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.
Autoruns' Hide 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 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!