Required Startup Programs–Which Ones Can I Remove

A quick question from a reader:

I’m running Vista 32-bit and would like to know which programs are the only ones absolutely required for startup. Thanks.

Turning off unnecessary startup programs is a great way to speed up your computer. If you do it wrong, though, some things might not work right.

The short answer is that no startup programs is required. Sure, Windows requires lots of things to start properly, but everything that’s absolutely mandatory starts as a service. Unless you’re familiar with which services you need, you shouldn’t disable any of them.

You might, however, want some of them to start. Generally, those little startup apps don’t slow your computer down a noticeable amount, and they occasionally make your computer work a bit better. Looking at my own computer, I have left the following programs to start automatically:

  • Microsoft IntelliPoint and Microsoft IntelliType Pro. These give my keyboard and mouse extra functionality. If I did disable them, my keyboard and mouse would still work, though.
  • RAID Event Monitor. This watches my computer’s hard disk for problems.
  • NWiz. This is NVidia’s graphics card software. My computer would run fine without it, but I haven’t bothered to disable it because I’ve never seen it cause a problem.
  • Google Update. This keeps my Google software (like Chrome) up-to-date. Wouldn’t it be nice if one piece of software could get all my updates?
  • Adobe CS4 Service Manager. This just makes sure Photoshop keeps working.
  • Virtual CloneDrive. This lets me mount ISO files like a physical CD or DVD.
  • GrooveMonitor Utility. Helps me with Microsoft Groove (something I need for my work).
  • Java(TM) Platform SE 6 U15. This running in the background just lets some website start up a bit faster.
  • SMax4PNP Application. A tool used by my soundcard.
  • Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Reader and Acrobat Manager. This isn’t required, but when I open a PDF, this lets it open a bit faster.
  • Microsoft Office OneNote. I use OneNote, and having this startup automatically allows me to start it quicker.
  • Ultramon. A tool for managing multiple monitors.

And I’ve disabled some apps:

  • Dropbox. A tool for storing files on the Internet.
  • AOL Service Libraries. Good ole AOL instant messenger, which I no longer use.
  • InstallShield Update Services. This downloads updates to the update software itself. It’s incredibly annoying.
  • QuickTime. This would allow QuickTime videos to play a bit faster, but I rarely watch QuickTime videos, so who cares?
  • Steam. A service for downloading games online. I used it once, and I don’t need it always running in the background.

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