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Last update :- 16th January, 2003
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The intention of these pages is to provide a central resource for PC users and Tech Support staff alike who are concerned about the poor performance of their PCs due to the number of programs that run at system start-up. The following information is provided:

DISCLAIMER: It is assumed that users are familiar with the operating system they are using and comfortable with making the suggested changes. I will not be held responsible if changes you make cause a system failure.

Paul Collins
(aka Pacman)
Pacman's Portal



Virtually all applications you install using the default installation these days decide that they should start-up when Windows starts. If you allow these to take control, you can end up with a situation where (unless you have sufficient memory installed) every other program slows down to be unusable.

The reason for this is that all of these programs use a portion of the system memory and resources which leaves a smaller percentage for other programs once they're opened. On my system for example, prior to tweaking I had 33 programs running at start-up with the system resources at 59% and Windows took an age before it was ready for use. Post tweaking I had a mere 10, with system resources back to 92% and Windows was up and running within a minute.


Win9x/Me/2K/XP users:

Use the "System Configuration Utility" (MSCONFIG) to identify startup programs. MSCONFIG is available for all Win9x/Me/2K/XP users (Win95/2K user can use the respective versions from here).

You invoke it by clicking Start then Run. In the Open box, type msconfig.exe followed by enter. Once displayed, click on the "Startup" tab. You will see a list of items and the 2 columns that we're interested in are "Name" (WinME) or "Startup Item" (WinXP) and "Command". For Win98 the columns aren't named but the one on the left is the equivalent of "Name" and the one on the right is the equivalent of "Command":

msconfig98.gif (10075 bytes)

msconfig.gif (19001 bytes)

xp_msconfig.gif (13040 bytes)




WinNT users:

Use a free utility from SysInternals called AutoRuns v1.2, which displays all the startup locations. Highlight an item and click on "Jump to" and it will take you to the appropriate startup location, including the registry keys where appropriate:

autoruns.gif (13827 bytes)

If the registry editor is opened (REGEDIT), you will see a list of items and the 2 columns I'm interested in are "Name" and "Data":

regedit.gif (15929 bytes)

Alternatively, you can use a startup manager.


(1) The "Close Program" window in Win9x/Me and "Task Manager" window in WinNT/2K/XP (both can be accessed via the CTRL+ALT+DEL key combination) displays some startup programs AND other background tasks and "Services". This site is concerned with startup programs ONLY (from the common startup locations) and if you're interested in other background tasks try AnswersThatWork

(2) I won't be including "Services" from the WinNT/2K/XP operating systems. I fully understand that some programs with these OS's use "Services" as an alternative to load their component parts at startup but as I don't use these on a regular basis I would not feel comfortable advising people on how to handle these. For Win2K services information see TechSpot's article here or Black Viper's article here. For WinCP services see TechSpot's article here or Black Viper's article here


A number of methods can be prevent programs from running at startup. What these are how you use them is described here.

My recommendations are that you try each of the methods listed below in that order. Each method has an indication of which Windows operating system it is applicable to.

1) Using a program's own configuration options - Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP

The best option is to check if a program gives you an option to disable the function you're interested in - via a right-click on a System Tray icon or maybe an "options" menu within the program. If this isn't available then you have to try something else.

For example, Norton SystemWorks has an "Options" tab on the main start-up screen that allows you to configure the utilities in the suite - Norton Utilities, Norton AntiVirus and Norton Cleansweep.

2) Windows StartUp folder - Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP

If you click on Start -> Programs -> StartUp (Win9x/Me/NT/2K) or Start -> All Programs -> StartUp (WinXP) you may find programs loading from here via shortcuts. If this is the case, you have two options :-

3) System Configuration Utility (MSCONFIG) - Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP

Work your way through the list of programs included here and deselect the appropriate boxes in your version then click OK followed by re-starting Windows.


selective.gif (11433 bytes)

4) Use a 3rd party utility to control start-up programs - Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP

There are a number of programs widely available as shareware or freeware that achieve the same purpose. One such is Peter Forrest's "StartMan". Two things that make Peter's program unique are that he has kindly linked to these pages and the list held here within the program and it also handles duplicate entries. Click on the thumbnail below for a screenshot:

startman.gif (17519 bytes)

"StartMan is a startup manager created to address some of the shortcomings in Microsoft's original System Configuration Utility (MSCONFIG.EXE). MSCONFIG is primarily a troubleshooting tool, not a startup manager, and as such it does not permit the permanent removal of startups - they can only be disabled."

Peter also includes detailed information on the loactions where startup programs reside in the documentation for "StartMan" here.

Want to try other start-up managers? Try from the list given here.

5) The System Registry - Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP

Note: if you are running NT and don't have a startup manager you only have this choice remaining, which is a last resort.

You can both disable and permanently stop programs from running during start-up by editing the relevant entries from the System Registry using REGEDIT. This option isn't for the faint hearted and should only be used by those who are comfortable with editing the System Registry and understand what implications any changes may have. If you delete something from the System Registry accidentally, it may be corrupted to the extent that Windows may not re-start at all so beware.

For information about the Windows registry and editing it's contents try the Windows Guide Network registry pages.

To invoke the Registry Editor, click Start then Run. In the Open box, type regedit.exe followed by enter.

The keys you're interested in are as follows:-



The list of applications is available in one of three formats, updated every Thursday (where possible). If you're a regular visitor and just need to know what program entries have changed in the full list consult the Monthly Updates

All programs are listed alphabetically according to "Name" or "Startup Item" (from MSCONFIG, Registry, etc) rather than "Command" or "<filename>.exe".

I have marked each entry in the table according to a general consensus of opinions. Of course, you may disagree with some of these:

Entries in the list highlighted with a ? and those in red indicate that they are unfinished. This may be due to:

If you can help fill in the missing information then please let me know.


PLEASE READ THIS before submitting new programs to be added to the list. Submissions can be made via E-mail or the Message Board:

The following information would be useful:




Thanks to Mike Healan for providing the following mirrors: - this page - the full list in HTML format - the zipped version of the full list - the self-executeable - the updates page


Startups: - By Microsoft.

Knowledge Base article explains the purpose behind MSCONFIG and why you may see double entries

Streamlining Startups - By PCForrest

Author of "StartMan" which links to the program list referred to by this site. You can also see the author's orginal list of applications with a very good explanation of what you can do to prevent them running - By DJDenham

Another list of applications good explanation of the background to this page - by John Mayer

An alternative version of displaying the information in my full startup list

Startup managers:

The following startup managers and other utilities use the information from this site:

Ace Utilities from Hari Krishnan

jv16 PowerTools from Jouni Vuorio

StartMan from Peter Forrest


Counterexploitation - "Actively protect your rights. Do not let the Man keep you down. Do what is good and right, not what some authority figure tells you is good and right. Challenge the belief systems of yourself and your society. Stay informed and keep others informed. Use logic and reason for positive social change. And above all, don't take crap from anybody!"

Good site for learning more about spyware, other silent install apps and "craputers". Slightly controversial in places but useful resource.

"Not sure if the free software you are about to download is in fact a so called Spyware or Adware or otherwise advertising enhanced product that installs additional third party components on your system?"


"This site is dedicated to giving you the tools and knowledge you need to protect your privacy from the onslaught of spyware, adware, and corporate and government surveillance. Particular attention is paid to detecting and defeating spyware"


Sandra Hardmeier is one Microsoft's Most Valued Professionals (MVP) and this page on her site is dedicated to spware/adware/malware, hijackers and other annoyances


Alphabetical list and descriptions of common spware/adware/malware and other annoyances plus software to eliminate these and tojans, etc


Free multi-spyware removal tool from Lavasoft

Spybot - Search & Destroy

Free multi-spyware removal tool from Patrick Kolla

Spyware Eliminator

Aluria Software's multi-spyware removal tool



For hardware and software tweaking, reviews and news. Includes their guides to Win2K and WinXP services

Black Viper

Features OS install guides and tricks. Includes guides to Win2K and WinXP services



An online helpdesk with answers to questions on hardware, software, configuration and others. Includes a companion list of background programs (or tasks) as listed by name when you press CTRL+ALT+DEL to display the "Close Program" or "Task Manager" windows.

General Help: - Rick Selby's Microsoft Windows Help Page

Useful tips and tricks for Windows covering topics as diverse as installing Windows to defragmenting and error messages

I am pleased to announce that Pacman's Portal Start Up Tips is recommended as a critical tool for keeping your computer in top shape in Alan Luber's new book, PC Fear Factor: The Ultimate PC Disaster Prevention Guide. This comprehensive, uncompromising guide to PC disaster prevention and recovery is written in clear, non-technical language that anyone can understand. It provides detailed, step-by-step instruction on how to prevent most computer disasters, and how to recover quickly, easily, and completely from unavoidable computer disasters. 

Read the Introduction

Learn More About the Book

Buy the Book

This site is used by Tech Support staff from the following organizations (amongst others):-

Please note that none of the above organizations sponsor this site. If you would like your organization shown here along with a link then please let me know. If you would like your logo removing please also let me know.

Copyright February 2001, Paul Collins
All rights reserved