Leadership

Bump performance in Windows 7 by trimming startup programs

Greg Shultz shows you several methods that you can use to investigate startup programs and eliminate some of them to improve performance.

The minimum memory (RAM) requirements for Microsoft Windows 7 are 1GB for the 32-bit versions and 2GB for the 64-bit versions. However, we all know that the operating system runs better with more RAM. If you're currently running Windows 7 on a system with only 1GB or 2GB of RAM, you know that the system can be slow at times -- especially when you are running extremely memory-intensive applications.

Of course the ultimate solution would be to add another GB of RAM to your system, but what if doing so is not feasible at this point in time? Are you stuck with a sluggish system? Fortunately, you are not, as you can bump up performance by trimming back startup programs that may not always be needed. By preventing unnecessary programs from automatically starting, you'll have more memory to spare for the programs that you do want to run.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you several methods that you can use to investigate those programs that run automatically at startup. I'll also show you how you can eliminate or at least temporarily prevent them from automatically starting up.

WMIC

You can investigate startup programs using a specially configured WMIC (Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line) command. WMIC (pronounced "WeeMek") is built in to the Windows operating system and allows you to tap into a wide variety of application systems, hardware components, and operating system subsystems. Using a WMIC command, you can easily create a very nice HTML-based report of those programs that automatically start up on your system. You can then print the report to have on hand as you investigate whether you can safely eliminate any of those programs.

To create the report, open a Command Prompt window and type the following command:

wmic startup get /format:hform > startupreport.htm

When you do, the report will be created in a matter of moments. To access the report, just type the following in the same Command Prompt.

startupreport.htm
You'll then see a report, similar to the one shown in Figure A, displayed in your web browser.

Figure A

Using a specially configured WMIC command you can create a nicely formatted report on startup programs.

As you can see, the report is set up in a table and uses color to make it very easy to read.

Resource and Performance Monitor

You can also investigate startup programs using Resource and Performance Monitor. Click the Start button and type Performance in the Search box. When the results appear, select Performance Information and Tools. When the Performance Information and Tools window appears, select the Advanced Tools. When the Advanced Tools window appears, scroll to the bottom and select Generate a system health report.

When the Resource and Performance Monitor window opens, the utility will begin compiling its report, which will take about 2-3 minutes. Once the report is compiled, expand the Software Configuration section and scroll down to the Startup Programs section, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

The Resource and Performance Monitor creates a much more concise report on the Startup Programs.

System Configuration

You can investigate and disable startup programs using System Configuration. Click the Start button and type System in the Search box. When the results appear, select System Configuration. When the System Configuration dialog box appears, select the Startup tab, as shown in Figure C. As you can see, the Startup tab provides a straightforward listing of the programs that automatically start up on your system.

Figure C

You can view and easily disable startup programs on the Startup tab of the System Configuration utility.
You can disable a startup program by clearing the adjacent text box. As you can see, the Startup tab makes it easy to keep track of those programs that you have disabled by recording the date and time they were disabled. When you click OK, you'll be prompted to restart the system to activate your changes, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

When you click OK, you'll be prompted to restart the system to activate your changes.

Autoruns

If you really, really want to delve into a deep investigation of startup programs, there is no better application than Autoruns from Windows Sysinternals and Mark Russinovich. This tool, shown in Figure E, provides a very comprehensive look at all the places in the operating system from which a program can be configured to automatically run.

Figure E

Autoruns provides a very comprehensive investigation into startup programs.

You can learn more about Autoruns on the Windows Sysinternals site. The program also comes with a detailed Help file.

What's your take?

Have you used any of these methods to examine and disable certain startup programs? If so, did you see a boost in performance? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

Also read:

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

56 comments
abdielt03
abdielt03

The Operations management will be responsible for data entry, accounts payable, payroll, grant report entry, managing the organizations HR, helping and creating organizational and program budgets in collaboration with the executive director.The operations management job candidate should have at least 3 years experience in Financial Management, or any other sort of management related to the needs of the company. A post graduate degree in management is essential. [url=http://www.operationscrossing.com/video/7051/Operations-Manager-Jobs-OperationsCrossing-Comin]operations manager employment[/url]

telemonster
telemonster

Thanks, for the article. I work with video editing and it is better to check what is running at the back before editing. http://www.tvc.kz

nyalexp
nyalexp

Win7 x64 Pro, as local admin.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

Apparently, those of you who have experienced the [b]Invalid XSL format (or) file name[/b] error are not typing the full command at the Windows Command Prompt and instead are using the wmic command prompt. If you begin by typing just [i]wmic[/i] you get to the wmic command prompt wmic:root\cli> If you then type [i]startup get /format:hform > startupreport.htm[/i] on the wmic command prompt you get the error [b]Invalid XSL format (or) file name[/b] However, if you type the whole command at the Command Prompt as in [b]C:\Users\Greg>wmic startup get /format:hform > startupreport.htm[/b] It works just fine Let me know if this works for you.

Wildfire365
Wildfire365

I know I have used the autoruns on a slow computer and found that every time the client logged on there was a hidden server program that they was sending out virus and malware on there and took most of the ram to where they were running so slow that you had to wait a good 10 min. for it to boot all the way. If it wasn't for that program I'd never found that on there computer.

alokgovil
alokgovil

Is there some Windows tool that shows how much time each start-up process took during the boot process? While Windows login prompt comes up fast enough, it takes the system several minutes before it becomes useable. User paulfx1 mentioned http://www.bootchart.org/ for linux. Is anything close to this available for Windows?

jwterry99
jwterry99

I did not type 'Performance' in the Start> Search Box as instructed above, rather I went directly to the report by typing 'perfmon /report' in the search box, bypassing the intermediate commands and going right to the Report, then scrolling down to Startup Programs.

squirrelpie0
squirrelpie0

Why not just use Ccleaner. It works very well. Is intuitive, has a couple other utility tools included and its FREE! Used it for years

OilcanHarry
OilcanHarry

Try " msconfig ", Just type msconfig, when it shows, right click and "run as admin" and this brings up the System configuration window. Select the tab "Startup"

jmcguire
jmcguire

This wmic startup get /format:hform > startupreport.htm didn't work for me either until I changed the ">" to "|" (the pipe symbol above the backslash) then it worked great.

steve_welch0
steve_welch0

the only thing mising is the open the cammand box box first and then do the instructions. I tried just the run box and I had the same problem as the rest of you then I tried to open the command box then run the same string and it worked. Open the Dos Command box before doing it. cmd.exe

amj2010
amj2010

year on end or you can use Soluto....

amj2010
amj2010

Invalid XSL format file name What the hell is going on?

wobblyo
wobblyo

Running Windows 7 32-bit SP1 and running command prompt as an administrator.

brianzion
brianzion

wmic startup get /format:hform > startupreport.htm all i get is invalid xsl format (or) file name autoruns works for me best way to shorten start up programs in my opinion

4him2
4him2

What Happened to the "Old" Start Cop App. It used to work from a Floppy. No Need to install. It doesn't work on Win7, but still does on XP. Kukunet

trog7
trog7

the "wmic startup get /format:hform > startupreport.htm " string produces an error as : " Invalid XSL format (or) file name " and yes the window is titled " ADMINISTRATOR: Command Prompt " just opening the CMD window didn't do anything when the string was run, forced it to jump back to the C:\ prompt with CD\ and ran the string again - which caused the system to pause for about 20 seconds, and then displayed that error. Also tried from Windows root, System & System32 folders ... same result.

chrisl317
chrisl317

This is the same thing we've been told since DOS and Win 3.1.

allargado
allargado

I use Ccleaner for that,as well as deleting all the temporary files and cleaning the registry.

viffergb
viffergb

Did as instructed above, but still get 'Invalid XSL format (or) filename'. I have McAffee as my 'AV' if that's of any help.

xangpow
xangpow

When I first started reading this my first thought was "Eh, I can do this with CCleaner." lol

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...that would make a difference, but yes, using the pipe (|) instead of the redirection (>) will perform that same operation, along with the benefit that it will load the report in Internet Explorer at the same time.

spdragoo
spdragoo

What, did you think we were typing the commands into the Search box? No, we opened up Command Prompt, [b]then[/b] typed the command in the Command Prompt box.

viffergb
viffergb

Yep, same result for me. Running Windows 7 Ultimate. 'Startupreport.htm' is just a blank page in Explorer!

Shrike49
Shrike49

I also get the same problem .. " Invalid XSL format (or) file name " Tried various combinations after checking the "/format:hform" parameter and the help!! WMIC StartUp displays the startup ok, and the redirection to "Startupreport.htm" works, but only creates a empty file. Followed the link for "Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line" and came to the conclusion that problem is in the "/format:hform" switch, but what I'm not sure. Like a lot of the "cmd" line stuff it's to much of a hassle to work out the correct format! Still it would be nice if I could get it into powershell and get it to work!! Meantime SysInternals Autorun does the job!!

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...When you run the command it will generate the file in the background. It won't do anything i.e. it won't automatically display the report. As soon as the report is compiled, you need to type "startupreport.htm" to get Internet Explorer to load and display the file. Did you perform this second step? Not sure why you are receiving the "Invalid XSL format (or) file name " error message on the second attempt. This error message is known to display in Windows 7 when you specify and XLS file as in "/format:hform.xsl" but thats not the case with the command line used here.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Pretty. But do we really care about Linux in this article? Not really.

spdragoo
spdragoo

Still just did a blank page. So far, the only app that's been able to open the file... is Notepad.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... could this be caused by a AV program. What are you using as your AV/Malware/Spyware program? Let me know.

dhoward
dhoward

Greg, I got the same error as trog7. "invalid XSL format (or) file name" and I am the admin.

trog7
trog7

trying to run the "startupreport.htm" opened the browser to blank page only ... perhaps you have a /(some) program(s) installed which I don't ... which allow the report to be generated.

paulfx1
paulfx1

About Windows but I get subjected to it all the time.

lordsmerdon
lordsmerdon

I'm also getting the "Invalid XLS format (or) file name error. None of the suggested steps up to now fix it. The only thing that works is "wmic startup" - which displays the list in the command window. Past that point, nothing works - neither the full command from the cmd prompt, nor starting WMIC then executing "startup" with the full argument. Changing redirect ">" to pipe "|" still gets me the error message (plus a new blank browser window for my trouble). "startup get /format:hform" from within the WMIC console also gives me the error. - I'm using Win7 Home Premium.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

... a little differently. Type this at the Windows Command Prompt: [b]wmic /output:startupreport.htm startup get /format:htable[/b] If that works, then try this command: [b]wmic /output:startupreport.htm startup get /format:hform[/b] Let me know how this format works.

spdragoo
spdragoo

Although when I try telling it to put it into the file, I now get the "Invalid XML" message.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...open a Command Prompt, type [i]wmic[/i] and press Enter. This will put you at the wmic command prompt wmic:root\cli> At the wmic command prompt, just type [i]startup get /format:hform[/i] you should see the raw HTML code appear. Let me know.

trog7
trog7

disabled the AV, still the same. tried the "|" pipe symbol and ditto result, but it immediately jumped to a new window in the browser - but still a blank page only. [and same error ...] Anyways, I usually run MSCONFIG, to check the start-ups ... and also use the "ctrl+alt+del" , or simply run Task-Manager, to literally look at what is running ... I see someone dug up an almost identical report you did for this same function for Win Vista ... and at least one response had exactly the errors reported! - as was stated Deja-Vu

Prendo
Prendo

Data does display to screen when the . . get /format . .. . is dropped.

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

...what is causing that error message. What happens if you just use the command wmic startup It should just display the same information on the command line. Let me know if that is the case and I'll move on from there. Thanks

spdragoo
spdragoo

I'm getting the same problem he did: the command appears to execute (ran command prompt as Administrator), & it generated the file??? but the file was a blank page.