How to disable non-essential startup programs

photo of vehicles on road during evening

When I am asked why a Windows PC or laptop is slow, my first question is always “Is it slow at startup?” 9 times out of 10 the answer is yes and that means one of two things.

  1. There are too many programs running in the background, all fighting for resources causing a traffic jam.
  2. A dodgy internet connection can cause those very same programs to get stuck waiting, which causes a bottleneck.

You can see the two issues I have mentioned are related. If you have less programs vying for attention, then they will consume less resources and will also require less bandwidth from your internet connection. In other words, things will be faster.

Most programs will have an option buried somewhere within their settings that tells Windows to either run this program when Windows first starts, or don’t. Now it is going to be impractical for me to list the different ways each and every program handles that particular setting, but there is another way and it’s much easier.

Task Manager

Windows has had Task Manager for many years and it surprises me when people say, “What did you just do?” when I open it on their machine to check something. It’s a useful little program and is vital for keeping your Windows computer running in an optimal fashion. I am not going to go into all the ins and outs of Task Manager, but I am going to show you how to use it to disable those annoying programs you don’t want clogging up the startup sequence.

Disable Start-up Programs using Task Manager

There are a few ways you can open Task Manager, I find the simplest ways are to either press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and choose it from the list (Fig. 1), or right click on a blank space in the taskbar and select it from the context menu (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1 – Ctrl + Alt + Del
Fig. 2 – Right click on the taskbar

If this is the first time you have opened Task Manager, you will most likely be presented with a rather minimal version as shown below (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3 – Minimal Task Manager view

You will need to click on ‘More details’ to get the version of Task Manager that you need.

Fig. 4 – Detailed Task Manager view

Now that you have the detailed view open (Fig. 4), you’ll see lots of apps and processes listed. You can ignore those and simply click on the Start-up tab at the top.

With the Start-up tab open (Fig. 5), you can review the programs that are enabled to run when Windows first starts. To disable a program, just left click on it with the mouse and then click on the Disable button at the bottom.

Some programs you will want to keep enabled, but you might decide others are not essential at all. If you decide that you have disabled the wrong program, it’s easy to fix. Just follow the procedure above, but click on the Enable button instead.

Fig. 5 – The Task Manager Start-up tab

Once you have finished reviewing the list of start-up programs, just close the window like you would any other. You might want to test whether the changes have made any difference to loading times, so it’s a good idea to restart your machine to check it. If anything seems amiss, simply go back and enable the programs you need again.

One last thing. If you disable a program in this way, you aren’t consigning it to the bin indefinitely. It just means it won’t start automatically in the background. You can still manually start a program via the Start menu, or by using the built in search feature or an icon on your desktop.

Leave a Reply