31 August 2015

Reduce Windows 10 Startup Time

Have you found since installing Windows 10 that it isn't starting as quick as you'd like? Let's assume you've not bought an entry-level model and have reasonable hardware on a recent machine - it shouldn't take long to start.

Bought an entry level machine? Upgrade, start with a Solid State Drive. I'll blog about it another day, no computer in should be without oneNote : this guide also applies to Windows 8.

One way to have Windows start faster is to reduce the number of applications you have launching as part of the Windows startup procedure. When you install things like Adobe Reader, iTunes and Skype to name a few they'll launch with Windows and slow things down a bit - you can stop this easily.

Please note that by disabling these applications from starting with Windows you are NOT removing the application altogether - they'll still function as intended.

Start at the Windows taskbar, find an empty space and right-click then select the Task Manager option.7f538-1_menu

Once in the Task Manager select the Start-up tab and all applications configured to start as part of the Windows loading procedure will display.

Identify any applications you use, but don't require to start with Windows (I'd disable as much as you can). In the example below I'd like to disable the BlueStacks Agent - I can see that it's enabled to starting with Windows from the Status field, to stop this from happening simply right-click the item and select Disable.

In the example above I disabled everything with exception of Chrome (The application used most on my laptop), OneDrive (To ensure any files I save in the OneDrive folder are uploaded) and Garmin Express (Detects my Garmin GPS tracker and uploads my activities). Items such as OneNote, Skype, iTunes and Spotify are things I use frequently - but I don't need them launching with Windows.
Applications I recommend you don't disable - System Protection and Applications to support hardware such as Printers. Take a judgement call, if disabling an item causes problems with that application you can simply re-enable and reboot to have it launch automatically again.

27 August 2015

Solve Windows 10 Update Issues

I installed Windows 10 on the day of release, whilst I've had no major issues with it I can't say it's been bug free. Certain that most things would be resolved quickly via a Windows Update (Which they were!) I wanted to ensure I was kept up to date, when I saw this screen.


After some time had passed I noticed that my updates were doing nothing - sitting at 0% with no network or disk activity confirmed that one of the bugs was indeed with the Windows Update service.  After a quick search online I found that I wasn't alone with this issue and started looking at a fix.  I'm pleased to say that the fix for this issue is quick and easy - grab a notepad and take some notes or print this page and follow the steps to resolve the problem if you have them too.


First thing to do is to launch the command prompt as an administrator, to do this click on the start button, type cmd and at the top of the list you'll be presented with an option reading "Command Prompt" with a sub title reading Desktop app.

Don't select this just yet, right click on it and select the Run as administrator option from the sub menu.

If you've never used the command prompt before this may look a little scary, but it isn't really - I learned to use computers this way so often take pleasure in using it.

Anyways, moving on! Within this window key in net stop wuauserv and press the enter key on your keyboard which will stop the Windows Update service, once confirmed key in net stop bits and press enter which will stop the Background Intelligent Transfer Service. You can close the command prompt window now, or type exit and press enter if you want to feel old school.

Note : if the Windows Update service didn't stop for you (It's uncommon, but happened for me) please read the step at the bottom of the page before continuing.


The next thing we'll do is remove any files downloaded or being processed by the Windows Update service so we can start a fresh download of clean/problem free files. To do this click the start button and select File Explorer followed by This PC followed by the drive Windows is installed on (Probably Local Disk C:). With the files and folders in view, open Windows and then SoftwareDistribution - once in this folder delete all of it's contents, the whole lot. (Screenshot above is a view of what it may look like before).

Once the folder is empty launch the command prompt again as instructed above this time using the commands net start wuauserv to start the Windows Update service, followed by net start bits to start the Background Intelligent Transfer Service.

Following this, you should be able to open the Windows Update screen and see the following screens as updates install.

Updates Downloading

Updates Installing

Updates installed, you may need to restart or press Check for updates to ensure there are no more.

Windows update service didn't stop? Not a problem. If the service failed to stop or caused an error message enter the command below into the command prompt...

taskkill /F /FI "SERVICES eq wuauserv"

This will kill the service, and allow you to proceed.

25 August 2015

Force upgrade to Windows 10

Are you in a position where the prompt to upgrade your Windows 7 or Windows 8 operating system to Windows 10 hasn't shown? Perhaps you have reserved a copy but nothing has happened? Or have you bought a new system on Windows 8 but want to update to Windows 10 immediately? If you fall into any of these categories, this post is for you.

For the upgrade prompt to show a number of existing Windows Updates have to be installed - this allows for the automatic download and preperation of the upgrade in the background without disturbing you.

If you are in a position you don't want to update the old system and want to install Windows 10 straight away - great news, it's easy to do!


Click the link below and download either the 32-Bit or 64-Bit version of the Operating System based on whatever you use now. When provided with an option, select Upgrade this PC now.


This will then download the necessary files and perform the upgrade. Note that I always recommend doing a clean install of Windows for the best experience and performance, full details of that are on my blog post here.

8 August 2015

Clean installing Windows 10

On this day last week, Microsoft released it's latest Operating System offering - Windows 10, unless you've been living in a cave for the last few months I'm sure that you've heard of it.


Windows 10 supersedes Windows 8.1 and for those using Windows 7 or Windows 8 as their current Operating System, Windows 10 can be had as a free upgrade. Which is great news for a number of different reasons - personally I was happy using Windows 8.1 with a few changes in place but always like to be using the most recent version of software.
The reason for this post however wasn't to sell Windows 10 to you, it was to provide advice about doing a clean install. One of my major frustrations with Windows 8.1 was that you couldn't clean install it to a machine shipped with Windows 8 - the BIOS embedded keys were different causing an activation headache.

As a rule I find you always get better performance from an Operating System by clean installing it to a formatted disk rather than upgrading it from a previous system - this applies not only to Windows but to OS X and Linux distros also. When doing work for many of my clients this involves more work on my part, but gives them a much better experience afterwards.

So when Windows 10 was released I thought "Could I simply format a Windows 7/8 system with a Windows 10 USB and clean install?" the answer is No, Microsoft doesn't make things that simple - but that doesn't mean you can't have the option of using Windows 10 clean - you simply need to process the upgrade first.

So if you are running Windows 7 or 8 now and would like Windows 10, do the upgrade (Use this link) and select the option to Upgrade this computer. Once that process has taken place your BIOS embedded key (Or product key, if not using an OEM install) will be accepted by Windows 10 for activation.

With an upgraded install of Windows 10 on your system, simply pop in a USB flash drive and using the same link above prepare a USB to install on another computer and once completed boot your system from the USB, format the drive and proceed with the clean install.

When prompted for a product key, simply skip - once you have completed the install Windows 10 will activate successfully. (This step doesn't work if you don't do the Windows 7/8 > Windows 10 upgrade via the Windows 7/8 installation!)