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What are true differences between the two?

Both serve the same purpose: to run a program on windows startup.

The obvious differences are:

  • User can easily manage Startup Folder
  • Run registry seems to run programs earlier when computer is started.

I don't think this is enough to justify both. What am I missing?

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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You are missing nothing. The startup folder is for the user to manage, while the registry one should contain things which shouldn't be directly managed by the unexperienced user. For example programs that extend hardware drivers (for example the Catalyst Suite for ATI Cards)... Theres no other difference other than what you have noted already.

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This seems to be abused a lot. –  Kugel Jun 21 '11 at 13:21
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A lot of it is exactly what you said. The Start menu is designed to start shortcuts of programs when you log in for convenience (user-level), whereas the Run registry is to start programs that are meant to run no matter what (even if you don't want them to) (system-level).

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The mainly diference I see is that a startup program set on registry will starts with system, before the desktop be able to user; if you set on startup folder it will starts when the user logon after destop be usable to user.

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