Is Windows very slow on startup? Do some spring cleaning with Autoruns!


I am extremely hard on my computers.  My job is to keep up with new technology, so I am constantly trying out new software and installing pre-release software (and all of the bugs that may come with it) on my box.  Over time, with the quantity of software that I install, it’s natural that my machine starts to slow down…various pieces of software install themselves to run on startup.  Many of them I don’t use anymore, or don’t use every day, and therefore I’d like to remove them from running on startup.  Here’s how to do that. 

For those of you who aren’t familiar, there are a wealth of great tools at http://sysinternals.com (check out the “Top 10 Downloads” list in the left-hand sidebar).  These tools were created by Mark Russinovich, a Technical Fellow at Microsoft and well-known guru of the internals of the Windows operating system. 

One of these tools is Autoruns (download it for free from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902).  It’s a gem that really should just ship with the Windows operating system. 

Here is the official summary of the tool from the Autoruns site:

This utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor, shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and shows you the entries in the order Windows processes them. These programs include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. You can configure Autoruns to show other locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and much more. Autoruns goes way beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows Me and XP.

AutorunsHide Signed Microsoft Entries option helps you to zoom in on third-party auto-starting images that have been added to your system and it has support for looking at the auto-starting images configured for other accounts configured on a system. Also included in the download package is a command-line equivalent that can output in CSV format, Autorunsc.

Here’s a screenshot of the tool. 

Autoruns

Autoruns displays each location that contains autostart items in the order that the locations are processed during system startup and user logon; within each location, all entries are listed in alphabetical order. 

Note that I’ve selected the “Everything” tab.  This shows EVERYTHING that runs on startup on my machine (and there is a lot of junk in there right now).  You can also select different tabs to filter by various locations inside of Windows which can enable auto-start configuration. 

How does it work?  You can disable an entry from running on startup by unchecking the checkbox next to it.  Or, if you are positive that you don’t want something running on startup, you can delete that entry using the Delete menu item or toolbar button (the shortcut key is Ctrl+D).  I recommend disabling entries first and rebooting your machine to ensure that you haven’t messed anything up before deleting entries. 

When you disable an entry, you are essentially moving the startup entry to a subdirectory.  Autoruns creates a backup subdirectory (or subkey in the case of the registry) for the registry key or file system location that causes the autostart and moves that entry to the subdirectory.  For example, I disabled one of the entries under C:\Users\jennmar\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup, and Autoruns created a folder called C:\Users\jennmar\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup\AutorunsDisabled and moved that startup shortcut there. 

If you have questions, there is even an Autoruns Forum where you can get help. 

I’m off to do some spring cleaning and speed up my machine’s startup time!

Comments (16)

  1. Michael Paterson says:

    Great tip Jennifer!  Downloading as we speak!

  2. Dwain Bunker says:

    Nice one Jennifer. Will definitely check this one out.

  3. None of the Sysinternal tools work on Win 7 says:

    I tried running win obj and portman utility after downloading from sysinternals. Error 2 pops up for the portman utility.

    I will definitely appreciate if some one fixes this.

    Regards,

    Ravi Kumar BN

  4. Kristof Mattei says:

    Definitely going to try this out! Thanks!

  5. ppindia says:

    Use it to remove virus and Trojans :)….

  6. Stephen says:

    also consider Soluto (http://www.soluto.com/).  Gives more details on timing, and allows deferred startup.  Not perfect yet, but still very helpful.

  7. ColinDNZ says:

    Why dont you just create a sandbox using VMware to test the "unknown quality" software. this helps negate virus infections as well. you can then delete the sandbox when you are happy and install the software onto your host.

  8. Dave Ihnat says:

    Another take on this is r2 Studios' "Startup Delayer (http://www.r2.com.au/…/news).  Gives you fine-grained control over what to start and how long to delay its start.

  9. Andre Ziegler says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    it only helps if the delay occurs in the WinLogonInit or ExplorerInit phase.

    To completely analyses the slow boot refer to my xbootmgr guide:

    http://www.msfn.org/…/index.php

  10. Mohammad says:

    Hi I am a new user and have arrived here from another forum.

    I have a different problem which I hope you would be able to help me with.

    My computer has started to shut down by itself. It justs cuts out without warning, especially in the following instances:

    1. When I am downloading from the web or installing program updates

    2. When I am backing up files to external media like USB stick, external hard drive

    3. When it's been idle for a while, about 15 minutes.

    Thanks for your help and apologies if I have breached any rules for this forum.

  11. JGeDesign says:

    Look at the system temperatures using PC Wizard (Google the term) from a company called CPU ID.

    These problems normally occur when a system is overtemp. If the Processor (CPU) is reaching temperatures of more than 75 degrees celcius (167 fahrenheit.) You will need to clean out the inside of the system using compressed air (4-5$ in a can.)

    HTH

  12. Onofrei George says:

    Interesting tips. Will take a look. Cheers!!!

  13. jennmar says:

    Michael/Dwain/Kristof/ppIndia/Onofrei – great; hope it was helpful.  

    Ravi – I've used multiple sysinternals tools (Autoruns, Process Explorer, Process Monitor) on Windows 7 and I've never had any issues.  Can you give more detail?  

    ColinDNZ – Good tip, but I'm not a huge fan of using virtual machines for everything.  I do occasionally use VMs when testing, but most of the time I prefer to install on my machine for numerous reasons.  First, they run faster on the metal than on a VM, and I'm impatient.  🙂  Secondly, to truly test and understand something like (for instance) the newest version of Internet Explorer, you have to use it every day during your usual browsing.  Third, there are some tools (like the Windows Phone developer tools) that don't run in a virtual machine (because the phone emulator is itself a virtual machine).  However, this suggestion is good; it just doesn't always work for me.  🙂

  14. master says:

    hey you have provided good and unique tips…thanks for providing valable information like this….you can look into my article about slow startup (windows) here

    http://www.m4master.com/…/slow-startup-windows

  15. David Martins says:

    thanks for the tip, I'm gonna try the tool tonight. I'd like to ask you one question though, why don't you install all those programs you're testing in a virtual machine?

  16. jennmar says:

    @Davide Martins – see my response to ColinDNZ in the comments above!  🙂  Good luck with your cleaning tonight.