Windows – Remove Startup Items

Software publishers claim there applications run better because part of the program is placed into memory upon start-up. The idea is, whenever you call upon their application, some of it is already loaded. This in turn helps the program launch faster. Great in theory, but what happens when you have 10 to 20 unused applications in start-up that you never use. Those unused start-up programs are using your system resources and will slow your computer down.

Over the years I’ve watched fellow Computer Technicians remove start-up programs. 90% of the time they go straight to MSCONFIG and start un-checking boxes. There’s a problem with that. If you un-check just one of the boxes listed under the start-up tab, you place the computer into Selective Start-up Mode. MSCONFIG was not really designed to be a start-up management utility. It was designed to help troubleshoot issues at start-up. With older versions of Windows, Selective Start-up turned off key functions such as registry backups.

The correct way to remove programs from starting up is as followed. This method works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Note: Before making any changes to your computer it is always recommended that you create a Windows Restore Point. This helps just in case something goes wrong. (Control Panel > System > System Protection > Create)

#1 – Click on Start > All Programs > Start-up. See if the program is listed in the start-up folder. If it is, right click on it and select Delete. If it’s not listed, move on to the next step.

#2 – Open the application in question. Check preferences, options, or settings to find the option to not start on boot up. If the option is not there, move on to the next steps.

#3 – Start on Start, in the search box type MSCONFIG. Use MSCONFIG to view the application in question. MSCONFIG may show detailed information that can be useful in the next step.

#4 – Click on Start, in the search box type REGEDIT. When REGEDIT opens, click on File > Export. Under the Export Range select All. For the File Name, give it a file name that’s easy to remember. I normally name my registry file whatever today’s date is.

#5 – Locate HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and click on the arrow to expand. We are looking for the RUN folder. Expand all of the following folders in order.


All start-up programs will be displayed in the panel on the right. To remove an entry, simply right click on it and select Delete. It is now time to reboot your computer and see if it worked.

If you run into a problem after you reboot, click on Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore. The System Restore will take you back to a time before your recent changes.

What are your thoughts, do you have a better method to remove start-up programs?

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Category: Computer How-To

About the Author ()

JC is an MCSA, MCTS, MCP, Net+ and A+ Certified Technician. He is also an avid Web Developer, WordPress Jedi, SEO Connoisseur and owner of an IT Firm in the Midwest. During the day he helps tackles Server Administration and Desktop Support issues for small business. With over 15 years experience installing, configuring and troubleshooting retail and enterprise software, he's seen it all. Please use the comments section or contact page to reach out.

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