Community Newsletter: Q&A forum: 9/10/04 Safely getting rid of those Windows msconfig start-up programs

by: Lee Koo (ADMIN) September 9, 2004 11:46 AM PDT

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9/10/04 Safely getting rid of those Windows msconfig start-up programs

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) ModeratorCNET staff - 9/9/04 11:46 AM

Thank you Lucien and all the participants in this past weeks question! Make sure you all check out the honorable mention and the reference websites and utility recommendations by our members following this post. I encourage all of you who have more tips or questions on this topic to post below. This way we can all learn more together.

Thanks again everyone!
-Lee Koo
CNET Community

(WARNING: Some of this week's honorable mentions may suggest the task of editing your Windows registry, MAKE SURE back up your registry in case you do something wrong and also be that you are familiar with files you are planning to delete. You don't want to delete a file that is critical to your system; that can really wreak havoc in your computer. So be cautious and know what you are deleting before proceeding! Delete files and edit the Windows registry at your own risk. Thank you.)


Question:

I have a lot of things listed in Windows start-up through Msconfig. Is there a way to safely delete things other than going to Web sites and going through the long, agonizing search process? What would you recommend?

Submitted by: Nikki K.


Answer:

You must be careful when working in here because the start-up area is where Windows places certain drivers and other items that it needs to work properly. It is not necessarily a bad thing to see many items here, but it is worth examining the list for things that could be removed. This is also where certain pieces of other applications are loaded, and although these items may not be essential to the operation of the system (or even to that program), they have been placed here for a reason, and removing them by hand could cause unexpected behavior in your system. For example, all (or nearly all) of the icons in your system tray (near the clock) are there because of entries in the start-up settings. You are correct that the only safe way to remove items by hand from here is to research each one to learn what it does and whether it needs to be here, but as this is not an option for you, here is what I suggest.

First, install a good antivirus program, if you have not already. Virus programs also use this area to ensure that they are running when the system is up. Scan the entire system and be sure it is clean. Next, install an adware/spyware removal tool, such as Ad-aware or Spybot Search and Destroy, to ensure that no other undesirable software is being loaded automatically. Again, scan the entire system and resolve all problems before moving on to the next step.

Open the Control Panel and double-click "Add or remove programs." Work your way through the list carefully, removing any items that you no longer use. Do not remove something simply because you don't recognize it; some office suites and antivirus programs install multiple components that show up as separate entries in this list. You should be free of pop-up loaders and other adware programs at this point, but many of them will place entries here, so watch for words such as buy, search, and helper in items that you can't remember installing yourself.

Finally, examine the icons in your system tray and check the settings for items that you use rarely or not at all. For example, both RealPlayer and QuickTime multimedia programs load components here that enable their respective players to start more quickly (and to check for updates) when they are launched, but if you rarely use them or need a little more performance from your system at other times, you can turn them off here. Instant-messenger programs load here, but so do some printer and antivirus control panels, so do not simply turn everything off.

If you run msconfig now, you should see fewer items in the start-up area, but it is unlikely that it will be empty. However, you can have some assurance now that anything that is here is here for a good reason, an you probably want it to stay. Certainly, there could be extraneous or undesirable entries remaining, but these can be removed by hand only after some informed research, so we have done as much as possible without going to that extra effort.

Submitted by: Lucien J. of Crumpton, Maryland. USA

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