Cougar Mountain Software Support Productivity Tools

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Stopping programs from running at start-up is especially daunting because there is no single place you can go to halt them all. Some run because they're in the Startup folder, others because they're part of logon scripts, others because of Registry settings, and so on. But with a little bit of perseverance, you should be able to keep them from running.
 
  • Start by cleaning out your Startup folder. Find it in C:\Documents and Settings\username\Start Menu\Programs\Startup, where username is your Windows logon name. Delete the shortcuts of any programs you don't want to run on start-up. As with any shortcuts, when you delete them, you're deleting only the shortcut, not the program itself. (You can also clear out the start-up items by going to Start > Programs > Startup, then right-clicking items you want to remove.)

     
 
  • Next, clean out your Scheduled Tasks folder. Go to C:\Windows\Tasks, and delete the shortcuts of any programs that you don't want to run automatically on a schedule.

    Note: You can bypass all the programs in your Startup folder on an as-needed basis. To stop XP from loading any programs in the Startup folder, hold down the Shift key during bootup. No programs in the Startup folder will run, but the items will still remain there so that they will start up as they would normally the next time you boot.

     
Using the system configuration utility
Taking the previous steps will stop the obvious programs from running at start-up, but it won't kill them all. The best tool for disabling hidden programs that run on start-up is the System Configuration Utility. To run it, type msconfig at a command prompt, and press Enter. (If that doesn't work, first do a search for msconfig.exe; when you find the file, double-click it.)
 
  • To stop a program from running at start-up, go to the Startup tab in this utility, and uncheck the box next to the program. It can sometimes be difficult to understand what programs are listed on the Startup tab. Some, such as America Online, are clearly labeled. But often, you'll see a phrase or collection of letters, such as fs20. That's the name of the running file--such as fs20.exe, which is Free Surfer mk II, an excellent free pop-up killer.

     
  • To get more information about a listing, expand the width of the Command column near the top of the Startup tab. Expand it enough and you'll see the start-up command that the program issues, including its location, such as C:\Program Files\Free Surfer\fs20.exe. The directory location should be another hint to help you know the name of the program.

     
  • When stopping programs from running at start-up, it's best to stop them one at a time rather than in groups. You want to make sure that you're not causing any system problems by stopping them. So stop one, then restart your PC. If it runs fine, then stop another and restart. Continue doing this until you've cleared all the programs you don't want to run automatically.

     
Each time you uncheck a box and restart your PC, you'll get a warning that you've used the System Configuration Utility to disable a program from starting automatically. If you don't want to see that warning, disable it by checking the box in the dialog itself.

After you've used the system configuration utility to identify programs that run on start-up, you may want to try disabling them from with the programs themselves. So run each program that starts automatically, and see if you can find a setting that allows you to prevent it from running on start-up.

 

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(We are not Cougar Mountain Software in Boise, we take their excellent product and make it better.   We offer software products, enhanced reports, services, training and hardware that maximize the value out of this powerful accounting program.  We have been customizing solutions for Cougar Mountain since 1990.  We are located in California.