Tech Tuesdays: Spring Cleaning for your PC Part 2 - Optimizing Windows Start-up

By Mike Robinson

When Windows boots up, it loads a number of programs automatically.  This is done to speed up the individual program, but it can have a negative effect overall of slowing down your entire system. Over time, as you install more programs the list of these programs grows.

The key to Windows starting quickly is to reduce the number of unnecessary start-up programs by disabling them. 

If you use Windows XP:

Use the following steps to disable the unwanted programs at start-up:

  1. Click on Start->Run

  2. Type "msconfig" and click OK. (This will bring up the Microsoft System Configuration Utility.)

  3. In the System Configuration Utility, Click the tab called Start-up.

  4. You can uncheck any programs that you do not want running when windows starts.

  5. Once you are done unchecking programs, Click Okay. You will be prompted to restart your computer at this point.

For Windows Vista / Windows 7 

  1. Open up msconfig (use Vista Start Menu's Instant Search feature: just press the Windows key and type 'System' and the hit return).

  2. Click the Startup tab.

  3. Now you can uncheck any programs that you do not want running at Windows Vista startup and click OK.

To disable auto-start applications with Windows Defender:

  1. Open up Windows Defender.

  2. Click on "Tools" in the top menu bar.

  3. Click on "Software Explorer".

  4. Hit "Show for All Users".

  5. Select an application and then click either Remove or Disable.

Some examples of programs that are safe to disable:

  • AOLLaunch - Associated with AOL instant messenger

  • DVDLauncher - A process belonging to the Cyberlink PowerCinema video viewing software which allows you to play DVDs on insertion

  • EHTray - A process is the tray bar process for the Microsoft Media Center

  • AOLSoftware - A process that is associated with AOL instant messenger

  • ISUSPM - A process that belongs InstallShield from Macrovision. The process automatically checks for the latest updates online.

  • iTunesHelper - A process belonging to iTunes MP3 streaming tool by Apple, which allows you to play MP3's. This process speeds up iTunes when it starts, and the program also monitors for connected iPod devices.

  • Mimboot.exe - A process associated with eMusicmatch Jukebox. The process makes sure that Musicmatch is launched when starting up the system.

  • Msmsgs - Associated with Windows Messenger

  • RealPlay - Associated with Real Player

  • Steam - This is a gaming interface. No need for it to always start up.

  • YMETray - Associated with Yahoo Music

  • GoogleDesktop - If you don't want google desktop to startup, you can disable this.

The more programs you diable the faster your system will be at startup.

TIP: Use Google and search for program names you see running to determine whether or not it is safe to disable them

Next time - Part 3 Defragging and Hard Drive optimization

Mike Robinson is a Purchasing Manager specializing in Computer Hardware for Staples Canada.

Performing the steps in this post does not actually remove the program from your system. The program can still be launched in the normal way. If you are uncomfortable trying the optimization process, you can take your computer to any STAPLES  location where one of our in-store STAPLES easytech technicians can help you.

By Adam

March 16, 2010