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Clean-Up the Start-Up
Disabling Startup Items and

Disabling Windows XP Startup Programs

What is a Startup Item?

Start up items are programs that startup automatically when windows boots up.  There are never any startup items that are critical to the operation of the PC, however some programs like anti virus may not work properly or cause an errors if they are disabled.  You may also have difficulties getting online if you disable any of your Internet Service Provider's software.  All of these problems can be fixed by re-enabling the startup item you disabled, or re-installing the software.

Some other examples of startup items would be things like MSN messenger, ICQ, weather monitoring software, or a media program such as quick time or real player.

Why would I want to disable startup items?

There are two main reasons why you would want disable startup items:

  1. To increase the operational performance of your PC while decreasing the time it takes to startup
  2. To disable or prevent viruses, malware, spyware and other unwanted software from loading.

Just like services, disabling startup items free up valuable resources towards the use of legitimate and useful programs and applications.

How do I disable non-essential startup items?

If you are not already in safemode, please go back to the section that describes how to do this before continuing.  It can be found here.

It is important that you perform these procedures in safe mode as it will ensure startup items stay disabled once you reboot. 

Some types of viruses and malware monitor when they are attempted to be disabled.  By booting to safe mode, you are ensuring the malware and viruses do not become active and prevent you from effectively disabling them.

Opening the system configuration utility


Open the System Configuration Utility

You may already have the System Configuration Utility opened.  If you don't, just follow step 1 and 2.


Open the System Configuration Utility

Click Start > Run.  Type in msconfig without the quotes.

Click Start > Run.  Type in msconfig without the quotes.

Type in MSconfig


Click on the Startup tab

Click on the tab called Startup.  Make sure the window you are looking at looks similar to the picture below.  Do not worry if you have different items in the Startup Items column than portrayed below as you most certainly do not have an identical PC to me.

Click the startup tab

What Startup Items do I disable?

Once again, I am going to put a two scenarios in front of you so you can choose what you feel best describes the current state of your computer.

Scenario 1 – “The Super Clean”
If you have many pop-ups, your computer runs slow, you have error messages and you have just about had it with you PC, you may want to choose this option.  This option can create a lot more work for you in the end, but it almost always guarantees a very clean system when you are through

Scenario 2 – “The Selective Clean”
If your system has been running fairly well, and you do not suspect spyware, malware or viruses choose this option.  It will be faster than “The Super Clean”, but may be difficult to choose what services you want to disable.

“The Super Clean”

If you have chosen to do a “The Super Clean”, there are a few critical things you must understand before proceeding further:

Warning!

The Super Clean is a full fledge disabling of ALL startup items.  When you disable all startup items you will suffer the following consequences and will need to take appropriate action on the reboot to rectify these situations:

  1. On the next reboot to normal mode, you may see error messages that state your Anti-virus is corrupt, disabled, or non-functional.  These problems will be rectified by re-installing your anti-virus software, or re-enabling the services that you disabled.
    You may also see similar problems with any other type of security suite you may have installed.  If you have a software firewall installed you may not be able to get online until you re-enable the startup items you de-selected, or reinstall the firewall.  The windows firewall is not affected by this step.
  2. You may lose the ability to connect to the internet.  You will need to reinstall all software provided to you by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) in order to get back online.  Most users on cable internet will not have to worry about this problem.  Some dialup and ADSL users may find that after performing a super clean the software that helps you connect to the Internet has been disabled.  These problems will be rectified by re-installing your ISP’s software, or re-enabling the services that you disabled.
  3. Some other applications require special startup items to run in order to operate properly.  The problems with this software will be rectified by re-installing your applications, or re-enabling the services that you disabled.

 

Disabling Startup Items (See image below steps for reference):

  1. Once again, the best part of the super clean is that it is SIMPLE.  Click the disable all button in the bottom right hand corner of the services tab in the System Configuration Utility.
  2. Click “Apply”
  3. The "OK" button should now say "Close".  Before clicking close you must make sure your system is configured properly to boot back up into normal mode - please go to "Make sure you are configured to boot to normal mode" section by clicking here to make sure you are configured properly.

Click "Disable All" in the startup tab

 

“The Selective Clean”

If you have chosen to perform a selective clean you will only be disabling certain startup items.  Please read the warning section of the super clean as disabling certain services when doing a selective clean may cause problems with certain functionality of the computer on the next reboot.

Selectively Disabling Startup Items:

  1. The key to disabling non-important startup items lies in the "Command" column.  You will need to expand the column out so that you can read all of the text, and look for keywords.  You DO NOT want to disable any software that you recognize, so follow the example below to determine how this is done.
    EXAMPLE:  You may have installed Norton Anti-virus by Symantec Corp at one point.  Look for words that refer to "Norton" or "Symantec".  You may also use AOL, so you will want to look for items that say "AOL".
  2. Once you have identified the startup items you DO NOT want to disable, proceed with un-checking the startup items in the “Startup Item” column that you want to disable.
  3. Once you are satisfied with the services you have chosen to disable, click the “Apply” button.
  4. The "OK" button should now say "Close".  Before clicking close you must make sure your system is configured properly to boot back up into normal mode - please go to "Make sure you are configured to boot to normal mode" section by clicking here to make sure you are configured properly.

Configure your PC to Boot to Normal Mode

As you may recall in part 3, step 3, we configured your system to boot up into Safe Mode by using the "System Configuration Utility".  If we do not change this setting before we reboot, your computer will start back up into safemode. 

If you used the "F8 method" as also described in part 3 step 3, you do not need to follow this step, your computer will reboot to normal mode automatically.  Before you reboot, first read this warning otherwise everything you have done may need to be done again by one simple click of a button.

If you used the "System Configuration Utility" to configure your computer to start into safemode, follow these steps and then read the warning:

When you are finished working in safemode, follow these instructions:


Open the System Configuration Utility

Click Start > Run.  Type in msconfig.  Click OK.


Open the System Configuration Utility

Click Start > Run.  Type in msconfig.  Click OK


Configure boot options

Click on the boot.ini tab and UNCHECK the checkmark next to safeboot.  Click Apply.  Click Close.

No boot options should be checked in the BOOT.ini tab in the system configuration utility


Read warning!!

WARNING!

When you click the Close button in the System Configuration Utility, you will be prompted to either Restart, or Exit Without Restart

Click restart, but read on first!

You will want to choose Restart, but before you do, please read the following

On the reboot, you will see a box that tells you that You have used the System Configuration Utility to make changes to the way windows starts

YOU MUST CHECK THE BOX next to Don't show this message or launch the System Configuration Utility when windows starts

YOU MUST CHECK THE BOX next to Don't show this message or launch the System Configuration Utility when windows starts.  Failing to do so may automatically re-enable every item that you had disabled in the previous steps.

Once the box has been checked, click ok and your PC should restart.

As mentioned previously, you may have errors or problems with certain programs on the reboot.  Usually the easiest way to fix these problems is to reinstall the software the error messages refer to, but another method would be to follow through the process you just went through and re-enable the startup item or service you had disabled.

You should already notice a vast improvement in your system performance already.

The final steps involve downloading and installing free programs that are detailed in the next section, understanding where and why you get infected and other resources that are available to you to help with your computer issues.