DISABLING UNNEEDED HARDWARE DEVICES


Quote of the Day:
A court is a place where what was confused before becomes more unsettled than ever.
–Henry Waldorf Francis

(Reprinted from the book Hacking Windows XP: Speed Up Your Boot of Extremetech. I am sharing it with you.)

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Disabling Unneeded Hardware Devices

Every time that you turn on your computer, it has to load and initialize all of your computer hardware. Keep in mind: Your computer has a lot of devices that you do not always use. These extra devices are loaded and initialized during every boot. When it does so, your computer’s performance is slowed down.

Windows XP is now a lot more efficient and smarter during the boot-up cycle. In previous versions of Windows, the system would load one hardware device driver and then load another device driver in a series. The only problem with loading the hardware this way was that it could slow down the boot dramatically if one hardware device was taking a long time to initialize. One well-known culprit of this is the network card which pauses to wait to get an IP from a DHCP server.

Windows XP has a new way of initializing the hardware devices when the system boots up. Instead of loading the hardware device drivers in series it now loads some of them in parallel. This allows the boot to be much faster. Although the hardware devices are loaded in parallel instead of series, the addition of more devices that the system has to load drivers for, still has the potential and most likely still will, slow down the boot.

Figure 8-4

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click on image for full view

To disable hardware devices, you will want to use the Device Manager. Figure 8-4 shows the Device Manager and all of the different categories of devices. To get to the Device Manager, do the following:

  1. Go to the Control Panel using the shortcut on the Start panel or menu if you are using the classic Windows interface.
  2. Once you are in Control Panel, locate the System icon and run it. If you can not find the System icon, most likely you are using the Control Panel Category View. If you are using the Category View, click on the Performance and Maintenance icon and then you will see the System icon under the “or pick a Control Panel icon” heading.
  3. Once the System Properties window has loaded, click on the Hardware tab. Under the Device Manager section, click the button that says Device Manager.
  4. Now that you are inside of the Device Manager, you can browse through your devices that are connected and currently running or disabled by browsing though the device type sections. To disable a device, right click on the device name, and then select disable.
  5. To re-enable a device, right-click on the device name, and select Disable. This will remove the check from the menu and will re-enable the device.

Tip:
To quickly determine the status of a device, check out the icon next to its name. All devices that are disabled have a red X over the icon. All devices that have a question mark or an explanation point on them are not set up correctly or are having problems. All devices with none of the above additions to the icon are running—and doing so without any problems. Continued…

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What Hardware Devices Should I Disable?

Each user uses (or doesn’t use) devices differently, depending on the system setup. Nonetheless, some classes of devices are more commonly disabled than others. Knowing which ones will help you make your decicision as to what devices you should disable. The following classes of devices are frequently disabled:

  • Network Adapters: Especially on notebook computers, there are often more than one network device. Disabling the network devices that you do not use will definitely save you some booting time.
  • FireWire: If you have 1394 connections, otherwise known as fire wire, you might consider disabling them. Unless you are using your fire wire port to connect your digital video recorder to your computer, or have other external fire wire device, you have no need to have this device enabled.
  • Modems: Do you have a broadband connection? If so, then consider disabling your modem. If you rarely use it, disable it. If you ever need to use it again, just re-enable it again.
  • Multimedia devices: Your computer has lots of multimedia devices. Take a look at the “Sound, video, and game controllers” section in Device Manager. You will find a lot of device drivers that are loaded during your boot. Some are used by all users, but others will find a few that they do not use. For example, I do not use my game port or my MIDI device, so I disabled both of those.
  • PCMCIA: If you are a laptop user, consider disabling your PCMCIA card controller located under “PCMCIA adapters”. The PCMCIA (Personal Computer Memory Card International Association) slot is special expansion slot that is rarely used today on laptops except for wireless and wired network cards and card reader attachments for compact flash and other solid state memory cards. Most laptops now have built in network adapters and some even have built-in wireless adapters. If you do not use your PCMCIA adapter, it is yet another device that can be safely disabled.

Caution:
Do not disable any hardware devices that are located under the Disk Drives, Computer, Display Adapters, IDE Disk Controllers, and the System sections (except for the system speaker) since these hardware devices are critical to the operation of your computer.

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