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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.
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Task manager does almost all of this on Win 8 already. –  3ventic Mar 9 at 10:39
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@3ventic "MUST work on Windows XP" –  user11153 Mar 10 at 10:16
    
@user11153 which is why it's a comment. –  3ventic Mar 10 at 11:13
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4 Answers 4

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.

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
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"Can do 4/6 things you asked and is built in" - which of the 4 can it do? –  Casebash Mar 14 at 23:48
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@Casebash Numbering OP's list, 2, 3, 4 and 5. –  iKlsR Mar 15 at 0:04
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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

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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

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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

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