Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Windows Startup Locations

I hate HP Printers. I really do.

I have an Officejet all-in-one printer for my day to day printing and a Photosmart printer for my wife's scrapbooking hobby. When I first installed the Photosmart printer, the all-in-one didn't work. Apparently, there was a version conflict in HPs universal controller that didn't allow my aged all-in-one to coexist peacefully with the newer Photosmart technology. (No, not quite as old as the image of the printing press.) I will give HP credit though, hours of phone time with their clear English speaking tech support told me the only solution, after trying all the rest, was to buy a new printer. The biggest problem, I use fast-user-switching at home and the old printer didn't recognize it.

So I buy myself a shiny new all-in-one. This time, though, I make sure it is a network capable printer. Afterall, network printers deal with multiple users all the time, so it must be able to handle fast-user-switching. Besides, I have room on my switch for it. (And the Photosmart has a wired or wireless network option.) After hours of productive conversation with HP Tech Support, I got both printers to work in harmony with eachother on my home network.

By now you are asking yourself what HP Printers have to do with Windows Startup Locations? I'm glad you asked. The problem with HP Printers for home use are that they require that stupid HP Solution Center software. What happened to the good old days of printer drivers instead of printer software? Anyway, that bloated software that I don't use for anything but shoveling out print jobs causes my PC to have 5 minutes startup times. COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. Without the HP software, I can start up in under 30 seconds.

How does one decrease the startup time but keep the software running to be able to print? That's right, registry hack. Turn off all the startup commands put into the registry by HP except for the one that I need to print. But trial and error by backing up and deleting registry keys is very time consuming and could lead to other problems if I delete the wrong one. Not to mention, searching the registry for all those startup locations is a royal PITA. Enter, autoruns.

Autoruns is my new favorite registry tool for finding and removing all those extra startups. And what's best, it's not a true 3rd party app. The link I provided is to Microsoft's Technet on the Sysinternals site. You can run Autoruns through the GUI or via command line for you network admins. My favorite part, autoruns allows you to not only delete unneeded registry entries in the startup locations, but it allows you to just "turn them off" if you want to test it out first, prior to deleting them. And of course, autoruns finds EVERY start up location and event. Talk about easy. Welcome back 30 second startups!

P.S. My next printer will definitely be a business level machine. One that doesn't require software to use, just a driver, a driver that allows for automatic duplexing. One that I can actually use on my network and not via USB even though it is network capable. One that is capable of living in harmony with other printers on a network so there is no software conflict and I'm not forced to go back to USB connection and Windows Printer Sharing to see it on my other nodes. One that works and doesn't say HP on the side.