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One of the most frustrating aspects of Windows is that many applications such as Adobe Acrobat, iTunes, and Spotify start automatically when you log into Windows, whether you need them or not.
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You’ll want certain types of programs to start automatically, such as antivirus and webcam software. However, many applications interfere too much with your startup routine, chewing up memory and resources and potentially slowing down your computer’s performance. Don’t worry though, you can answer.
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Windows has long offered a way to view and disable your startup programs. Those using older versions of Windows may remember to open the System Configuration tool (msconfig) to view and disable any programs you want to automatically load. In Windows 10 and Windows 11, you go to the Settings screen or Task Manager instead. Here’s how to deal with unwanted apps.
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Go to Settings > Applications > Startup to see a list of all apps that can start automatically and decide which ones to disable. You can sort the list by name, status, or launch influence. A switch next to each app indicates an on or off status to indicate whether that app is currently in your launch routine. To disable an app, turn off its switch.
Below the switch is an impact indicator. An application can be flagged with four different impact indicators: no impact, low impact, medium impact or high impact. These indicators measure the impact of the startup program on your computer’s processor and disk during startup.
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The higher the impact score, the longer the program takes to load, thus increasing the time it takes for Windows to fully boot. An application whose status has not been measured means that its impact has not yet been determined.
When checking which apps to skip from your startup routine, look for high- and medium-ranked apps, as disabling them will have the biggest impact on system speed-up at startup. Disabling those rated as low or no impact will have little or no impact on your runtime, but disabling them can free up valuable RAM.
Checking your startup apps through Task Manager allows you to more easily examine each one to better gauge whether or not to disable them.
In the Task Manager window, click the Startup tab (you may need to click other details first). You will see a list of all the applications that start automatically when Windows starts. Some programs you may recognize are; Others may be unknown. The challenge here is to approach those who don’t need to start a startup, but don’t worry about those who do.
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By default, the list should be sorted by name, but you can click on any heading to sort the list by software publisher, launch status, and launch impact. To remove an app from the launch sequence, right-click it and select Disable. Any disabled will be labeled in the status column.
Your safest bet is to shut down one application at a time, restart your computer, and then make sure you and Windows can live without the program running while it’s running. If you run into any problems with a disabled program, go back to the settings screen or task manager and welcome it to your startup routine.
If you cannot identify a particular program by its name or publisher, right-click on it and select Properties. This opens the file’s properties window, which can reveal more details about it, including a description and version number. If you’re not sure whether you want to disable a particular app from running at startup, right-click it and select Search Online.
Windows will perform a Bing search in your browser for this program. You can then review the results to find information and advice on whether to block the program from running. The ultimate goal should be to use the Startup Impact Status along with the information you find through web searches to choose the right apps to disable.
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If you feel that Windows’ built-in startup manager isn’t powerful or efficient enough, you can dig into even more startup items to check with the help of various third-party applications.
AutoRuns (opens in new window) is a free option for power users that shows you startup apps, browser extensions, scheduled tasks, services, drivers, and more. Searching through a large number of items can be confusing and intimidating at first; You don’t want to disable an important and important app or other component. However, if you understand all or most of the entries listed, AutoRuns is a powerful and useful startup manager.
Free Launcher (opens in new window) utility will detect all startup programs, processes and services. You can view all items or limit the list by folder location or registry entry. Before you try to disable an item, you can change its settings to control how and when it activates. You can run the launcher directly from the launcher to see what it does. Starter also allows you to change the appearance, layout and features of the program.
The free version of Startup Delayer (opens in a new window) offers a common startup management technique. The startup delay starts by showing all your startup items, as well as any running tasks and services. Right-click any item to view its properties, run it to see what it does, search Google or Process Library (opens in new window) for more information, disable or postpone.
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If you decide to delay a program, you can control how long it waits to start to avoid loading too many applications at once. By upgrading to the paid version, you get the ability to schedule exactly when to open specific apps.
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I have been working since the beginning of 2016, writing tutorials, articles and other articles about consumer technology. In addition, I have written news stories and tutorials for various websites and publications, including CNET, ZDNet, TechRepublic, Macworld, Popular Science, Time, Fortune, US News & World Report, and AARP Magazine. I spent seven years writing news for CNET as one of the site’s East Coast correspondents. I also wrote two books for Wiley & Sons — protecting users from malicious downloads using the Windows 10 SmartScreen feature. Windows Defender SmartScreen uses reputation-based protection to protect users against phishing and malware websites and apps and potentially malicious files.
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SmartScreen has two mechanisms to protect users. First, it analyzes web pages for suspicious behavior. Second, sites and applications are checked against a constantly updated list of threat sites. If a website is considered suspicious or is on Microsoft’s list, SmartScreen displays a warning that the page may not be safe.
Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are not viruses or malware. Microsoft defines PUAs as other types of threats that affect the performance and usability of Windows; or has a bad reputation. Examples of PUAs include software that contains advertising, bundled application installers to install other software that is not signed with the same certificate as the downloaded file, and applications designed to circumvent security software.
Users with Windows 10 May 2020 Update or later can turn on PUA protection in the Windows Security app.
If you are using the newer Edge browser, enabling PUA block downloads in Windows Security in the browser settings will enable PUA protection, which can be found here: edge://settings/privacy
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If you’re using an earlier version of Windows 10, PUA protection can be enabled using Group Policy. All you have to do is configure the detection of potentially unwanted applications settings in Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Windows Defender Antivirus.