Identifying Programs Running at Startup On Your PC

Probably the most common complaint I hear from computer users at home is that their computer is as slow as a turtle when it starts up.

Computer - Slow as a turtle!

This problem usually occurs as a result of to many background tasks loading as the computer boots. These background tasks are usually associated with programs that you have installed on the computer. For example, have you ever noticed that after you have installed a program on your computer you may see a new icon in the Windows taskbar tray? This is an example of a background task or program that has loaded and the icon is the visual indicator that the program is standing by. Keep in mind and please know that not all programs leave a visual indicator that it may have added itself to the startup routine of your computer.  As a matter of fact, virus and malware payloads often will hide and become activated in the startup routine.

In essence, over a period of time, and as a result of numerous software installs, the boot time of the computer will diminish and progressively become worse. One option to keep a program from loading at startup is to check within the culprit software and look through the menu options to determine if there is an option to prevent the program from loading when Windows starts. Now keep in mind there are programs that need to load in order to keep your computer running smoothly and to protect your computer.  For example, most antivirus or security software programs need to load as a background task or service at startup.

Now, if you are techie enough and know how to dig down into the startup routine of your PC using an utility such as Autoruns then you may need a second opinion resource to identify the actual program filenames you may be seeing; even though Autoruns does have the capability to perform a file search.

A good option for that second opinion is a web site called – Startup Applications List that is a comprehensive list of programs and program filenames you may find that run when you switch on your PC. When using the list pay special attention to the “Status” column. This column will provide you with a key that will assist you in determining what is safe to remove and what is not safe to remove.

Status” key:

  • “Y” – Normally leave to run at start-up
  • “N” – Not required or not recommended – typically infrequently used tasks that can be started manually if necessary
  • “U” – User’s choice – depends whether a user deems it necessary
  • “X” – Definitely not required – typically viruses, spyware, adware and “resource hogs”
  • “?” – Unknown

As of the date of this article, the – Startup Applications List site had 23591 items listed.


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2 thoughts on “Identifying Programs Running at Startup On Your PC

Add yours

    1. Paul,

      So much information out there that I can’t keep up with it. Yes, the Sysinfo database is very good and is maintained on a regular basis.

      Thanks for visiting… More rain here in Maryland.



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