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Speed up your Windows system by reducing or eliminating auto-starting applications

This page is part of a 7-part story, 7 things you can do to make Windows 7 (and other versions) easier to use.

Applies to: All
Why? Because you grow weary of waiting for your Windows system to be ready to use.
How? Eliminate some of those notification area icons. Uninstall those programs you never use.

Helpful utilities and information

  • Sysinternals Autoruns
  • MSConfig is included with all windows versions. Not as powerful but still useful when looking for stuff that is set to run at every system boot-up.

The Usual Suspects

Look for and disable: Java Updater/Java Update Scheduler, QuickTime Task, Acrobat/Adobe Speed Launcher, and similar items.

Why? Because these probably aren't doing you much good, and having them loaded every time you start your computer is just silly. You can check for software updates yourself, and do you really worry about how fast Adobe Acrobat loads the first time it's used? (Adobe Speed Launcher's sole purpose is to shorten the time it takes to run Adobe Reader—while this may sound like a good thing, what they aren't telling you is that it does this by keeping Reader components resident at all times, thus providing faster access to Reader documents—if that's what you want, fine, but most people don't need it.)

You should review the list of installed software, and uninstall those applications you never (or rarely) use. Many applications install 'helper' components or drivers that are loaded into memory every time you start your computer. "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch"—meaning, in this case, that you may be paying a heavy toll every time you start your computer if you haven't kept it 'clean'.

And, if your computer is short on physical RAM (memory), the auto-starting programs may trigger thrashing which will slow your computer to a crawl.

More information

Restore Your Computer's Performance with Windows XP–A bit dated but comprehensive look at cleaning up a Windows XP system, including removing autostarting applications using an older version of AutoRuns.

Other things to help speed up your Windows system

Thanks for the tips. I also think that it may be useful to perform some basic routing maintenance on your computer every now and then. Some examples include removing unused applications, defragmenting your hard drive and probably the most important, clean up the Windows registry.