Subject:HOW CAN I DISABLE APPS FROM RUNNING AT START-UP?
  Author: Richie
  Posted: 2004-10-31 09:46:33


A number of methods can be prevent programs from running at startup. What these are how you use them is described here.

My recommendations are that you try each of the methods listed below in that order. Each method has an indication of which Windows operating system it is applicable to.

1) Using a program's own configuration options - Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP
The best option is to check if a program gives you an option to disable the function you're interested in - via a right-click on a System Tray icon or maybe an "options" menu within the program. If this isn't available then you have to try something else.

For example, Norton SystemWorks has an "Options" tab on the main start-up screen that allows you to configure the utilities in the suite - Norton Utilities, Norton AntiVirus and Norton Cleansweep.

2) Windows StartUp folder - Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP
If you click on Start -> Programs -> StartUp (Win9x/Me/NT/2K) or Start -> All Programs -> StartUp (WinXP) you may find programs loading from here via shortcuts. If this is the case, you have two options :-

Delete the shortcut from the StartUp directory (based on your OS):

Win9x/98/Me - C:WindowsStart MenuProgramsStartUp

WinNT/2K - C:WinntProfilesAll UsersStart MenuProgramsStartUp

WinXP - C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersStart MenuProgramsStartup

Create a temporary directory for your OS called "Disabled StartUp Programs" and move the shortcuts there. If a program doesn't work as expected you can always move the relevant shortcut back again

Win9x/98/Me - C:WindowsStart MenuPrograms

WinNT/2K - C:WinntProfilesAll UsersStart MenuPrograms

WinXP - C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersStart MenuPrograms

3) System Configuration Utility (MSCONFIG) - Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP
Work your way through the list of programs included here and deselect the appropriate boxes in your version then click OK followed by re-starting Windows.

WinME and WinXP display items for the same program in different ways in MSCONFIG. WinME uses the same descriptive text under the MSCONFIG "Name" and registry Run keys "Name" columns. WinXP often uses the first part of the filename under the "Startup Item" column and the equivalent descriptive part in the "Name" column of the registry "Run" keys. For instance, on my WinXP Home machine I have ZoneAlarm and see:

MSCONFIG : "Startup Item" = zlclient & "Command" = zlclient.exe
REGISTRY : "Name" = Zone Labs Client & "Data" = zlclient.exe
Virus entries in the program list are only shown using the registry version in this case to prevent unnecessary duplication due the number of them.

Notes:

When you have deselected an item in MSCONFIG, you will be starting in "Selective startup" mode. This can be seen under the "General" tab. Working in "Selective startup" mode is perfectly acceptable - I do and don't have a problem. Warning: If you subsequently decide to choose "Normal startup", all disabled items will be re-enabled



Some disabled items may disappear from MSCONFIG when you re-start Windows

MSCONFIG is intended to be used to temporarily disable programs from running at system start-up. In some cases, disabled items may be added to a new category under Start -> Programs (Win9x/Me/NT/2K) or Start -> All Programs (WinXP) called "Disabled Startup Items". If the entry has disappeared from MSCONFIG and is available here they can be copied back into the appropriate OS StartUp directory:

Win9x/98/Me - C:WindowsStart MenuProgramsStartUp

WinNT/2K - C:WinntProfilesAll UsersStart MenuProgramsStartUp

WinXP - C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersStart MenuProgramsStartup

For WinME users - If you have disabled items in MSCONFIG and at a later date uninstall the program they are associated with, you can click on the "Cleanup" button to verify and remove all invalid entries from the startup sections of the reigistry
If there is an option within a program to disable parts of it running at start-up (see here) and you don't use that method to disable them, you may find they are re-enabled in MSCONFIG the next time the program runs
4) Use a 3rd party utility to control start-up programs - Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP
There are a number of programs widely available as shareware or freeware that achieve the same purpose. Each can identify what programs are running at startup and allow you to control them to differing degrees. I cannot personally recommend an individual program as I don't use them and am happy enough with MSCONFIG (even though it is only intended to be a temporary solution while troubleshooting - see above).

Want to try a start-up manager? Try from the list given here.

5) The System Registry - Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP
Note: if you are running NT and don't have a startup manager you only have this choice remaining, which is a last resort.

You can both disable and permanently stop programs from running during start-up by editing the relevant entries from the System Registry using REGEDIT. This option isn't for the faint hearted and should only be used by those who are comfortable with editing the System Registry and understand what implications any changes may have. If you delete something from the System Registry accidentally, it may be corrupted to the extent that Windows may not re-start at all so beware.

For information about the Windows registry and editing it's contents try the Windows Guide Network registry pages.

To invoke the Registry Editor, click Start then Run. In the Open box, type regedit.exe followed by enter.

The keys you're interested in are as follows:-

HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun
HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRunOnce
HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRunServices
HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRunServicesOnce
HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun
HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRunOnce

For Windows 98 & Me, disabled items were placed in the registry keys named above with a "-" after it, ie:

HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun-

For Windows XP this is changed:-

For items that were in the Start -> Programs -> Startup folder:

HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftShared ToolsMSConfigstartupfolder

You'll find a subkey for each disabled item.

For items loaded from the Registry:

HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftShared ToolsMSConfigstartupreg

Again, you'll find a subkey for each disabled item.

6) WIN.INI - Windows 95/98/Me
The WIN.INI file is located in C:Windows (Win9x/Me/XP) or C:Winnt (WinNT/2k) and can be seen if you have enabled "Show hidden files and folders" via My Computer -> Tools -> Folder Options then the "View" tab. This file is executed at Windows startup.

Some valid programs and a lot of virusses load at startup via this method under the [windows] section via "run=" or "load=" as follows:

[windows]
run=hpfsched
run=%Windows%CapsideRed.pif
load=asistat.exe
Load = "C:WindowsSystem32.exe"

In the first example, "hpfsched" is a valid entry to remind you to clean the cartridges in your HP DeskJet from time to time in
order to keep print quality high. It can be removed from the run line in win.ini file if you do not want that feature.

In the second example, "CapsideRed.pif" has been added by the CASPID virus and is obviously not desired (where %Windows% is C:Windows or C:Winnt).

In the third example, "asistat.exe" is a valid entry that is the status monitor for an NEC SuperScript printer. It can be removed from the load line in win.ini if you do not want that feature.

In the final example, "System32.exe" has been added by the MARI virus and is obviously not desired.

Note: From WinMe onwards MSCONFIG includes the "run=" and "load=" entries so this section is only included for completeness. Only valid "run=" entries are included in the programs list to save against repitition from the many virusses that use this method.

7) SYSTEM.INI - Windows 95/98/Me
The SYSTEM.INI file is located in C:Windows (Win9x/Me/XP) or C:Winnt (WinNT/2k) and can be seen if you have enabled "Show hidden files and folders" via My Computer -> Tools -> Folder Options then the "View" tab. This file is executed at Windows startup.

The only valid entry under the "shell=" line here is:

[boot]
shell=Explorer.exe

However, some virusses use this line to execute themselves at startup. For example:

[boot]
shell=Explorer.exe %Windows%Capside.exe

This has been added by the CASPID virus and is obviously not desired (where %Windows% is C:Windows or C:Winnt).

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