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How to Disable Startup Programs in Windows

00_msconfig_utility

The more software you install on your computer, the longer it may seem to take to start up Windows. Many programs add themselves to the list of programs started when you boot your computer, and that list can get long.

Editor’s Note: Obviously our more geeky readers already know how to do this, but this article is meant for everybody else. Feel free to share it with your non-techie friends!

Disabling Startup Programs in Windows 7, Vista, or XP

For some programs, it’s smart to have them start with Windows, such as anti-virus and firewall software. However, for most programs, starting them at boot-up just wastes resources and extends startup time. There is a tool installed with Windows, called MSConfig, that allows you to quickly and easily see what’s running at startup and disable the programs you prefer to run on our own after startup as needed. This tool is available and can be used to disable startup programs in Windows 7, Vista, and XP.

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NOTE: MSConfig can be used to configure several things other than just startup programs, so be careful what you do with it. If you’re not sure about using it, just follow the steps in this article and you should be fine.

To run MSConfig, open the Start menu and type “msconfig.exe” (without the quotes) in the Search box. As you type, results display. When you see “msconfig.exe,” click on it or press Enter, if it is highlighted.

NOTE: If you are using Windows XP, open the Run dialog box from the Start menu, type “msconfig.exe” in the Open edit box, and click OK.

01_starting_msconfig

Click the Startup tab on the System Configuration main window. A list of all the startup programs displays with a check box next to each one. To prevent a program from starting up with Windows, select the check box next to the desired program so there is NO check mark in the box. Click OK once you have made your choices.

02_turning_off_startup_programs

A dialog box displays telling you that you may need to restart your computer for the changes to take affect. Click Restart to restart your computer immediately. If are not ready to restart your computer, click Exit without restart.

03_restart_dialog

Disabling Startup Programs in Windows 8.1

Windows 8 and 8.1 make it really simple to disable startup applications. All you have to do is open up Task Manager by right-clicking on the Taskbar, or using the CTRL + SHIFT + ESC shortcut key, clicking “More Details”, switching to the Startup tab, and then using the Disable button.

It’s really that simple. If you aren’t seeing these options, make sure to click “More Details”, which is in the same place as the “Fewer details” that you see on this screenshot.

Disabling Startup Programs in CCleaner

The free PC-cleaning utility CCleaner also has a tool that allows you to disable startup programs. In CCleaner, click the Tools button on the left side of the dialog box and click Startup to see the list of startup programs. The Enabled column indicates whether each program is set to start with Windows. To disable a program that is enabled, select the program in the list and click Disable. You can also enable programs that have been disabled.

NOTE: CCleaner does not seem to prompt you to restart your computer, so be sure to do so yourself.

04_using_ccleaner_to_disable_startup_programs

There is a version of CCleaner that costs $24.95 and comes with priority technical support. However, there is a free version available on their builds page as an installable version and a portable version.

Note that some applications need to be configured to stop launching themselves when the computer boots, or they will just add themselves to the list of startup programs again. In this case, there is usually a setting in a program’s options to prevent it from starting with Windows.

We have also written about a tool called Soluto, which allows you to pause or delay startup programs to speed up the boot process.

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Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 11/23/13

Comments (29)

  1. Bostjan Gajsler

    U forgot the best tool for the Job, and yes it is Free. AutoRans from System Internals: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902

  2. Brad

    I’ve been using ccleaner for years and never found a reason to spend $25 for it. Even if you choose a different tool for startup configuration, ccleaner is still worth downloading for all the other wonderful things it does.

  3. KB Prez

    CCleaner is a great tool and I use it a lot. But I prefer Soluto for changing my startup. I like the fact that I can delay the start of programs or remove them altogether. It also tells me what others have done for each program. I find that useful when I’m not sure what to do. Both CCleaner & Soluto are great tools and they’re FREE.

  4. Charlie B

    Another freebie that I have been using is Startup Inspector.

  5. Greg W

    I do not like using MS Config due to the fact that if you click OK even if you did not make any changes, the next restart will bring up this message saying that you have modified it and it may break your system. I use msconfig to find out where it is in the registry and or folder, make a quick minor backup and then start to cleaning. I then use Task Manager to determine which program is set to look for updates and the like. Then I will search out the programs options to see what modifications are being done.

  6. Bill C

    The discouraging thing is the programs that, after you’ve disabled them, merrily load themselves on the next boot.

  7. dgph

    How would a non techie know what programs to leave at start up and which to disable? Thanks.

  8. Bill Randle

    Glary Utilities (free) has a great start-up manager and other good tools.

  9. Wilma

    With these 4 solutions – CCleaner, Soluto, Startup Insepctor and Glary Ulitities (free) which one
    is the best to use….I only want 1 not 4 …my laptop is running slow plus now it is freezing up on me.
    Thank you

  10. tommy2rs

    Non-techies can take a look at blackviper.com for his take on what should run or not.

  11. Dipswitch

    To Brad:
    You say you have never found a reason to spend $25 for it, but then say the exact reason: “all the … wonderful things it does”. Throw the people that created this wonderful program a few bucks and keep them coding!
    (No, I don’t work for the group that created CCCleaner. I just think we need to keep the reasonable guys working.)

  12. Ed

    @Dipwitch , Ditto!

  13. SatoMew

    Windows 8 will make it easier to do this with its revamped Task Manager, since it now has a Startup tab that’s pretty much user-friendly :)

  14. Another Guy Named Brad

    When optimizing a client’s machine, I work backwards…

    -Stop everything from loading at startup
    -Check processes, hiding the Microsoft items
    -Uninstall useless programs
    -Use CCleaner to permanently delete the startup items left by uninstalled applications
    -Scan the computer with Malwarebytes
    -Clear temp files, recycle bin etc.
    -Command line defrag, from safe mode if possible.
    -Start enabling things one at a time, starting with the AV / Firewall
    -Verify that everything’s working

    There’s gonna be a few reboots, obviously

  15. Anonymous

    Using msconfig or even CCleaner to disable startup programs are just temporary solutions. If you use these tools as a permanent fix you may end up with a system so gummed up that your only fix will eventually be to wipe out Windows and start all over. So in my opinion, using msconfig is a very bad idea as any kind of lasting solution. Here are some other reasons why you may want to think twice before using it:

    * Once you uncheck a service in msconfig, you disable it but you haven’t necessarily deleted it.

    * Programs disabled with msconfig may not be uninstalled properly and orphaned entries can still be left behind. (This is my #1 reason for not letting msconfig be used as a permanent fix.)

    * When switching back to normal startup mode in msconfig, the orphan entries can eventually result in boot up errors especially if a program was uninstalled prior to switching back to normal mode.

    * Msconfig does not list all applications loaded in all possible startup locations. Some entry points can still be hidden!

    * Msconfig does not allow the complete removal of all items. The best thing to do is simply uninstall any offending apps if you’re sure you don’t want/need them. You might then use something like CCleaner to delete any remaining orphan registry entries or use other apps to do an even more complete job.

    I don’t know about you, but using a lawn mower to cut paper may work, but it’s still the wrong tool. Msconfig is also a very handy tool for troubleshooting, but it was never meant to be used as a permanent fix either.

  16. Matt
  17. B

    I disabled a few of the “REMOTE…” something or other files for boot-up and now I can’t re-enable them nor can I copy my Wordpad files to a storage device like my thumb drive. So how do I re-enable them because it just won’t work. Something else I disabled has stopped me from making cjhanges to the msconfig(?).

    BTW, I disabled these “Remote…” because I wanted my PC to be secure from the Online Help requests I’d recieved, (I hadn’t requested any help.), I just disabled the wrong ones obviously.

  18. Donald Mitchell

    Hay Dipswitch, good comment.Another good program is win patrol free, it is a real easy program to work with

  19. Bob Z.

    Black Viper’s advice is: •Do not use “msconfig” to disable services, type “services.msc” in the Run box instead . Do not use msconfig to stop services. It basically is “disabling” a service. Use the above procedure and set to “manual” instead for testing purposes.

    If you disabled the wrong items and can’t bootup, try rebooting in Safe Mode and then re-enabling the items.

  20. Mitch Bartlett

    Autoruns is a nice solution to truly manage anything that automatically runs in Windows. It’s provided free by Microsoft.
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902

  21. Ross Anderson

    Hello HTG, the problem is NOT how to disable stuff, the problem is KNOWING what can be disabled and what can’t be. How about an article on that?!

  22. Ron

    I started using Soluto about a week ago and love it. It tells you which programs run at boot, which ones need to then which ones can be delayed until right often boot, and which ones can be paused until you need to use them.
    Besides that it gives the best definition of each program and its purpose. As well as sound recommendations with explanation.
    I’ve used CCleaner, Win Patrol and Msconfig. All with unsurety because I didn’t know or understand a program and its purpose.. Soluto doesn’t just say svchost 7 times, it labels the program it is hosting and takes the mystery out.
    (svchost-localservice)
    (svchost-localserviceandnoimpersonation)
    (svchost-localservicenetworkrestricted)
    (svchost-localservicenonetwork)
    (svchost-netsvcs)
    (svchost-networkservice)
    Compared to other programs I’d give Soluto 125 %.

  23. B

    So, guys? What do I do to be able to fix my problem? Re-install Windows? I can’t enable them because something I disabled is what must be the enabler.(?)

  24. B

    All I need to do is to copy my saved wordpad files to a thumbdrive so I can move them to my new PC.

  25. Jer

    You should check out Microsoft’s FREE advanced system utilities suite – Sysinternals and the “autoruns” utility http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902
    You’ll prefer it over all others, you’ll see! Also I bet you’ll find other utilities within the suite that you will wonder how you could have ever done without — Process Explorer and PortMon, DiskMon etc.

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/

  26. Xeogin

    Autoruns… AUTORUNS AUTORUNS AUTORUNS! I know that’s a little excessive, but come on. It’s simply the best one stop shop for disabling start-up programs. It’s also Microsoft licensed. The next on the list is services.msc for sure, since autoruns can’t set things to manual or delayed, which are usually always better than disabling things. I use blackviper’s website as well, but mostly for switching things back to defaults on PCs users have mucked too much with. Tweaking is great for learning, but you have to know how to properly test things, and remember to test again when upgrading. It’s shocking how many XP tweaks get “imported” into Windows 7 by users and they simply screw things up. The event viewer is your friend. Now… msconfig… it’s an oldie & a goodie, but it’s ALWAYS a temp solution. I’ll always have love for CCleaner, but it’s definitely not made for startup clean-up, they just threw in a simplified msconfig. Soluto is also a funny one. It’s good for figuring things out, but if you’ve messed with any of the above, it just adds confusion. It’s definitely the solution for end-users, but not techies. Once Soluto disables & delays things the proper way, it’ll be amazing. Sorry for the long rant of a post, maybe someone else will take it apart properly…

  27. Jakks

    I’m using Ccleaning and i would like to use Soluto as well…..

  28. Jakks

    I’m using Ccleaner and i would like to use Soluto as well…..

  29. maybhelpful

    to B,,, try a safemode rescue! ,, as you reboot pc, press f8 or the Del key on keyboard continuously,, when the safe mode options come up, choose the top one,, and try either system restore, or last known good config, that might get you back onto pc :)

    last resort, put in your installation disk, and run a repair install,, theres bound to be instructions around on htg for this
    good luck

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