Friday, May 8, 2009

HP Boot Optimizer HPBootOp, Infests HP Computers

Those of you with HP or Compaq computers may find a curious piece of software with the name HPBootOp living happily in your RAM. What is this fellow and what does he do? Well, he loads various services and drivers at boot time. He makes the computer boot appear faster by waiting until after the login screen appears. Most of us measure boot time from pressing the power on button until the login screen appears. Sluggishness after the login screen doesn't count.
Why do we care? Simple, hpbootop was loading a couple of drivers/ram_eaters that I didn't want loaded. In particular it was loading ctfmon, a plump Microsoft slower-downer that supports voice entry, Braille, and pareplegics tapping on the keyboard with a stick taped to their foreheads. And it eats up megs and megs of scarce RAM. There is a Microsoft documented procedure to prevent ctfmon from loading. I executed the procedure a couple of times with no luck. Ctfmon popped right back into RAM. That was a while ago, and I let the matter drop.
Yesterday, on the track of something else, I stumbled across an HPBootOp key in the registry. It had subkeys Delay1 and Delay2. Those subkeys had names of programs, including my old buddy ctfmon. Ah hah.
A bit of web surfing turned up this and this from HP explaining how to get rid of HPBootOp and how to restore him if you might want him back.
HPBootOp is persistant, and when you kill him he plants keys in the registry to start all the things he used to start. I used the StartManager program to turn off all the ones I didn't want, starting with ctfmon. This time ctfmon stayed dead.
Did HPBootOp speed up my boot? Not much, if at all. Timing with a plain wrist watch, boot time with the optomizer was 46-48 seconds. Without it I get 49-51 seconds. And without Ctfmon and his other sluggish friends, the computer runs faster.

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