Many of the programs you install on your system automatically configure themselves to launch at start-up, often invisibly. The truly essential ones, such as firewall and antivirus products, generally run as Windows services, working efficiently in the background. Other less important products like media players really don't need to be running constantly, if at all. These extra applications slow the boot process and then suck up system resources and CPU cycles.
There are many ways a program can launch at start-up. The System Configuration Utility rounds up all of the start-up programs in a single display. Launch it by choosing Run from the Start menu and entering msconfig. The Startup tab displays a complete list of the programs that launch at start-up. To disable any one of them reversibly, just uncheck the box at left. It should be safe to disable any of them, as only nonessential programs appear on the Startup tab. But leave the adjacent Services tab alone—disable some of those entries and you may disable Windows completely.
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