How To Manage Windows Startup Items and Double The Speed Of Your Computer

Sometimes, when you turn on your computer, it seems that windows takes forever to start up. There are several causes for this problem but one of the most common is because there are too many applications at startup. Having one or two applications that run at startup, usually isn’t an issue, but any more than four or five can quickly turn into a serious problem, as half a dozen programs or more will invariably compete for memory. There are many commercial solutions that offer to automate this process, but it’s more important to learn how to do it manually, so that way as a consumer, you save money by not spending it unnecessarily.

The first method, but not the most extensive, is using the System Configuration Utility. This program can be started by entering “msconfig” in Start>Run, or typing “msconfig” at the command prompt. There are several tabs, but the one to be concerned with is the one labelled “Startup”. This contains a list of all the applications that are initialized when windows starts up. Generally speaking, it’s safe to disable all of the startup items in this tab, since they’re not truly critical windows services. This rule of thumb doesn’t always hold true, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with what applications, if any, are system critical and which ones aren’t. The other tabs, with the exception of “Services” (which will be covered later), will serve little purpose to the average user, and won’t really help achieve what we’re set out to accomplish, which is to speed up the computer’s performance by removing startup items.

Also keep in mind that msconfig.exe’s startup tab only deals with startup items located in the following areas of the windows registry, with the exception of the last two, being located in folders on the actual hard drive itself:

HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows\Run
HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows\Load
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup
C:\Documents and Settings\{Username}\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

The next method of handling more startup items is one that should only be performed by intermediate to advanced windows users with some expertise in properly handling the windows registry. By running regedit.exe, the following locations can be edited in case there are applications not corrected by the aforementioned method:

HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Userinit

The last, often unnecessary, but sometimes needed method occurs not with third party applications, but windows components and services themselves, which sometimes are enabled by default, but are incompatible with hardware, or at times, unneeded given the constraints of the computing environment that windows is installed under. Keep in mind that this last option should only be done by a user or administrator with extensive experience regarding system services and components.

Enter “services.msc” into either Start>Run or at the command prompt. The Windows Services Manager will appear, and give a detailed list of all services and componenets present on the current system. Right clicking and selecting “Properties” will allow you to set the service to manual, automatic, or disabled. As stated before, only use this method if you are entirely sure of what you’re doing, as disabling some critical services can have an adverse affect on how Windows itself will operate. Even though there are many commercial solutions available on the internet offering to speed up your computer’s performance by disabling startup items, most of the tasks that are offered can be achieved simply by using standard tools that are provided with Windows by default, thus saving you time and money in the long run.

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