Software Recommendations Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people seeking specific software recommendations. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Looking for a program to manage which applications are started up when Windows PC starts.

Requirements:

  • Free (gratis)
  • "Manage" means ability to permanently remove any given set of programs from being autostarted
  • Comprehensive. Understands "Startup" folders in various user directories' Start menu, and a FULL gamut of "autostart" places in Registry (I know of at least 4 off the top of my head on XP).
  • MUST work on Windows XP
  • Ideally, should also work on Windows 8 (don't care about 7 much) - I'm perfectly fine if I need to download 2 separate versions of the same program one for each OS version.
  • Strongly preferred: Tell me exactly WHICH of the multiple startup options a given autostarted program originates in, before I disable it.
share|improve this question
1  
Task manager does almost all of this on Win 8 already. – 3ventic Mar 9 '14 at 10:39
3  
@3ventic "MUST work on Windows XP" – user11153 Mar 10 '14 at 10:16
    
@user11153 which is why it's a comment. – 3ventic Mar 10 '14 at 11:13

MSconfig can do 4/6 things you asked and is built in. Simply press WinKeyR to open the run window and type msconfig. This works on all versions of windows and in Windows 8, this can be found in the Startup tab of the task manager.


For a fully featured tool however, Autoruns fulfills all your requirements. It is free and portable. I've used it for a while and it has no cons except it might appear overly complicated being feature rich but you wouldn't need anything more than what's shown under the Logon tab.

enter image description here

  • Has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor
  • Shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login
  • Shows you the entries in the order Windows processes them etc
  • Works on all versions of windows
  • *Tells you which of the multiple startup options a given autostarted program originates in
share|improve this answer
1  
"Can do 4/6 things you asked and is built in" - which of the 4 can it do? – Casebash Mar 14 '14 at 23:48
2  
@Casebash Numbering OP's list, 2, 3, 4 and 5. – iKlsR Mar 15 '14 at 0:04
    
@iKlsR, Are you sure AutoRuns has no cons? It looks so complex and hard to navigate and understand. There's even a book just to know how to use this thing. – Pacerier Jun 9 '15 at 9:55
    
@Pacerier I might have been assuming everyone here is technical. But as OP asked, it should be fairly intuitive IMO, you open, find Logon and untick the applications you don't want. – iKlsR Jun 9 '15 at 13:41
    
@iKlsR, Why are there 15 tabs and what do the tabs mean? – Pacerier Jun 9 '15 at 17:40

I have always like SpyBot Search&Destroy's startup manager. I haven't used the new non-free SpyBot but version 1.6 works with Windows 2000 - 8 and is still fully functional.

  • Yes Version 1.6x - there is a new non-free version but 1.6x works fine.
  • Yes You can permanently delete or checklist disable/enable.
  • Yes As far as I know it covers all startup locations (ie it does all the ones I know of) for non-service programs.
  • Yes Fine with Windows 8 all the way down to Windows 2000
  • Yes

The feature I really really like is that SpyBot S&D can take a snapshot and then when you load that all changes will be highlighted so you can quickly see changes.

Another nice feature is that there is an insert button that will create a new startup entry (computer or user specific and choose type of program - service, regular or autostart group). You can also export the startup list as a text file.

Screenshot

share|improve this answer

I use Piriform CCleaner, along with being a utility app to clean your PC, it has a Startup section in the Tools panel.

  • Free (gratis)
  • Ability to permanently remove any given set of programs from being autostarted
  • Comprehensive (registry, startup user, startup common, etc.). Not sure if it covers all startup place though, but most of it for sure.
  • Works on Windows 8.1, 8, 7, Vista and XP.
  • Tell me exactly which of the multiple startup options a given autostarted program originates in, before I disable it.

enter image description here

More info: http://www.piriform.com/docs/ccleaner/using-ccleaner/managing-auto-starting-programs

share|improve this answer

I've been using Startup Control which has tabs for each of Startup (user), Startup (common), HKLM / Run, HKCU / Run and Run Once.

  • Free (gratis). Yes.

  • "Manage" means ability to permanently remove any given set of programs from being autostarted. Yes. Each program has its own check-box to either disable it or delete it.

  • Comprehensive. Understands "Startup" folders in various user directories' Start menu, and a FULL gamut of "autostart" places in Registry (I know of at least 4 off the top of my head on XP). Yes - using the tabs Startup (user), Startup (common), HKLM / Run, HKCU / Run and Run Once.

  • MUST work on Windows XP. Ideally, should also work on Windows 8 (don't care about 7 much) . XP yes. Have not tried Win8

  • Strongly preferred: Tell me exactly WHICH of the multiple startup options a given autostarted program originates in, before I disable it. Yes - using the tabs.

Pros: * Tiny 76 KB footprint, and loads almost instantly. Keeps a basic history, by moving items to the deleted tab. * Has some other context-sensitive options as you can see in the screenshot, where I right-clicked.

Cons: No longer supported, and has to be downloaded from web.archive.org

Screenshot of Startup Manager, showing right-click options

share|improve this answer

Soluto

Soluto claims to be "anti-frustration software". It lets you see the time each application takes on boot, then for each choose whether to keep it in boot, remove it, or delay it (e.g. if you don't need your Dropbox sync to be up immediately, you can delay it so that your boot will be faster and Dropbox will still be started automatically later). You can also see the choices of other users around the world.

Notes and implications:

  • The interface is now fully web, so you need your data to be sent to their servers. This might be a problem if you are concerned with privacy (the time when it fully ran on your machine is unfortunately over).
  • Soluto needs an agent to be running on your computer (if only to start delayed programs). That one you won't be able to remove from boot (or you'll most features that make Soluto an interesting solution).

I am aware this solution will not please everybody and I guess the other answers would make most people happy (I am thinking of removing it myself for one of those; I already use CCleaner in conjunction). For the sake of exhaustivity, though, and to leave you with a choice…

Requirements:

  • Free (gratis): not fully-featured and for a limited number of devices (5 if I remember correctly), but yes.
  • "Manage" means ability to permanently remove any given set of programs from being autostarted: as for any software of this type, yes until the program is updated and updates the registry again.
  • Comprehensive: yes. Anything that is loaded on boot appears here.
  • MUST work on Windows XP: it's been a while since I don't have an XP. I don't find the info on the website, but in my memories, it only needed a sufficient version of the .NET framework to run. Works on 7 and 8 for sure.
  • Strongly preferred: Tell me exactly WHICH of the multiple startup options a given autostarted program originates in, before I disable it: I think that's a no here, but I cannot access it right now to check.

+

Since everything is managed in a webapp, if you feel like a good soul, you can also manage your parents' or your boy/girlfriend's computer.

share|improve this answer

I have used StartUp Delayer to manage this under XP. As the name says, it is essentially for delaying applications from starting up as soon as you log into your computer, but it also lets you disable startup programs.

enter image description here

I don't remember if it meets your 6th requirement tell me which of the multiple startup options a given autostarted program originates in

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.