As time goes you accumulate updates and install new software. Many of these programs/updates take the liberty to plonk themselves on your list of startup programs, meaning that your PC runs these programs every time you switch it on, whether you use them or not. I found the HTC Sync software for my phone doing this for instance. Even worse was that it never opened up in a window, so I had no idea it was taking up system resources - it was just quietly running in the background after I installed it.
That wasn't the only thing. I found that Adobe Acrobat, CS5 and Google updates (see below) were all running on start up. Unfortunately many programs you install run on startup by default until you deactivate them. Periodically then you need to manually toggle which programs you want to run at startup.
[Disclaimer: Tech buffs or programmers may find this obvious, but this is for the remaining 99.9% of PC users who don't have degrees in computer science.]
Click the Start button. In the input box where it says Search programs and files, type in msconfig.exe
A shortcut for msconfig.exe should appear at the top of the start menu as you type (highlighted in blue). Click this shortcut.
Note: For Windows XP and older simply click Start, then click Run. In the dialog box type in msconfig.exe and click Run.
A window called System Configuration will open. Click the Startup tab. Here you will see all the programs that run when your computer starts up. Every box that is checked means that the corresponding program is running at startup:
The ones checked above look important, so best to leave them checked. As a rule of thumb, if you don't understand what the Startup Item does, don't deactivate it. However, when I scroll down the list here is what I see:
From the pic above you can see Startup Items relating to Adobe, Microsoft Office and Google. These were not Startup Items when I first bought my machine, so I will uncheck all of them:
In 99% of cases, you would do well to eliminate all third party applications that aren't critical to startup. Ask yourself: did this program come with my machine when I first bought it? If not, uncheck it. With all the unessential programs unchecked, click OK.
All the programs that were needlessly clogging your machine will now only open on command and not during startup. Start your machine again and you should immediately see a difference.