Stop autoloading programs in Windows 7 & 8

Windows 7 and earlier versions

Click Start, type msconfig, and press Enter. This brings up the System Configuration page.

Click the Startup tab for a table listing your autoloaders. Now you can uncheck those you don’t want.

But first, you have to figure out what each autoloader does. Usually the program’s name makes it obvious. But sometimes the names aren’t clear.

If the name isn’t helpful, you can usually get an idea by examining the Manufacturer and Command columns in the table. These will tell you who published the software, and where the file is on your drive (usually the folder for a program you installed). If all else fails, use your favorite search engine to find more about the name.

Remember that you can always experiment. Uncheck something and see if that makes things better or worse. The last column, Date Disabled, provides a record of what you’ve just unchecked.

Windows 8

In the old-fashioned Desktop environment, right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager. Once it’s up, click the Startup tab.

This table doesn’t give as much information as the old Msconfig one, but it’s easier to read. And if you know where to look, the information is there.

One particularly useful column is the last one: Startup impact. It tells you—in admittedly vague terms—how much that program slows boot time. This can help you decide what to remove.

To disable an autoloader, right-click it and select Disable.

And take a look at the other options on that context menu. Open file location shows you where the program is located on your hard drive—a good clue about who put it there. And if you really can’t figure it out, select Search online to see what the Internet says about this program.

Unfortunately, this Startup tool lacks Date Disabled information. If you’re going to experiment with disabling various autoloaders, make a note about which ones you just disabled. That way, if something fails, you can fix it.

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