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Disable Unneeded Start-up Items

Windows 10 launches pretty quickly when it's newly installed but as you install more apps it may slow down over time. Any app that starts and runs automatically in the background will be using up precious processor resources. Here's how to keep that initial fast launch speed.

Customising Start-Up

If you first installed Windows 10 on a clean hard drive you probably notice that it launched much more quickly than Windows 8.1 ever did. However over time, as you've installed more programs, you may have noticed that the once sprightly boot-up time now takes noticeably longer. The reason for this is that many programs add files to the Windows start-up process, which are run as Windows launches, slowing down the launch process.

Some of these files are genuinely useful, doing things like updating your anti-virus software or launching and synchronising Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive; others are simply checking for software updates or initialising drivers for seldom used hardware. Some software manufacturers, notoriously Apple and Adobe, often install several start-up files at once and even if you disable them as we're about to show you, any subsequent software updates will re-activate the start-up files. This is particularly annoying, since the more of these start-up items there are, the slower Windows will launch.

You may have looked at these start-up items before and wondered whether or not it's safe to remove them. The simple answer is yes, it's perfectly safe; none of the start-up files are vital to the running of your PC and all of them can safely be disabled. Disabling a start-up file will not uninstall the software that it launches; all the apps that they affect can be started manually when needed and Windows will start-up completely safely without them. The only one you really need to leave in place is the one that starts up your anti-virus software, unless you're relying on Windows Defender, since you do need your PC to be protected from the moment it starts. In some cases the anti-virus software launcher will not even appear in the list to prevent you from accidentally disabling it.

If you regularly use a cloud storage service such as Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive you might also want to leave the start-up files for these active, since they ensure that your files will be synchronised automatically as soon as your PC boots up and you won't miss any important updates the day before an important deadline!

Fortunately there's a very simple way to check and if necessary disable these start-up items, restoring your Windows launch speed to its former brisk pace. Here's what you need to do:

  1. To get started, right-click on the Start button and select Task Manager from the power menu. This shows you a list of your currently running apps. To see more, click on the "More details" button at the bottom of the screen.
  2. The More details view shows you not just running apps but all the other services and routines that Windows is currently running, and there are a lot of them! However what we're interested in is found on the Start-up tab, so click on that.
  3. The Start-up tab shows you a list of the apps that run every time you launch Windows. On the left column is the name of the app, followed by the manufacturer's name, then the status: enabled or disabled. The right column shows the impact on start-up speed.
  4. Next you need to look through the list and decide which programs you really need to have starting up at launch, paying particular attention to any high impact apps. Things like iTunes Helper and cloud storage apps are prime examples.
  5. To disable an app, select it and click on the Disable button at the bottom of the window. If you're wondering which apps it's safe to disable, the answer is all of them; Windows will still run, however it's best to leave your security app as an enabled start-up item.
  6. Note that disabling an app in the start-up menu doesn't uninstall the app from your system, and you can always start any app you need manually. All disabling an app in the start-up list does is to prevent it from starting on launch.
  7. Once you've been through the list and disabled any apps that don't need to start on launch, close the Task Manager and try restarting your PC. You should find that it now boots up more quickly.
  8. Whenever you install a new app it's a good idea to check the start-up list again to make sure that it hasn't added itself to your launch process; if it has, simply disable it to maintain your fast boot-uptime.