Manage Startup programs in Vista
Tip of the day: Speed up and optimize your Vista machine by managing which programs load when Vista boots, and eliminate unnecessary background tasks in one simple step.
I know.. I know. I have never started an article with the “tip of the day”, and I promise I won’t make a habit of it. It’s just when you write six-days-a-week, you need to shake things up a little– every now and then –just to keep from getting stale.
One of my earliest “optimization” articles, My Startup folder is a clown car, has also proven over time to be one of the more popular “how to’s” I have posted. It describes removing program shortcuts from the Startup folder as a method for making Windows boot up faster (which has the added benifit of reducing ‘background’ use of CPU cycles). This technique is applicable to XP (and older) versions of Windows.
In a different article, I answered a reader question and described another method for managing Startup programs: the built-in msconfig tool. This method works on all versions of Windows, including Vista. The msconfig tool is authoritative and effective, but it has an annoying side-effect of opening a little dialogue window –each boot-up– that tells you it has done its job and “blocked” programs from starting. (Yes, msconfig. I know. I told you to. Remember? Sheeze.) Today’s method avoids that annoyance.
Tip of the day: Use Windows Defender to stop unwanted programs from loading at startup.
Vista comes with Microsoft’s anti-spyware program, “Windows Defender” installed; and Defender* has a tool built into it called “Software Explorer” which allows you select whether a program loads during the boot process (start-up). To see the list of what is currently loading, open Defender by clicking Start >Programs, and click on Windows Defender. When Defender opens, click on the “Tools” gray gear icon.
Now click on the “Software Explorer” hyperlink, and be patient while your hard drive is scanned and the list of programs “populates”. Make sure the “Category” is set to “Startup Programs” (the default).
You may be surprised at just how many programs, or bits of programs, have managed to work their way into your Startup, and you may be tempted to get aggressive and start turning them off with reckless abandon. My advice in this area has to be somewhat general, but I would not turn off anything with “update” in its name. Also, if you’re simply not sure what something is, there will be a description in the right-hand pane of whatever item is ‘selected’ (single-click) in the left-hand pane.. which should help you decide. Be very conservative when dealing with Windows’ services (as in leave them alone).
In the screenshot above, I have ‘selected’ a program called “Reality Fusion Tray Application”, which happily installed itself when I hooked up a webcam. (It is supposed to be some “cool” thing for online gaming.. I guess.) Not only does this useless (to me, anyway) service slow down my boot, but it puts one more icon in my already over-crowded Notification Area. It’s gotta go!
Select the item you want to prevent from automatically starting (at boot time) — Reality Fusion in my example– by clicking once on it. Then click on the “Disable” button in the lower-right. Repeat this process for all the programs you wish to “un-automate”.
The next time you boot up your computer, these programs will not launch automatically, and you will have a leaner, meaner, faster machine.
If for some reason you experience any future troubles or odd behaviors because of these actions, simply open Defender and “Enable” the program/service again.
*Free link of the day: For those of you who aren’t running Vista, Microsoft offers Windows Defender as a free download.
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