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What is the best software for managing startup applications in Windows apart from msconfig.exe?

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should be CW, as there are many excellent alternatives rather than a definite answer to your question. –  Molly7244 Dec 11 '09 at 1:36
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closed as off topic by Dennis, Dave M, CharlieRB, TFM, Tog Feb 5 '13 at 14:35

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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Sysinternal's Autoruns all the way for me.

Autoruns is freeware and portable (does not require installation).

Up to Windows XP, Mike Lin's Startup Control Panel is a neat alternative (easily add programs to HKLM\Run).

Startup Control Panel is freeware and portable (does not require installation).

for those who need many programs to be loaded st the system start, Startup Delayer is a viable option. the program allows you to configure which programs to start first and which ones to delay when your computer is rebooted. You can set a custom delay for each one, even drag the visual display graph which shows you exactly how your programs are starting and allows you to easily modify the order or adjust delay times.

Startup Delayer is freeware.

p.s.: i'll have to second Moshe here, Msconfig is not really a startup manager but a troubleshooting utility and therefore best left alone.

Edit: Why you should not be using MSconfig to control startups:

Many people frequently use MSconfig as a long term solution to control startup processes and services. You will also see many websites condoning use of MSconfig and teaching you how to use it for controlling startups. This is a very bad idea for many reasons.

1. MSconfig was designed to be used only as a temporary debugging/troubleshooting tool. It was not meant to be used for long term solutions.

2. MSconfig does not show all startups anyway.

3. If you uninstall programs while they are being disabled with MSconfig, they will not be uninstall properly and you will have to resort to manual registry editing to properly get everything removed. MSconfig will leave orphan entries if/when installed software is uninstalled while under the control of MSconfig . When/if MSconfig is turned back to normal startup, it will give errors on boot due to those orphan entries.

4. MSconfig and Services:

If you uninstall programs while you have some of the programs services being controlled with MSconfig, the programs will not be uninstall properly and you will have to resort to manual registry editing to get everything properly removed.

When you uncheck a service in msconfig, you completely disable it. If you uncheck the wrong one, you may not be able to restart your computer.

It is safer to control services by using Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Services (this runs services.msc).

5. You can lock malware items into your registry that you may not see anymore until some point in time where you switch back to Normal Startup mode and now you can cause total reinfection of your PC with the malware. You need to remove the malware not mask it.

If you still don't understand why not to use MSconfig, see what Microsoft writes here, the key point is stated as such:

The System Configuration utility helps you find problems with your Windows XP configuration. It does not manage the programs that run when Windows starts.


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Been wondering for a while about MSConfig. Of course there is a lot of damage that can be done, but what can "go wrong" just using the startup tab? Basically, why do I need a startup manager? Interested to hear opinions! –  outsideblasts Dec 11 '09 at 1:44
i added an article addressing your concerns to my answer. –  Molly7244 Dec 11 '09 at 2:34
Interesting, and convincing, read. Thanks Molly. –  outsideblasts Dec 11 '09 at 6:26
Autoruns is awesome. Except that for services, it takes you to the registry instead of to the services control panel... minor quibble. An additional ding against msconfig is that the window is tiny and can't be resized, so you have to scroll a lot. At least in Windows XP –  skypecakes Dec 11 '09 at 23:50
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WinPatrol is very good, it can help you manage startup programs among many other things:

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I was going to suggest the same myself. Use it myself, and even has a really nice delayed start list. –  studiohack Dec 11 '09 at 2:49
And it's nicely refined. Been around for ages. Great piece of software. –  John T Dec 11 '09 at 2:56
Scotty, the barking mutt, still around? :) –  Molly7244 Dec 11 '09 at 12:57
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CCleaner is a good bet and it's free. It cleans startup entries, the registry and temporary files.

I have used Ashampoo WinOptimizer for friends and neighbors in the past as well. It's more thorough (can optimize services as well), but it's only a 10 or 15 day trial.

The list of startup management apps is very long and you can find a wealth of them over at CNET's download.com.

I wouldn't use MSConfig unless I had to - it's advanced and can break your system if you don't know what you're doing.

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