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I'm not an expert. In Windows' service manager there are 290 entries for various programs I have installed and many of them auto start at Windows login.

Which of those are most important to be left unchanged? I have used CCleaner to block some of those from running at startup but still my Windows is taking 1-2 minutes to boot.

How can I find out which are actually important?

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The simple answer: buy an SSD, this is the simplest and most effective way of decreasing your boot time without running into troubles. – Robert Aug 30 '12 at 11:58
If you open up MSCONFIG, how many programs are set to run on start up. You may also need to tell us your OS and computer spec. – Dave Aug 30 '12 at 12:07

Try looking at Soluto. It analyzes your boot process and makes recommendations about certain services. It also lets you look at your boot process, and see which service(s) are taking the most time, and it shows data about what other users have done with that service (in boot, pause, or removal).

enter image description here

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Soluto is indeed probably the easiest program for such task. It will give hints, explain what the different programs are (when it's quite common), and allow you to disable or delay the launch of some of them. – Gnoupi Aug 30 '12 at 13:30

I don't think so because everything is very case by case - for example, I always disable 90% of programs which run at start up because if I want to use the program, I will load it when I run it! :) So it's much based upon what each user wants.

However, your question makes me wonder if you mean services or applications? I would assume both.

If you know what applications don't need to load then try to remove all OTHER THAN the anti virus and any programs you don't know or understand. For example, anything with Adobe can be safely removed from start up IMO. This can be done via MSCONFIG or via CCleaner.

Services are more tricky as some are dependent on others.

I would make sure your AV doesn't do a scan on boot but instead delays slightly or (and again, it depends on what type of user you are) disable the boot up scan. I don't do any downloading really so my AV runs a scan during the night - this made a big impact on boot up time.

You may also want to see if any programs run at start time in your scheduled tasks.

Also view the defaults here as to what is required or not: (please note, I did try to copy a picture in but the image was too small)

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This may or may not apply to you, but as a useful feature of windows 8, when you open the task manager and go to the startup tab, it will list programs that are set to start up, and their startup impact. You can enable or disable the programs from the tab.

enter image description here

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I use two tools for this. Microsoft's Sysinternals tools with procmon and procexp, followed by Process Hacker. Hope this helps.

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Please add links and maybe an explanation of what these tools do. – terdon Sep 25 '12 at 17:03

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