It seems like every other piece of software these days wants to install a component that starts when you boot your computer. This can be quite a frustrating experience when the computer boots up Windows very slowly, and then you have to wait for all the unnecessary hidden processes to load and everything to get itself into the the system tray. Waiting for a few minutes or more is not uncommon after the desktop is visible while these extras are loaded and the computer is still virtually unusable until it’s all finished.
Not only does this problem cause the machine to boot much slower, these startup items also consumes more system memory, can increase internet traffic, and use extra processing power to keep everything running in the background. With that in mind, it makes sense that reducing what starts with your PC can make a BIG difference. And not just to the speed of your Windows boot, but also some improvements can be made to general all round performance.
Disabling programs from booting with Windows is one of the most common system tweaks you can perform and it’s even easily possible through Windows itself. Here’s a few programs that can display your list of startup items and help to disable or delete them. If you find a startup item that you can’t identify it or you want to know a little bit more, this useful website resource lists hundreds of known startup processes and gives detail about what they are and whether they’re safe to disable. If you want a bit more information about disabling startup items using the Windows System Configuration Utility (msconfig), have a read of another article on ways to help Windows boot faster.
StartUpLite by Malwarebytes has a great idea of giving you a reasonable description of what each startup item is and what it’s for. Sadly though, development seems to have stopped for this tool some time ago which is a real shame as it’s one of the only programs around to give you some useful information about your startup items. StartUpLite is portable and you just need to download the program and run it to be presented with a list of some of the processes in your startup.
Around 100 programs are recognized by default which is a bit small compared to the 1,000’s of possible startup entries there are. At least you’ll get some useful detail about what is detected and you can choose to disable an item or remove it completely, which is only recommended if you’re 100% you don’t want it.
Do be aware that items will default to “Disable” so if you want to keep any they need to be set to “No action” before you press the Continue button to process. Although there doesn’t seem to be any pre-compiled lists about, StartupLite will recognize a custom.txt text file in the same folder where you can insert your own list of found startup items, which is a great thing to keep adding new entries to over time.
2. NirSoft WhatInStartup
Like all Nirsoft tools, WhatInStartup is a tiny utility that does what it’s designed to do quickly and efficiently, with the minimum of fuss. While it doesn’t give you a custom description like StartupLite, you will get the full names and any descriptions many vendors choose to insert choose into their executable files. WhatInStartup is a tiny portable executable that runs on any version of Windows from 2000 to 7.
There is more advanced information there if you want it including registry locations and the path to the process as well as dates and file sizes etc. An entry can simply be disabled, enabled or deleted using the red and green icons or by right clicking on the startup item.
The context menu also has a few other useful options like directly starting a Google search for the selected Product Name or Executable Name which can be used if the details on the startup item within WhatInStartup are a bit scarce. For the more advanced user, you can also look at the startup items from an offline Windows install.
Everyone’s favorite privacy and junk removal tool CCleaner also has a rather basic but still perfectly usable startup item management function. Only the program name, the publisher and the location the executable file resides in are displayed but it might be enough information for you to decide what to do with the entry.
When you download and install it, or simply use the portable version, the startup items are displayed by going to the Tools button and clicking the Startup option. There are the usual options to enable, disable or delete the entry, and the “Save to text file” option is handy to use if you’re thinking about making a custom list for the Malwarebytes StartUpLite utility above.
A few more advanced options in this window are for Internet Explorer startups, scheduled tasks and also context menu entries which are worth having a look at while you’re there. CCleaner is definitely a tool everybody should try out at least once because it works on just about any version of Windows and is just so good at what it does with over complicating things.
4. Glary Startup Manager / Quick Startup
This program comes as either a standalone installer program or as part of the excellent Glary Utilities maintenance and optimizing software which has also a portable version if you don’t want to install anything.
Glary has an additional feature which is a security rating system that is community based and rates a recognized startup item based on input from other users. The more red in the rating bar, the more useless or even possibly dangerous the startup process has been rated. Click the “more information” link at the bottom to go to the Glarysoft Community website where you can find out more and read comments from other users who have come across the same startup process.
Entries can be enabled, disabled or deleted. Another useful function is the ability to delay startup items by a set amount of seconds which is something you could try if you have many startup items you want to keep because they will all try to load at once. Staggering the load time could help make the system more responsive when you first reach the desktop after booting. Glary Startup Manager / Quick Startup works from Windows 9x up to Windows 7.
No article about startup items would be complete without mentioning the techies favorite tool Autoruns for getting the job done! Although not for the novice, Autoruns shows entries for a number of startup options not just the standard process items, such as Scheduled tasks, Drivers, Services, network functions and lots more.
Autoruns is a standalone executable, so simply run it and select the Logon tab or you’ll see everything in the program at once. Clicking an entry shows some detail about it at the bottom of the window and you can untick it to disable or highlight and delete. There’s also options to analyze an offline system’s startup items and search online for unknown or suspicious entries.
Autoruns is a tool no advanced user is without and is great for analyzing most things related to the Windows startup process. It works on Windows XP and above.