Remove unneeded startup programs with CCleaner
Many programs start background processes automatically before or after you log in to Windows. These processes take time to launch and they also consume memory (RAM). As a result, Windows starts and works slower. The effect is most notable on older PCs.
CCleaner allows managing such Windows startup items, browser add-ons and toolbars, scheduled tasks and context menu entries safely and non-destructively.
If CCleaner is not already running, open Start menu or Start screen by pressing Windows Key on keyboard.
Window XP users should choose All Programs, find CCleaner folder and click CCleaner:
Windows Vista and 7 users should type "ccleaner" into Search box and click CCleaner in search results.
In Windows 8 or 8.1 Start screen, type "ccleaner" (you do not need to open Search charm) and click it in the results. Touch-screen owners should first swipe in from the right side and tap the Search icon.
Open Tools tab from the left side of CCleaner window and then click Startup tab. Make sure that the Windows tab is open.
This opens a list of programs that start automatically with Windows.
Click on a program that you know is not needed and then click Disable on the right. This will just gray out the entry so that you can enable it again later, if necessary.
Do not use the Delete button here and in other tabs - you can always re-enable items quickly and easily, but restoring erased items is much more difficult.
Some well-known examples of programs that tend to waste memory and processor resources are Adobe Reader Speed Launcher, iTunesHelper and QuickTime Task. These programs are so-called "helpers" that make launching its main program faster. Well, you do not normally open Adobe Reader thousand times a day, or watch QuickTime videos on web all day - so opening these programs a second slower is not a problem.
Another bunch here are automatic updating programs: Google Update, SunJavaUpdateSched and Adobe ARM. In case you are already using Secunia PSI, you can disable these with peace of mind.
- Google Update that comes with Google Chrome is really an overkill, because Google Chrome downloads updates automatically each time you launch it - no background process needed for this.
- Sun Java Update Scheduler is probably the slowest automatic update program in the whole Universe anyway, so using Secunia PSI is a much better alternative for keeping Java Runtime Environment up-to-date.
- Adobe ARM automatically updates Adobe Reader. If you are not using Secunia PSI, leave this one enabled.
But please do not go berzerk here! Disabling useful startup programs can make your Windows experience much worse, and not all startup programs are bad. For example, MSC entry loads Microsoft Security Essentials - you wouldn't want to be unprotected from viruses and other malware.
Please disable only the items you know you do not need. If you know nothing about some entry, leave it as it is, or look for its description on Google or Bing.
You can now restart your computer to see if Windows starts faster. If you accidentally disabled some necessary startup item, run CCleaner again, click the entry you need and then click the Enable button.
Some other well-known startup helpers or programs are:
- quickstart.exe in OpenOffice.org or LibreOffice program folder - a program that helps OpenOffice.org/LibreOffice components start faster.
- CLIstart.exe in ATI Technologies folder - this refers to ATI/AMD Catalyst Contol Center and it is not needed unless you want to change monitor resolution or GPU configuration often.
- igfxtray.exe, hkcmd.exe and igfxpers.exe in Windows\System32 folder - for Intel graphics cards only: Notification bar icon, hotkey support and some persistence program. If you do not change resolution often or use shortcut keys for rotating screen, disable these.
- nvhotkey.dll, NvCpll.dll and nwiz.exe - for nVidia graphics cards only: hotkey support, overclocking support and nView support. If you do not use shortcut keys, overclock your graphics card or use nView features, disable these.
You can also use Google or Bing to check if you need a program at startup.
Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1 also store a special log in Event Viewer that can be used for performance troubleshooting.
HKCU, HKLM, Startup Common, Startup User - what are these?
In the column named Key there are some abbreviations that might seem pretty cryptic at first. Let's go through these shortly:
- HKLM:Run - refers to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE entry in Windows Registry. This means that the program is launched for every user on your PC.
- HKCU:Run - refers to HKEY_CURRENT_USER entry in Windows Registry. This means that the program is launched only for your user account.
- Startup Common - refers to the Startup folder for all users in Start menu.
- Startup User - refers to the Startup folder for your user account in Start menu.
Since version 3.16, CCleaner also supports speeding up web browser launch and enabling or disabling Scheduled Tasks and Context Menu entries. All these should be treated with care - disabling necessary add-ons might impair browser functionality, disabling certain tasks might prevent automatic updating of important programs, and disabling context menu entries (the ones you see in the list after right-clicking a drive, folder or file) can hinder productivity.
Open the Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome or Opera tab. Here is full list of all extensions, add-ons, helpers, apps and toolbars that are loaded with the selected web browser. As described in the Internet Explorer 9 Troubleshooting article, too many toolbars and add-ons make the browser slow and often decrease stability. This rule of thumb, of course, applies to all browsers.
First, close all browser windows. Then, click an item and then click Disable to turn it off.
In Internet Explorer, you can safely turn off Blog This, Messenger Companion and Research extensions - these are provided by Microsoft, but very few people actually use these. Also turn off any toolbar (and its helpers) you do not want - for example, to disable Ask Toolbar completely, you must disable both its helper and toolbar add-ons.
After disabling any items, open your browser and see if it starts and runs fine. You can later select any disabled add-on in CCleaner and click Enable to turn it back on.
Different browsers have different items: for example, Chrome has apps, Firefox has both extensions and plugins. As usual, make sure you actually know what you're disabling, and do not use the Delete button.
Scheduled Tasks are predefined jobs that run on specified days and times. Such tasks include automatic updating of programs or data, system performance tuning, automatic event notifications, etc. As most tasks are useful, it is not recommended to fiddle around with them.
Open Scheduled Tasks tab and see if there are any items that are not needed. Click to select an item and then click Disable to turn the task off.
Again, do not use the Delete button, and do not disable tasks you have no idea about.
Context Menu entries are visible if you right-click a drive, folder or file. For example, you can print a document or scan it for viruses using right-click menus. These are useful examples, but some intrusive programs tend to add unneeded commands to Context Menus - and that's where CCleaner is helpful.
Open Context Menu tab and see if there are any items that are not needed. The Key column reveals if the entry is for Directories, Folders, Drives or Files.
Click to select an item and then click Disable to turn the entry off.
What is the difference between a Directory and a Folder here? Geeky stuff follows: Directories are actual file system entries (for example, Windows folder, or Program Files folder), and Folders are shell namespace containers (for example, Printers, Control Panel, etc), aka Virtual Folders.
To make it a bit more clear for those who remember command line: you can use Command Prompt to open Windows folder (with the cd\windows command), but you cannot open Control Panel folder the same way.