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Software Review 2: Sysinternal's autoruns - stop applications from loading with Windows

Autoruns is a piece of software which gives pc users the ultimate control to choose which applications will start with windows. It can be downloaded as a single application or part of a suite called SysinternalsSuite, together with other useful applications. You can search the web for this software and download it for free.

What can it do? Well, to begin with, this will give users ultimate control to choose which applications will start with windows. Say Yahoo! Messenger, once YM has been installed in a pc, every that pc starts, the smiley-like icon near the clock (system tray) will appear even if internet connection is not available. So what, if I can stop these applications from running with windows? For starters, you don't want applications to load when you start windows because this will cause your pc to take more time to load. The more icons in the system tray, the more applications are loading with windows which means the more time it will take to load these applications, which will eventually translate to a slow pc. If you want to make your pc run faster, then I would suggest you stop non-essential applications from starting with windows. You can do this by using autoruns. Other than this, you can also use autoruns to hunt for viruses. I have outlined a complete method of scviihost.exe removal because of autoruns and I have solved most virus infections to pc's which are brought to me with the aid of autoruns.

How to use autoruns? The first time novice users open autoruns maybe quite intimidating. Users will be presented with the complete list of applications, dll's and even scheduled tasks which load with the pc's start-up process.


Of all the options that has been presented, which are safe to play with? For first time users, I would suggest to stick to the sections mentioned below:

  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run. This section lists applications that are not mission critical to your pc's operation. Here you will find, those applications that will run when you start windows. This is true for all user accounts in your XP machine.
  • C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. Here you will have the control to stop those applications that you can see in Startup when you click start-All Programs-Startup.
  • C:\Documents and Settings\[Current User]\Start Menu\Programs\Startup. This is similar to the option above but this time, this applications will only run on the interface of the current user, other user accounts may or may not have the same applications listed in here.
  • HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run. Same with the first section but the applications that are listed in here will load only for the current user.

Generally speaking, all these applications will load with windows when it starts. The difference is that these applications are being called to load with windows from different registry points. The thing is, most - if not all, of these applications can be safely disabled from loading with windows, thus making your computer's load time shorter. And because these applications have been stopped from loading with windows, then, your pc's resources will be available for other processes.

So, how will you disable applications from running with windows? This part is very easy. Notice that for every application in the list, a checkbox is placed before each icon. The checkbox is used to select which application/s are permitted to load with windows. Say, you want Yahoo! Messenger not to load with windows, you can uncheck the checkbox for Yahoo! Messenger. And during your next reboot, you will not see that gray smiley in your system tray.

I dont' want to use autoruns to disable applications from loading with windows, is there another way? Yes there is, but this can be quite annoying. Windows offers msconfig to do this. To access the list of applications which loads with windows, click start then Run, type msconfig. Select the Startup tab. There you can find the list of applications that will load with windows. Same with autoruns, you can check or uncheck each application in the list. The difference with msconfig and autoruns is that, for me, autoruns gives the best functionality with the least nag screen. LoL =D

NOTE: When you use autoruns, changes will take effect once your pc has been restarted. And to be safe, the first three entries in the autoruns list must remain checked, or else, you will forever regret why you have played with it in the first place.


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