Remove Windows Startup Items to Fix Your Slow Computer for Free

Kannon Yamada 30-10-2015

Got a slow Windows computer? The problem often originates with user-installed, auto-starting programs. A handful of these you need. The majority you don’t want. Some love hogging system resources and phoning home with your data. Others do so with malicious intent. Killing startup apps requires just a few simple steps.


My own experiences with auto-starting apps emerged after owning a Dell XPS laptop Dell XPS 13 2015 Review and Giveaway The XPS represents the pinnacle of laptop design in 2015, and it's the best bang for your buck out of any laptop we've ever seen in the $800 price range. Read More for a year. The Dell didn’t start off with memory problems. It developed RAM anemia How Much RAM Do You Really Need? How much computer memory do you need? Here's how to check your installed RAM and how much RAM your computer needs. Read More over time. In that short period, I found myself constantly running out of memory.

out of memory warning windows

So what caused the problem? The slow deterioration in performance originated from memory hogs, like Steam and Samsung Magician. But because most methods won’t locate and remove all startup applications, the best option is to use as many options as possible.

Kinds of Startup Programs

You can detect and remove auto-starting programs using several different approaches, although none of them will catch all startup applications. The top methods:

  • Optimization programs: CCleaner and Revo Uninstaller offer powerful optimization tools. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t get all auto-starters.
  • Windows Startup Folder
  • Windows Task Manager
  • Configuration within the application: This method removes auto-starting apps by configuring startup capabilities within the application. This removes most auto-starters, but fails to remove certain apps.
  • Windows Task Scheduler: This gets the sneakiest auto-starters, but still doesn’t get them all.

Here’s a quick guide on how to use each method:


Remove Startup Apps with CCleaner

We’ve written about using CCleaner for optimizing system Optimize Your System To Run At Its Best With CCleaner Over the last two years, CCleaner has changed quite a bit in terms of version numbers...up now to version 3.10 at the time of this writing. While visually the program actually hasn't changed much (it's... Read More performance. It’s also available on Android (which I highly recommend). CCleaner offers, by far, the best tool for removing startup bloatware How To Remove Bloatware & Avoid It On New Laptops Tired of software you never wanted consuming your laptop's resources? Your computer isn't free ad space. Here's how to get rid of bloatware. Read More from your computer. Unlike the other methods listed in this article, CCleaner covers all the bases (except registry optimization during uninstallation). It removes programs that were scheduled as tasks, those residing in the Windows Startup Folder, and those which start based on registry entries.

To begin, install CCleaner and run it. Click on Tools in the left pane and then choose Startup from the center pane.

ccleaner task remover

You’ll then see a menu in the center pane with multiple tabs. Here you can eliminate five different categories of apps which automatically start: Windows, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Scheduled Tasks, and Context menu.


ccleaner eliminates startup entries

Apps that launch at boot are classified under the Windows category. Apps that launch with your browser are classified under Internet Explorer and Chrome. Apps launched using Windows Task Scheduler inhabit the Scheduled Tasks tab. Apps that you can execute by right-clicking are listed in the Context tab.

You can remove any of these items by right-clicking on them and selecting Disable. If you are absolutely certain that you don’t need the program launching, then you can choose to delete it. Although some programs will automatically re-enable their startup capabilities after running them. Malware notoriously does this.

ccleaner disable startup entry context meu


CCleaner is amazing software, although Danny Stieben prefers IOBit Advanced System Care over CCleaner Cleaners Compared: CCleaner vs. Slimcleaner vs. IObit Advanced SystemCare Although Windows is a very capable operating system, it is infamous for its deteriorating performance over time. With the help of some clever system cleaners, however, you can drastically increase the life expectancy of your... Read More . I beg to differ. For removing auto-starters, CCleaner offers more options.

Remove Startup Apps with Revo Uninstaller

Removing an automatically starting application with Revo Uninstaller Revo Uninstaller Will Hunt Down Your Bloatware Read More  doesn’t take much effort. Simply install Revo Uninstaller and run the program.

From the main interface, click on Tools from the tabbed options. Then select Autorun Manager. You can disable any startup item by unchecking the checked box next to its name.

revo uninstaller remove startup items


Revo also possesses the ability to remove applications, along with their Windows registry entries. This oftentimes catches software elements that enter into memory, even after uninstalling the application.

Remove Startup Apps with the Windows Task Scheduler

The Task Scheduler has been used as a means to sneak a lot of different software into the Windows operating system, without their entry showing up in optimization scans. Users can access this by using Windows Search to locate Schedule tasks. The Task Scheduler can also be located from the Control Panel, under Administrative tools.

windows task schedule

Once inside the Task Scheduler, from the left-pane, choose Task Scheduler Library. Then, from the center pane, pick the startup item that you want to disable. Finally, select Disable from the right-pane.

windows task scheduler

Remove Startup Apps with the Windows 8 Task Manager

In Windows 7, users can use msconfig.exe to remove auto-starters. In Windows 8 and above, users use the Windows Task Manager. To remove apps, just launch the Task Manager by hitting and holding CTRL + ALT + Delete (holding all button down at the same time). Then choose the Startup tab.

windows task manager startup removal

You’ll see a list of all the startup apps on your system. To disable any auto-starter, just right-click and select Disable from the context menu.

Remove Startup Apps from the Windows Startup Folder

This method is functionally identical to using the Windows Task Manager. You can simply navigate to this folder to remove the offending apps. Both CCleaner and Revo Uninstaller can do this as well, but in case you want to manually remove them, there’s two directories in which Windows 8 and above stores auto-starters:

C:\users\*your user name here*\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

For apps that start for all users, you’ll want to check the following folder:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

Windows 7 and earlier builds allow users to access the startup folder through the command line. Simply typing shell:startup into the Run program (Windows key + R) launches the Startup folder.

windows shell startup folder run launcher

Once you’re in the Startup Folder, you can delete items as if they were files. Deleting any item will remove it as an auto-launching program.

widnows startup folder

Configure Apps to Not Auto-Start at Boot

Most legitimate apps allow users to prevent them from automatically launching, although it’s not always straightforward. My favorite example is Samsung Magician, which is a Solid State Drive (what’s an SSD? How Do Solid-State Drives Work? In this article, you'll learn exactly what SSDs are, how SSDs actually work and operate, why SSDs are so useful, and the one major downside to SSDs. Read More ) optimization tool for Samsung drives How to Fix Slow Speeds of Samsung TLC SSDs in Ultrabooks Many Windows Ultrabook SSDs with TLC memory suffer from a crushing flaw: After a few weeks, read speeds grind to a crawl. We show you how to restore the drive's original performance. Read More .

Samsung Magician uses the Schedule Tasks feature to automatically launch itself, without placing an easily detectable entry in the Windows registry. This allows it to skirt around many system optimization software, like Revo Uninstaller. However, Samsung made disabling it ridiculously easy (although not really straightforward).

Just right-click on the Samsung Magician icon in the Windows System tray (located in the lower-right of your screen), then select Remove from Startup.

remove from startup

What’s the Best Method for Killing Startup Programs?

The best method of removing auto-starting applications — and therefore optimizing your Windows machine’s performance How Windows Performance Is Affected by Hardware & Software In theory, 32-bit software could outperform its 64-bit counterpart, depending on the hardware setup. Sounds complicated? We're here to make sense and help you get the best performance out of your system. Read More — revolves around using a multi-spectrum approach: CCleaner offers the single best tool for removing startup programs and Revo Uninstaller can remove many of the residual registry entries, without damaging your operating system.

Neither program offers 100% efficacy, but in concert with one another, the efficacy increases several-fold. I also recommend performing a manual sweep of the Windows Startup folder for maximum benefit, using either of the two methods mentioned in this guide.

However, keep in mind that if your system suffers from serious performance issues, the problem might relate to malware. We recommend taking 10 malware killing steps 10 Steps To Take When You Discover Malware On Your Computer We would like to think that the Internet is a safe place to spend our time (cough), but we all know there are risks around every corner. Email, social media, malicious websites that have worked... Read More , if removing startup items doesn’t help performance. Also consider reading our malware removal guide The Complete Malware Removal Guide Malware is everywhere these days, and eradicating malware from your system is a lengthy process, requiring guidance. If you think your computer is infected, this is the guide you need. Read More , which includes such necessary steps as performing the malware scan from within Windows Safe Mode (how to boot into Safe Mode? How to Boot in Safe Mode on Windows 10 Facing Windows booting problems? Safe Mode is a built-in Windows 10 troubleshooting feature you should try first. Read More ).

Have you had low memory issues and which programs were to blame? Share with us in the comments!

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8.1.

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  1. Gary
    June 6, 2016 at 1:27 am

    Use "The Great Suspender" extension to speed up Chrome. Gives you back those precious resources and lets your PC run at optimal speed.

  2. Anonymous
    November 3, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    I Use OPERA15+ In A 32Bit System With A Total 4GB ( 3.5GB ) Of RAM.

    Opening Multiple Tabs Simultaneously Can Make Memory Disappear Really Fast.

    To Have The Browser Not Crashing All The Time, I Adopted 2 CHROME Extensions:


    - It Allows Configuring When I Want To Be Warned Of Low Memory,
    - I Configured It To Warn Me When Less Than 1GB Of Memory Is Free,


    - It Allows To Suspend All Or Several Tabs At Once, Saving Memory.

    Using These 2 Extensions Allows For Having Dozens Of Tabs Opened At The Same Time.


  3. Kannon Yamada
    November 1, 2015 at 10:47 am

    Great comment, thank you Gordon! I hadn't updated to the latest build of CCleaner.

  4. Anonymous
    October 31, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Chrome is the worst culprit for hogging resources and not giving them back

    • Kannon Yamada
      November 1, 2015 at 10:46 am

      Absolutely. Chrome is the number 1 resource hog out of the apps commonly installed on a computer. Strange enough, there's a number of Chrome derivatives that use less system resources and provide better performance. like Epic browser.

  5. Anonymous
    October 31, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Whilst Revo is very good at uninstalling programs and clearing out the left-overs it should be noted that the free version only "sees" 32-bit applications and start-up entries. You must upgrade to the Pro version to include 64-bit.

    The free version of Ccleaner finds both 32- and 64-bit programs and in the latest update (v 5.11) also includes Windows 10 "modern apps" in the uninstall tool.