Stop certain programs from launching at startup and Windows will run quicker
Q I am trying to clean up my Windows XP computer so it runs faster. As part of this endeavour I have been trying to prevent certain programs from launching with Windows.
Using Microsoft’s System Configuration Utility (MSConfig), I have removed ticks from various items listed on the Startup tab. This prevents the programs from running but when Windows restarts it informs me that some programs have been disabled and that startup is not considered ‘Normal’, but ‘Selective’.
I assume there are three ways to stop programs from launching with Windows: disable them in a Startup list (as I have done); remove them completely from the Startup list, or uninstall them via Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel.
How do I achieve the second one? Also, what is a reasonable number of applications to have launch at startup?
A Your three prevention methods are correct, though you have overlooked a fourth, which is to have an offending application remove itself from startup. Most programs have an option to do this and, once done, the program should disappear from the System Configuration Utility’s Startup tab.
However, not all applications are so well behaved and even uninstalling some programs may not remove entries from the Startup tab. This is because the information is stored in the Windows Registry and, unless the program uninstalls itself cleanly – and far from all do – then the Startup entries will remain, effectively orphaned, but useless and messy.
It is possible to clean out these entries manually but, as ever, we must warn that any meddling with the Registry is at your own risk: make a mistake and you could cause big problems for your computer. So back up all the files on your hard disk first and proceed carefully.
To begin, click the Start button on the taskbar and then Run. Type regedit into the Open box and press Enter. Now use Registry Editor to navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig.
Here you’ll find several subkeys but the ones to pay attention to are ‘services’, ‘startupfolder’ and ‘startupreg’ – because these contain the Registry entries for items unticked in the System Configuration Utility.
Double-check that this is indeed the case and right-click an entry, choose Delete from the pop-up menu and then click Yes to confirm, then simply repeat this for all unwanted entries.
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