Speed up your PC by optimizing the startup programs

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When a Windows computer is running slowly, one of the first things I check is this: How many programs are running at the same time, both visibly and in the background? The more programs are running, the slower they all run. So let’s streamline your computer and run only those programs that are needed.

speed up your pc


This is something I see all the time, and it’s an issue that eventually returns even after it’s fixed.

On a new computer – software companies pay to have Dell or HP or any other computer manufacturer include their software on any newly built PC. It’s bad enough that the machines are loaded with this bloatware, but in addition the computers are instructed to automatically run a lot of these programs every time the computer boots up.

On an already-in-use computer – Got a new HP printer? After you install the software for it on your computer, check that startup list – you’ll find several HP programs that have been added. Do you need these things running in order to print? No. All they do is slow down your computer. And HP isn’t the only culprit here – most printer manufacturers do the same thing.

So the end goal here is to make sure that the only programs running on your computer at any given time are the ones that you need to have running.

Here’s how you do that:

For Windows 7:

  1. Click the start button, and in the search field, type msconfig, then click on msconfig in the menu above when it shows up.
  2. In the new window, click the Startup tab.
  3. Go down the list and UNcheck the programs that don’t need to be running all the time in the background.
  4. Click OK, and restart your computer.

For Windows 8 or Windows 10:

  1. Hold down CTRL and SHIFT, and tap the ESC key.
  2. Click on the Startup tab. (If you don’t see any tabs, click “More details”).
  3. For each item in the list that does not need to run all the time, do a right click and choose “Disable”. (some of them might already have the disabled status – that’s fine).
  4. Close the window and restart your computer.


And the big question: What should I uncheck or disable? In most cases, you can disable:

  • any HP or Dell programs
  • iTunes
  • Adobe Reader
  • MS Office
  • Any printer-related software
  • OneDrive
  • Skype
  • Logitech
  • QuickTime
  • Google Chrome
  • Cyberlink
  • Apple Push
  • Spotify or Pandora
  • Any toolbars

Things to remember:

Don’t disable everything in the list. Some things SHOULD be running all the time, such as your antivirus, or your online backup service, or maybe Teamviewer (if you have a service that monitors your computer’s security).

By disabling or unchecking a program, you aren’t removing it from your computer. If it turns out a particular program does need to run in the background, you can just go back in an re-enable it.

If you see something in the list and you don’t know what it is, leave it enabled. If you want, you can research the file name and see if it should be running or not.

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May 1st, 2017

Hello Scott,

I enjoy your Monday reads. I’ve picked up a tip here and there. I’ve been using the MSConfig utility to clean up start-up programs on end user PCs for years. I don’t complete the steps above unless I also remove the unchecked items from the system registry at HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Shared Tools\MSConfig. Unchecked items from MSConfig end up either in the startupfolder or startupreg. Without deleting the corresponding entries here, your windows startup will remain in selective startup mode which isn’t optimal.

Now the question becomes “do we really want end-users in the system registry?