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I'm trying to reduce the start up time of a Windows 2k8 R2 Core installation and I was wondering if the GUI can be removed to return windows to a DOS type envrionment at the console. Why would I want this? Simple: Load time. I want the shortest load time possible. I've already considered network booting from ramdisks as a solution to speed the boot time however, I figure that having less to boot would be the best choice.

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I'm confused. A Core installation doesn't have a GUI. What are you referring to? – joeqwerty Mar 26 '11 at 16:48
Doesn't make sense to me. You want Windows without Windows? If you need a headless OS go with a Linux distribution. – derchris Mar 26 '11 at 18:28
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Core is as thin as you can get the Windows 2008 R2 OS without disabling services that likely won't affect your boot time. Things you can do to speed boot time:

  1. Make it a virtual machine. On modern server hardware the BIOS, SAS Card, etc. take the majority of boot time and if your app server is virtual it only has a small BIOS boot delay.
  2. Ensure that PXE booting and any unnecessary devices are disabled in BIOS
  3. Make the HD boot first in BIOS so there is no delay looking for a DVD drive
  4. Current drivers. Old and bad 3rd party drivers are the biggest reason most computers boot slow and bluescreen according to Microsoft. You can see if anything is causing unusual delays using the Windows Performance Analysis Tools.
  5. SSD will definitely make Windows boot faster, but we're talking seconds here... (assuming you're currently using server-class modern disks like 10k SAS). I would do everything else here before going this route if you're JUST trying to improve boot speed.
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