One of the most frustrating Windows issues is slow startup speed. When Windows takes forever to boot, you'll dread turning on or rebooting your computer.
Thankfully, slow booting is a solvable issue. We'll show you the most common fixes for slow startup problems in Windows 10.
This guide is focused on Windows 10. See How to Fix a Slow Startup on Windows 11 for instructions specific to that version of Windows.
1. Disable Fast Startup
One of the most problematic settings that will cause slow boot times in Windows 10 is the fast startup option. This is enabled by default and is supposed to reduce startup time by pre-loading some boot information before your PC shuts off. (Note that while this applies to shutting down, restarting your computer isn't affected by this feature.)
While the name sounds promising, it causes issues for a lot of people. Thus, it's the first setting you should toggle when you have slow boot problems.
To disable Fast Startup, open Settings and browse to System > Power & sleep. On the right side of this screen, click Additional power settings to open the Power Options menu in the Control Panel.
Here, click Choose what the power buttons do on the left sidebar. You'll need to provide administrator permission to change the settings on this page, so click the text at the top of the screen that reads Change settings that are currently unavailable.
Now, untick Turn on fast startup (recommended), followed by Save Changes, to disable this setting.
If you don't see fast startup here, you don't have hibernation enabled and thus it won't show up. To enable hibernation, open an administrator Command Prompt or PowerShell window. You can do this by right-clicking on the Start button or hitting Win + X and choosing Command Prompt (Admin) or Windows PowerShell (Admin).
Type the following command to enable hibernation, then try to disable fast startup again:
powercfg /hibernate on
2. Adjust Paging File Settings
Virtual memory is the name of a function that makes Windows dedicate part of your storage drive as pretend RAM—this section is called the paging file. With more RAM, you can have more tasks running on your system at once. So if Windows is close to maxing out actual RAM, it dips into virtual memory.
Some people have found that Windows 10 can change virtual memory settings on its own, causing boot issues. You should thus have a look at your virtual memory settings and see if you can change them to fix the slow boot problem.
To do this, type Performance into the Start Menu and choose Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows. Under the Advanced tab, you'll see the size of the paging file; click Change to edit it.
On the resulting window, the bottom values are what's important. You'll see a Recommended amount of memory and a Currently Allocated value. Some users having this issue find that their current allocation is way over the recommended number.
If yours looks off in the same way, uncheck Automatically manage paging file size for all drives to make changes. Then choose Custom Size and set the Initial Size and Maximum Size to the recommended values that appear for your system (which may be different than the below screenshot). Reboot, and your boot times should improve.
3. Turn Off the Linux Subsystem
Windows 10 offers a full Linux terminal in addition to other shell environments like the classic Command Prompt. This is exciting for developers, but it might also be the culprit of your boot issues. However, this feature isn't turned on by default. So if you don't know what Bash is, you likely don't need to try this step, as you would know if you had turned it on.
To turn off the Linux shell, type Windows features into the Start Menu to open the Turn Windows features on or off menu. Scroll down to Windows Subsystem for Linux, uncheck it, and restart.
If this fixes your slow boot issues but you still need the Bash interface, try the new Windows terminal for another option.
4. Update Graphics Drivers
Windows 10 is known to mess with drivers, unfortunately. Updating your graphics card drivers can sometimes fix boot issues, so you should give that a look next.
Open the Device Manager by right-clicking on the Start button (or hitting Win + X) and choosing Device Manager. Navigate to Display adapters to see which graphics card you're using (typically Nvidia or AMD if you have a dedicated graphics card).
You can usually open the corresponding vendor software on your PC to check for graphics driver updates. If you don't have the software, you'll need to navigate to the vendor's website (or your laptop manufacturer's website, if you're using integrated graphics) to check for driver updates.
Install any new versions available, restart, then see if your boot times speed up.
We've covered updating your computer drivers in more detail if you need help. Hopefully, an update will fix your issue. It could be worth checking for other driver updates while you're doing this, but graphics drivers are the most common ones that will cause slow booting.
While you're installing updates, it's not a bad idea to check for Windows updates at Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and install anything that's pending.
5. Disable Some Startup Programs
Perhaps your slow boot time isn't caused by one of the problems above. If you experience slowness between logging in and actually getting to use your computer, too many programs running at startup could be the culprit.
Upon installation, or even sometimes when updating, a lot of software sets itself to automatically run at startup. If you have dozens of apps loading as soon as you log in, this can really bog your system down. Follow our guide to removing heavy startup programs and see if unloading a few makes a difference.
6. Run an SFC Scan
The SFC (System File Checker) command will check your Windows installation for corrupted system files and try to replace them with working copies. It's worth running this to troubleshoot the startup issue, as some Windows files responsible for the booting process could be the cause of your slow startup.
See our guide to SFC and related Command Prompt tools to learn how to use it.
7. If All Else Fails, Perform a Reset
If you've tried all the above solutions and still can't speed up your boot time, it might be best to cut your losses and reinstall a fresh copy of Windows 10.
You have several options for resetting your PC. The built-in Refresh option can reinstall Windows without removing any of your files. You should still back up your computer data before doing this, though.
Head to Settings > Update & Security > Recovery and select Get started under Reset this PC to start.
8. Upgrade Your Storage Drive
If you run Windows from an HDD, you'll experience slow performance across the board. Hard disk drives are great for storing lots of data for a low cost, but are too slow to use as your main OS disk these days.
If possible on your machine, you should look to upgrade to an SSD, which will improve Windows' performance considerably. This does incur an additional cost, but an SSD is a major upgrade you'll appreciate.
Slow Booting in Windows 10, Begone
Hopefully, applying one or all of these fixes worked for you. Slow startup times are a huge pain, but you thankfully have options to combat this. If nothing else works, hold out for the next major Windows 10 release, which should hopefully clear up the issue. Alternatively, consider updating to Windows 11.
In case your slowness persists well after booting, you should be aware of other ways to make your Windows PC faster, too.