Five Best Startup Management Tools

You boot up your computer and you wait, and wait... and wait, as all sorts of programs, helper apps, widgets and remnants of forgotten installations load. Grab one of these five popular startup managers and beat back the startup clutter.

Autoruns (Free)

Autoruns means business. You'll find no stone unturned in your startup configuration by Autoruns, with options for delving into everything from Windows services and third-party apps that start at boot-to-print spoolers and more. Autoruns is definitely a tool best applied cautiously and thoughtfully, lest you disable a portion of Windows you'd really preferred to have kept on. Thankfully, it has a handy feature that allows you to hide all core Windows components to limit your enabling and disabling to third-party applications.

Startup Delayer (Free)

Startup Delayer's claim to fame isn't that it helps you easily remove applications from your startup routine — it does that, but that's old hat for startup managers. The value of Startup Delayer is its ability to delay and stagger the launching of startup apps. Often times it isn't so much that you don't want the application to start when you boot up your computer — it's that you don't want 20 applications all launching at one time and leaving you waiting to reclaim control of your computer for 10 minutes. With Startup Delayer you can delete entries, edit entries and assign a delay time to each entry to stagger the load on your CPU.

MSConfig (Free)

Microsoft System Configuration Utility first made an appearance with the release of Windows 98. The Windows built-in default, MSConfig is a simple utility for managing several key startup-related configurations, including which services start and which applications launch when Windows boots. Beyond simply turning things on and off using checkboxes, you won't find many bells and whistles — but MSConfig is included in every version of Windows. It's as easy to use as typing "msconfig" in the run dialogue (Win+R) and unchecking the items you don't want to launch at startup.

Startup Control Panel (Free)

Startup Runs is a simple alternative Windows startup manager. It's a mere 34k, portable, and its options are diverse enough to help you manage most startup functions without offering so many options you could mess up your boot process with some overzealous clicking. You can disable startup applications by user, whole group or by registry entry. Deleted entries are stored for future restoration if you decide you actually did want the entry you removed.

CCleaner (Free)

CCleaner isn't strictly a startup management tool. Most people use it to clean out cookies and other undesirable elements and to tidy up the registry. A secondary but helpful tool in CCleaner: it also allows you to delete entries from the startup file — hence its inclusion here. It's a bit of a one trick pony, though; you can't alter, tweak or insert entries. You can only delete them. Still, it gets the job done if the task you want isn't advanced tweaking, but just to get that annoying program to stop popping up every time they reboot.

Can't believe your favourite tool didn't make it? Have a tip or trick for tweaking your startup routine? Let's hear about it in the comments.


    I use the startup manager feature in Glary Utilities. It has a clever feature where it shows you a rating of how necessary or unnecessary an app is to run at startup. The rating is based on user feedback and you can click on a link to go straight to a list of user comments on what the app is and what it does. It saves you googling to find out what exactly all those strangely named processes actually do.

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