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How to disable or enable auto-start programs and drivers in Windows 10

Updated July 11, 2020

In doing computer repair, I often get asked, "Why does my computer take so long to start up?". Quite often, it turns out that there are items set to auto-start that don't need to or don't exist anymore. Here's how to disable programs, drivers, and services that auto-start in Windows 10.

How to disable or enable auto-start programs and drivers in Windows 10

Now this one doesn't cost any money and can dramatically improve the time it takes for your computer and programs to start up. By minimizing the number of applications that launch at startup, you can also free up memory.

Now there are three (3) programs I use to enable or disable programs, drivers, or services that start up in Windows 10. The built-in programs (Task Manager and System Configuration) are pretty safe to use but still can degrade performance if not used properly. The third program (Autoruns / Autoruns64) can be dangerous because not only can it enable or disable entries, it can also delete them.

Note: I recommended that you make changes one at a time and restart between them. That way, you can find out if you need that program or service you just disabled. Yes, it's time-consuming, but sometimes you have to do it.

Task Manager (Auto-start programs)

The Startup tab inside of Windows 10 Task Manager
The Startup tab inside of Windows 10 Task Manager

Using Task Manager is the most comfortable and safest way to enable or disable programs that auto-start with Windows 10. None of the programs listed here are going to prevent your computer from starting if disabled. You will not find any program listed here that Windows 10 requires to operate.

Now for those of you that are not familiar with Task Manager, it's a built-in program that does a lot of different things. It monitors running programs, system performance, and active processes. And it also manages programs that auto-start with Windows 10.

How to start Task Manager in Windows 10

  1. Right-click on an empty area of the Taskbar.
  2. On the context menu that appears, left-click on Task Manager.

or

  1. Press CTRL + ALT + DEL all at the same time.
  2. From the security screen that appears, left-click on Task Manager.

The first time you run Task Manager, it only displays running apps. You have to left-click on the More details arrow to view all of the tabs. Once you have the tabs displayed, left-click on Startup.

From here, all you have to do is highlight the program name and select the Enable / Disable button located in the bottom right-hand corner.

System Configuration (Auto-start services)

The Services tab inside of Windows 10 System Configuration
The Services tab inside of Windows 10 System Configuration

This program is used mainly for diagnostics, so there are no splashy graphics here. With System Configuration, you can change the services that auto-start with Windows 10. Be careful about making changes here, as they can have a significant impact on system performance.

How to start System Configuration in Windows 10

  1. Left-click on the Start Menu and scroll down the list of applications to Windows Administrative Tools.
  2. Left-click on Windows Administrative Tools to expand the contents.
  3. Scroll down and left-click on System Configuration.

or

  1. Press the Windows logo key Windows logo key + R to bring up the Run dialog box.
  2. Type in MSCONFIG and left-click on OK.

From the default dialog box, select the Service tab. There you will find all of the services that auto-start with Windows 10. Remember that some of the Microsoft services listed cannot be disabled, so it's always best to select the Hide all Microsoft services checkbox at the bottom of the services section.

Once you have made your changes left-click on the Apply button, then left-click on the OK button. You will get a dialog box prompting you to either Restart or Exit without restart. Left-click on Restart, and you're ready to go. Remember to make changes one at a time and restart in between changes.

Autoruns / Autoruns64 (Auto-start programs, drivers and services)

The Everything tab inside of Microsoft Autoruns
The Everything tab inside of Microsoft Autoruns

Autoruns.exe (32-bit) and Autoruns64.exe (64-bit) are part of Microsoft's Sysinternals Suite of troubleshooting utilities and do not come with Windows 10. But they are free, require no installation, and can be downloaded separately or with the complete suite (see links below).

This program is the most complex of them all. And the most dangerous! Why do you ask? Besides being able to disable programs, drivers, and services that auto-start, you can also delete their load points altogether. So be careful!

Once you downloaded the files and extracted them to a permanent location, open that folder with File Explorer. Locate either Autoruns.exe or Autoruns64.exe (depending on your version of Windows 10). Right-click on the release of Autoruns for your version of Windows 10 and select Run as administrator from the context menu.

When you start Autoruns, it automatically scans your computer for auto-start programs, drivers, and services. Autoruns has multiple tabs for the different Windows auto-start locations (logon, services, drivers, etc.), including one called Everything. And if you select the User pull-down menu on the toolbar on top of the program, you can also select the different user profiles.

If you want to disable/enable a program or driver, left-click on the checkbox on the left-hand side of the entry. You can also delete an entry, but I recommend that you back it up first, just in case. If you find you don't need the backup, you can delete the file later.

To back up an entry in Autoruns, you right-click on it, and a context menu will appear. Left-click on Jump to entry ... and the Registry Editor opens to the location in the registry of that entry. Right-click on the selected entry in the Registry Editor, and a context menu appears. Left-click on Export and select a location and file name for your backup file.

Autoruns
Sysinternals Suite

Clean up Windows 10 with Disk Cleanup

There are a lot of programs out there that can clean up your Windows 10 computer. But did you know that one of the best ones comes with Windows 10? Here's how to clean up your Windows 10 computer with Disk Cleanup.

Clean up Windows 10 with Disk Cleanup

Disk Cleanup has been included with Windows since Windows XP and is part of my regular scheduled maintenance. Disk Cleanup can be run two (2) different ways and can have three (3) different sets of options. The first way to run it is from any of the shortcuts built into Windows (Start menu or disk properties). When you use a built-in shortcut, you will have two (2) different sets of options, user and system.

Disk Cleanup user options in Windows 10
Disk Cleanup user options in Windows 10
Disk Cleanup system options in Windows 10
Disk Cleanup system options in Windows 10

When you run Disk Cleanup with user options, you can clean up user-specific files such as downloaded program files, temporary Internet files, and the recycle bin. With system options, you can also clean up Windows system files like Windows temporary files, device driver packages, and previous installations of Windows, just to name a few.

Disk Cleanup command line options in Windows 10
Disk Cleanup command line options in Windows 10

Disk Cleanup can also be run using command line switches. When you do this, you get the maximum options available. But you will have to run it at an administrative command prompt to configure these options. These options include all user and system options plus a few more, like old chkdsk files, Windows Update Cleanup, and Windows ESD installation files.

How to run Disk Cleanup from the Start menu

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo button.
  2. Scroll down to Windows Administrative Tools and left-click to expand.
  3. Left-click on Disk Cleanup. If you have more than one (1) drive, you will be prompted on which drive you want to clean up.

Disk Cleanup will scan your system for files that it can remove and open with the available user options. You can now choose which user files you would like to delete. To activate the system options, you will need to select Clean up system files in the lower left-hand corner. When you do this, Disk Cleanup will close and rescan your computer.

This time Disk Cleanup will now include system files that can be removed. It will also have a second tab on top called More Options. Under More Options, you will find other options, Programs and Features and System Restore and Shadow Copies.

Programs and Features will take you to the Control Panel, where you can uninstall programs or add/remove Windows features. Selecting System Restore and Shadow Copies will delete all but the most recent restore point. Use this carefully, as you cannot get back any restore points once they are deleted.

How to run Disk Cleanup from an administrative command prompt

You can run Disk Cleanup with or without command-line switches. When you run Disk Cleanup without any switches, it opens with the system options selections. When you run it with switch /sageset:n, you will get even more options than the system settings.

The first thing you will need to do is open an Administrative Command Prompt.

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 10

Then type the following into the command prompt to run Disk Cleanup.

cleanmgr

Disk Cleanup can also be used with command-line switches, further expanding on its features. And when used with the /sageset:n and /sagerun:n switches, you can save multiple configurations that can be used in a shortcut or as a scheduled task. Here's an explanation of the /sageset:n and /sagerun:n switches.

cleanmgr /sageset:n

/sageset:n - This switch displays the Disk Cleanup settings dialog box and creates a registry key to store the settings you select. The n value is stored in the registry and allows you to specify different tasks for Disk Cleanup to run. The n value can be any integer value from 0 to 65535. To get all the available options when using the /sageset switch, you may need to specify the drive letter that contains the Windows installation.

cleanmgr /sagerun:n

/sagerun:n - This switch runs the specified tasks assigned to the n value by using the /sageset switch. All drives in the computer will be enumerated, and the selected profile will be run against each drive.

How to run Disk Cleanup as a Scheduled Task

First, you will need to have created a preset configuration using the /sageset:n switch. Then open Task Scheduler and create a new task.

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo button.
  2. Scroll down to Windows Administrative Tools and left-click to expand.
  3. Left-click on Task Scheduler.
  4. In the right column labeled Actions, select Create Basic Task. The Create a Basic Task Wizard will appear.
  5. Give the task a name and description and then select Next.
  6. Select when you want it to run (trigger).
  7. When prompted for what task you want to perform, select Start a program, then select Next.
  8. When prompted for a program/script to start, select Browse and navigate to C:\Windows\System32\ and select cleanmgr.exe.
  9. In the Add arguments section, type /sagerun:n and then select Next.
  10. The then select Finish, and you're all set.

Free up more disk space with Windows 7 Disk Cleanup

During the normal use of your computer, you will accumulate a number of unnecessary files (temporary setup / internet files, recycle bin, etc.). You can remove these files with the built-in Disk Cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) utility inside of Windows 7. And it can be run a couple of different ways and with different options.

Running Disk Cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) on demand

There are a couple of different ways to run Disk Cleanup on demand. The following procedure cleans up files associated with your user account. You can also use Disk Cleanup to clean up all the files on your computer.

Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with standard options
Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with standard options

  1. Click Start, and then type Disk Cleanup in the Start Search box.
    or
    Click Start, then All Programs, then Accessories, then System Tools, then Disk Cleanup
  2. In the Drives list, click the hard disk drive that you want to clean up, and then click OK
  3. In the Disk Cleanup dialog box, on the Disk Cleanup tab, select the check boxes for the file types that you want to delete, and then click OK
  4. In the message that appears, click Delete files

The More Options tab is available when you choose to clean files from all users on the computer. This tab includes two additional ways to free even more disk space:

Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with more options
Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with more options

  • Programs and Features. This option opens Programs and Features in Control Panel, where you can uninstall programs that you no longer use. The Size column in Programs and Features shows how much disk space each program uses.
  • System Restore and Shadow Copies. With this option, you can delete all but the most recent restore point on the disk.
    System Restore uses restore points to return your system files to an earlier point in time. If your computer is running normally, you can save disk space by deleting the earlier restore points.
    In some editions of Windows 7, restore points can include previous versions of files, known as shadow copies, and backup images created with Windows Complete PC Backup. These files and images will also be deleted.

Running Disk Cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) as a scheduled task

You can also run Disk Cleanup from a command prompt. This gives you a few more options, like predefined settings for running Disk Cleanup as scheduled task in Task Scheduler. First we need to bring up a command prompt.

Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with sageset options
Windows 7 Disk Cleanup dialog box with sageset options

  1. Click Start, and then type cmd in the Start Search box.
  2. In the search results list, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as Administrator.
  3. If you are prompted by User Account Control, click Continue.

You can start the Disk Cleanup tool by running cleanmgr.exe. Disk Cleanup supports the following command-line switches:

  • cleanmgr /d driveletter: - This switch selects the drive that you want Disk Cleanup to clean. Note that the /d switch is not used with /sagerun:n.
  • cleanmgr /sageset:n - This switch displays the Disk Cleanup Settings dialog box and creates a registry key to store the settings you select. The n value is stored in the registry and allows you to specify different tasks for Disk Cleanup to run. The n value can be any integer value from 0 to 65535. To get all the available options when you are using the /sageset switch, you may need to specify the drive letter that contains the Windows installation.
  • cleanmgr /sagerun:n - This switch runs the specified tasks that are assigned to the n value by using the /sageset switch. All drives in the computer will be enumerated, and the selected profile will be run against each drive.

How to run Disk Cleanup (cleanmgr.exe) on demand and as a scheduled task inside of Windows 7.

Monitor your computer's performance, programs and processes with Task Manager in Windows (Video)

Task Manager provides information about programs and processes running on your computer. It also displays the most commonly used performance measures for processes.

You can use Task Manager to monitor key indicators of your computer's performance. You can see the status of the programs that are running and end programs that have stopped responding. You can also assess the activity of running processes using as many as fifteen parameters.

In addition, if you are connected to a network, you can view network status and see how your network is functioning.

If you have more than one user connected to your computer, you can see who is connected, what they are working on, and you can send them a message.

Open Task Manager:

  • To open Windows Task Manager, right-click an empty space on the taskbar, and then click Task Manager or by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ESC.

Note:
You might need to be logged on as an administrator or a member of the Administrators group in order to perform some tasks.

Programs that are running

The Applications tab shows the status of the programs running on your computer.

On this tab, you can end, switch to, or start a program.

Processes that are running

The Processes tab shows information about the processes running on your computer.

For example, you can display information on CPU and memory usage, page faults, handle count, and a number of other parameters.

Performance measures

The Performance tab displays a dynamic overview of your computer's performance, including:

  • Graphs for CPU and memory usage.
  • Totals for the number of handles, thread, and processes running on your computer.
  • Totals, in kilobytes, for physical, kernel, and commit memory.

Viewing Network performance

The Networking tab displays a graphical representation of network performance. It provides a simple, qualitative indicator that shows the status of the network(s) that are running on your computer. The Networking tab is displayed only if a network card is present.

On this tab, you can view the quality and availability of your network connection, whether you are connected to one or more than one network.

Monitoring Sessions

The Users tab displays users who can access this computer, and session status and names. Client Name specifies the name of the client computer using the session, if applicable. Session provides a name for you to use to perform such tasks as sending another user a message or connecting to another user’s session.

The Users tab is displayed only if the computer you are working on has Fast User Switching enabled, and is a member of a workgroup or is a standalone computer. The Users tab is unavailable on computers that are members of a network domain.

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(602) 795-1111

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company that specializes in servicing all brands of desktop and laptop computers. Since 2008, our expert and knowledgeable technicians have provided excellent computer repair, virus removal, data recovery, photo manipulation, and website support to the greater Phoenix metro area.

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