Disabling startup programs to improve performance

If there is a phrase that gets thrown out a lot when talking about boot times under Windows, that would be “Windows rot”, which describes the supposed degradation in performance over time, especially when it comes to booting. Now, I don’t know if Windows rot is real or not: there are valid arguments to be made both for its existence and its non existence and there haven’t really been any studies about it. There is, however, a kernel of truth to it: many Windows applications love running at startup and residing in the taskbar. Sometimes they have good reason to, others not so much. For example, you may want an antivirus to run at startup and reside in the taskbar, but other programs, like some that come with drivers (looking at you, GeForce Experience) you can do without. Thankfully, disabling startup programs can slightly improve boot times and has never been easier than ever starting with Windows 8.

To be perfectly clear, following this guide will not yield magic results or anything and is not going to make your aging computer a lot faster. The only way to improve boot performance (and not only boot performance) is switching to an SSD as your Windows drive, as we have proven in this previous article. I’m afraid there’s no magic bullet around the basic fact that a

Open Task Manager

Since Windows 8, startup programs can be disabled from Task Manager. To open it, you can either use Ctrl + Shift + Esc or right-click the taskbar and select Task Manager.

There are a few tabs you can choose from here, but we’re interested in the one labeled Start-up. Click it and you’ll be shown a list of startup programs, including those you’ve added to the Start-up folder, but not those added via Task Scheduler. Refer to that article if you want to know how to disable startup programs that require high privileges.

Pay attention to the Start-up impact column, which gives an indication on how much a specific program influences boot times. It’s a good idea to disable programs with a Medium or High startup impact, especially if you don’t use them or you could just run them manually, as is the case with Google Chrome.

And before you ask, no, the Last BIOS time bit on the upper right corner does not indicate how long your computer took to boot, but rather how long the hardware initialization procedure lasted before the computer was able to start booting Windows. I wish I had a computer that boots in 9 seconds.

Disabling programs

To disable a programs, simply right-click its entry in the list and select Disable. That was easy, right?

Or, if you’re feeling really lazy, just highlight the entry with a left click and then choose Disable in the lower right corner of the window. Uhh… Now that you think about it, this second method requires pretty much the same amount of effort as the other one. Never mind then.


About Andrea Luciano Damico 137 Articles
Andrea Luciano Damico is a freelance translator from Italy. Among his interests are linguistics, technology, video games, and generally being a chill guy. He runs Let's Translate.it and Tech4Freelancers.net.