QUESTION I installed Windows 7 just eight weeks ago, but I'm already frustrated with its 50-second bootup and 82-second shutdown times. How can I improve these speeds? My two hard drives have a combined capacity of 1.5 terabytes (TB). Derek

HELPROOM ANSWER Windows 7 seems quicker to boot than its predecessors; in fact, it just gets you to the desktop quicker. The OS is still loading for some time after this, depending on the software and hardware you've installed.

When you shut down your PC, Windows has to write many things that it's holding in RAM and on the page file (virtual memory) to the hard drive. Depending on the state of your drive, this could take a while.

Adding more RAM is a good way to speed things up. If you're using the 32bit version of Windows 7 it'll accept only 3GB; the 64bit OS will run happily with 4GB or more.

Check your PC or motherboard manual for the correct type of RAM to use and instructions on how to replace or add to it.

A 1GB DDR2 800MHz module costs around £22, and a 2GB module around £32.

Since you have two drives, another option is to move the page file to the other drive. This will improve Windows performance, as your main drive will no longer need to simultaneously write to the page file and read and write to the Windows files at startup and shutdown.

Go to Start, right-click Computer and choose Properties, Advanced System Settings, Advanced, Performance, Settings, Advanced, Virtual Memory, Change. Deselect ‘Automatically manage paging file size for all drives'. Select your second drive (usually D) and click ‘System managed size', Set. Next, select your main drive (usually C) and click ‘No paging file', Set, Ok.

The same effect can be achieved on computers with a single hard drive by creating a separate partition.

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