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Speeding up the booting process

I've just finished Joe Kissell's, "Take Control of Speeding Up Your Mac" which gave me a lot of great information and understanding of the processes involved.

What was missing from the book was good information on speeding up the Start Up or boot process. The chapter, "Speed Up Booting, Sleeping, and Waking" gave some good info, but I want more.

I suspect that when new software is installed on a Mac, it's info and some processes are contained in a Registry or some such deep file that takes up time when starting a Mac. I also suspect that I could speed up the boot process by removing many of those files for Apps that I have deleted or that I rarely use.

Please give me some info and understanding about this.

Chris Harnish
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  • Joe can say more about the aspect of speed improvements based on deleting files, but I'd like to note that the easiest and most significant improvement you'll see in booting is by switching to an SSD. I think my Mac Pro went from a full boot taking more than 4 minutes to under 30 seconds (I start a lot of apps at launch).

    cheers... -Adam
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  • I've been contemplating an SSD upgrade, and I droll at the speed increases that I've been hearing about, such as you describe.

    But here I'm thinking about my clients. I'm a private Mac consultant and see lots of clients Macs with painfully slow boot times that will respond to many of the things that Joe mentions in his book, but I want more...

    BTW, thanks for answering so quickly.

    Chris
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  • There's no registry, or anything like it, in Mac OS X as there is in Windows. It is true that after installing certain kinds of software, your next reboot (only) is a bit longer, for a variety of reasons, but that isn't a hard and fast rule—and even when it happens, it's generally the case only once, not every subsequent time. (Merely installing new software does not, in general, slow down all future boots.)

    It's also true that startup and login items can slow down booting a bit, and I do spend a good bit of time talking about those in the book—so uninstalling those could indeed make startup go faster. And, as Adam says, an SSD will really do more for startup time than anything else. But that's about it. If I knew of any other procedures that would reliably speed up booting, I would have mentioned them in the book!
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  • Thanks, Joe.

    It seems like I've done most of the things you discuss in your book, but as a Mac ages, its boot time increases from around 45 seconds to a couple of minutes, even when the Desktop is clear and login items are minimal.

    I'll reread, "Cut Back on Startup and Background Items"
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  • What you describe isn't unusual—but it's one of those things that has lots of different partial causes, and whether it occurs or how severe it is depends on how you use and maintain your Mac. There's no reason a 5-year-old Mac can't start up exactly as fast as it did on the day it was purchased, but the various stuff that loads at startup and login has to be pruned way back—and other factors, such as disk errors, corrupted caches, and severe fragmentation—has to be dealt with. My point was really just that there's nothing about installing an application as such that necessarily influences startup time. Of course, if the application has helper programs that load at startup or whatever, that's another story.
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  • I've seen good speedup by rebuilding the directory using Disk Warrior.

    It was my understanding that OS X moved files as there required more space rather than fragmenting them, so as a Mac gets older the directory gets out of date, which causes slow-down rather than fragmentation.

    You indicate that there is still fragmentation. Is this true?
    If it is, can I remove the fragmentation by making a SuperDuper clone to my backup drive, reformat the internal drive and then SuperDuper back to it?
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  • If you have directory damage, then sure, fixing that could potentially help startup time.

    The section "Defragmenting Your Hard Disk" starting on p. 32 tells you the story about fragmentation on Mac OS X. But keep in mind that files are only ever fragmented during the process of being written (which includes saving files, adding new files, and updating applications). An application, or any other file already on your disk, will never become fragmented if it's only being read (or if it's not touched at all).

    See the end of the Defragment Your Disk topic on p. 107, where I talk about doing exactly what you describe.
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