How-to: Disable Windows Startup Applications

Windows 7 MSConfig - Startup tabHave you noticed how much longer it takes for your PC to boot up when you’ve had it for a while? How it takes longer for the desktop to appear and how the system response time seems to slow down over time?

Is this the computer equivalent of old age? Dementia? Arthritis in the hard disk and Alzheimers in the memory? No. It’s software, the volume of which soaks up resources as you install more and more of it.

By default, many of the programs you install are placed in the Startup group to run automatically every time you start your PC. You will see a lot of them on your Taskbar or notification area. As well as hardware drivers and utilities, control panels and the like, common favourites such as Adobe Acrobat Reader and Apple iTunes sit there alongside your Anti-Virus notifier, instant messaging, calendars and all that other kruft. Your PC manufacturer will probably have saddled you with a collection of sponsored ‘crapware’ to boost the profit margin, most of which you won’t need.

Some of these are package update programs. There is no third party interface into Windows Update, so all the other software vendors have to include their own update routines. For some software, it is worth keeping those update utilities running – your Anti-Virus program for instance.

For others, for example Adobe Acrobat, you don’t need that running all the time. Whilst PDF files are a known source of virus infection, it only attacks through certain versions of the Reader. If you must run Adobe’s resource-hungry bloatware, you might consider running the update manually – weekly or monthly – as a safety check. Or get a different PDF Reader.

You might want to run the iTunes update only when you run the software. And for pity’s sake get rid of that atrocious Bonjour collection of random ‘crapware’

How to get rid of them? In Windows 7, there is the MSConfig tool which you can use to disable unwanted
programs, and not just those in the Startup group.

To run the MSConfig editor, type msconfig in the Start menu search box. When loaded, click the Startup tab which lists all the programs that auto-run every time you turn on your PC. Pick out the programs you want to keep; AVG Anti-virus and SpiderOak cloud storage run on mine, along with the trackpad utility.

Most of the listed startup applets qualify as useful, but not full-time essential. I uncheck most of the applets on my Startup list to save a lot of time and resources. AJS

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