Windows autoloading programs: You don't want too many, but you may want these

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You can stop Windows from autoloading programs with a little trimming in the Task Manager.

After reading my article on stopping autoloading programs, Quietone asked “What programs are really needed during start up?”

Most Windows PCs autoload a ridiculous number of programs every time you boot. And as I explained in the previous article, disabling most of them could improve performance. The programs will still be there when you want them, but they wouldn’t be hanging around in RAM, using up resources, when they’re not needed.

But which autoloaders should you not disable? The easy answer is those that really do need to run all of the time to do their jobs. I can’t tell you exactly what they are, because I don’t know your work habits or your hardware. But I can give you a pretty good idea.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to]

Antivirus: This is the one absolute must. When your PC is on, it needs protection.

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Battery monitor: If you have a laptop, it probably came with an autoloader that displays your battery’s charge in the lower-right corner of the screen. That’s useful.

Cloud storage and syncing: Do you use Dropbox, OneDrive, GoogleDrive, iDrive, or a similar service? If you do, it won’t work without its autoloader.

Communication tools with which you may receive calls: If you call people on Skype, but no one ever calls you, you can simply load Skype when you need it. (You might also want to consider finding new friends.) But if you expect other people to call you, Skype needs to autoload. The same goes for other VoIP, IRC, and similar real-time communication systems.

Hardware-dependent programs: This is the toughest one. Your audio subsystem, for instance, may require an autoloading program to supplement its driver. Or, even if it can work without the autoloader, it might work better with one. This may require some experiments.

Other programs that need to work in the background: Some programs that you don’t need but might want, may require autoloading. For me, that would be Steve Miller’s PureText, which allows me to convert formatted text into plain text as I paste it.

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