How to manage and recognize with autoruns which programs and services start with the operating system

Every time you boot up the computer of a friend, or customer, who has asked you for help, you will “complain” about the interminable wait before you can operate normally. Windows, at each startup, loads a series of programs and services that serve the normal operation of the operating system, many are mandatory and indispensable, but some of these we can easily do without. How do you decide which ones you can do without? Experience, help with Google and a good forum where you can ask for help. Let’s see how Autoruns works, which allows us to see a lot of information about these programs.

A first skimming of the programs and services running automatically can be done directly from the operating system. In Microsoft operating systems prior to Windows 8 it was the msconfig command that allowed you to manage programs and services, now everything has been moved to Task Manager. From the Startup tab we can enable/disable programs that run automatically.

While in Services you can see all the services and their status. To change the status of the operating system services we have to select Open Services instead.

Autoruns

What we have seen so far, however, is very limited in its possibilities and in the collection of information about a program or a service. If we want to know something more, indeed much more, about our operating system and the programs/services running automatically we can use Autoruns which is a portable program much more complete.

  • At first startup it will ask you to accept the terms of the license.
  • From here you can find details about everything that is loaded at startup of the operating system, but not only that, Scheduled Tasks, Internet Explorer and Office add-ons, drivers, services and much more.
  • You can also delete them, disable them and do some research on the Internet and VirusTotal (which in the computers where I’ve tried don’t start) to try to figure out what it is.
  • You can take advantage of this to clean up and remove items that you do not need or are left over from previous installations.
  • You have to run Autoruns as administrator to remove some entries.
  • For each known entry there are details about the file path and its function, if you don’t need it just uncheck the flag from its box to disable it.
  • Once you are sure that there are no problems, you can eventually remove it permanently.
  • Some lines will be colored differently, in yellow are the missing files, perhaps the result of previous installations and incomplete removal from the configuration registry.

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