of falling out.
Exhausted and exasperated you mindlessly click the Shutdown on your Windows 8.1 PC and trudge your way to the elevator bank.
As you wait for the elevator to appear you glance at your watch and realize it’s only 6 o’clock but it feels like midnight.
You muse to yourself:
Why am I so tired?
The next morning at 7am…
The following morning you shuffle out of bed, wash up, throw on your clothes, and catch the train immediately before the doors close.
Eventually your morning Odyssey comes to an end as you lumber to your desk.
You carefully drape your jacket over the chair back, drop your butt into the seat and fire up your computer…
And then you wait.
And you wait.
And you wait some more.
What the hell is taking so long?
Introducing Fast Startup
One of the most compelling reasons to go with Windows 8 is because of a snappy new feature called Fast Startup.
Also known as Hybrid Boot, Fast Startup was designed with one purpose: to kick your lazy computer awake with gusto.
Aul estimates that most systems enabled with Fast Startup were up and running 30-70% faster than their non-hybrid-boot peers.
How it works
The technical details are recondite and not easy to assimilate…
You can read the official whitepaper on MSDN about how boot, sleep, hibernate and shutdown transitions work but I’ll spare you the pedantic discussion with my simple explanation.
During a typical old-school shutdown:
- The OS has to close all user sessions.
- It also has to flush all services and devices in the kernel session.
Windows 8 modifies that last step by hibernating the kernel session instead of closing it.
But it’s not your normal hiberation…
To hibernate your system Microsoft dumps the contents of memory into a file called hiberfil.sys.
In Windows 8, the OS does a partial hibernation which allows it to quickly write your session to hiberfil.sys. Then whenever you press the power button you’re really telling Windows to read the contents of hiberfil.sys back into memory. This is a lot faster then going through the lengthy power on self test process that besieged previous versions of Windows.
Fast Boot is also more efficient because, in mult-core systems, it concurrently uses all cores. In other words, all your system’s processing cores work in unison to decompress the contents of hiberfil.sys.
Here’s a visual Steven Sinofsky posted comparing Fast Startup with traditional startup methods.
Ultimately using multiple-cores to read hiberfil.sys and doing a partial hibernation on shut-down results in a smaller hiberfil.sys file, faster boot up time and I would argue a happier morning experience for you.
Everyone knows that stress is a corollary of a slow computer.
Let’s curb the stress – here’s how to enable Fast Startup.
Turning it on
Before we can use Fast Startup we need to make sure your computer is configured to Hibernate.
Press Windows Key + x + a to open a command prompt with Administrator privileges.
If you don’t have admin rights beg your IT person to enable Fast Startup for you.
If that doesn’t work, you can make a cogent case to your manager about how slow startup is having a corrosive effect on your productivity. Furthmore, make a passionate plea about how your slow machine leaves you disgruntled and is having a deleterious effect on your health.
If he or she simply gives you a dispassionate stare or flashes an incredulous brow raise – threaten to quit. You don’t need to work in an environment like that.
hahaha, ok let me stop.
To enable hibernation type the following in the command prompt:
powercfg -h on
Enable Hybrid Boot
Next we need to open Regedit.
Make sure you backup the Registry first then type this into your command window:
REG ADD "HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Power" /V HiberbootEnabled /T REG_dWORD /D 1 /F
I know this looks scary so let me break it down:
REG ADD is a neat utility that lets you modify the registry from the command line.
This is tantamount to clicking Start, typing regedit and finding this key:
The REG ADD command modifies the key and changes the HiberbootEnabled DWORD to 1 in a single statement.
Concise and effective.
It also has the serendipitous effect of making you look cooler if someone walks by your desk while you’re using it.
After you make the registry change the effects should be immediate.
Now when you boot up your computer you should notice a substantive improvement in start up time. And if you have a UEFI enabled device it’ll be even faster.
Fast Startup is great but it’s not the panecea for every slow startup woe.
In some cases it may have an adverse affect on your system. For example, it can cause your computer to unceremoniously reboot when the Sign-in screen appears. Also some people say Fast Startup causes the system to freeze on shutdown or startup.
Admittedly, this is more of a concern on computers that dual-boot Windows 8; however, I bring it up here because I want you to know that Fast Startup isn’t perfect.
If you encounter any issues with this feature please let me know in the comments!