From a basic cleanup task to removing processes started by malware, Autoruns can be a very useful tool in the hands of an experienced user. Not because it’s hard to use, but an individual with little or no technical skills could remove useful auto-start entries such as system services or applications which could even render a system useless.
Either way, Autoruns is a highly capable free startup monitor whenever you need to disable certain entries configured to auto-start with Windows.
Installation & Requirements
Autoruns has a speedy installation with no complicated settings. The download includes Autorunsc a command-line version and a portable version is also available as a separate download. The small utility runs on all Windows client versions from XP up and all server versions starting with Windows Server 2003.
Autoruns has a functional interface with many tabs. The developers didn’t focus too much on looks since the utility was created to provide information, and there’s certainly a lot of that. Unless you’ve used a similar application before, you might be surprised at how many processes are set to automatically start with your Windows OS.
The Everything tab, which obviously displays everything can be a little overwhelming, even for seasoned users. That is why Autoruns has so many tabs. So you can see auto-start items organized in categories such as: Logon (includes the Windows Startup folder, standard program launch locations and the Run Registry keys), Explorer (shows Explorer toolbars, browser helper objects, shell extensions, active setup executions and shell execute hooks), Internet Explorer (shows BHOs, IE extensions and toolbars), Services (all system services that automatically start at system boot), Drivers ( all active kernel-mode drivers registered on your system), Scheduled Tasks (tasks configured via Task Scheduler to start at system boot or logon) and many other categories.
Besides the category-based layout, you can further refine your view of auto-starting locations using “Filter Options” from the Options menu. You can eliminate all Windows entries (enabled by default) and even all Microsoft entries which is very useful when searching for malware-enabled processes. Other filtering options include showing only per-user locations, verifying code signatures (displays unsigned images highlighted in red) and include empty locations (will also show locations with no entries).
Autoruns also lets you easily manage all listed entries. You can disable an entry by simply unchecking it or use the right-click menu to perform other operations. From the context menu you can delete the selected item (this means it will never auto-start again), go to its Registry entry or its location, view its properties but also search it online.
– Fast and easy installation.
– There are also command-line and portable versions available.
– Tabbed, functional interface that shows auto-starting items organized in categories such as services, drivers, logon, explorer, scheduled tasks, known DLLs, Explorer, Internet Explorer, codecs, image hijacks, network providers and others.
– For any selected item in the list, users can disable, delete, go to its Registry entry or application location, view it in Process Explorer (if installed), access its Properties or look it up online.
– Thorough Help documentation.
– Not suitable for the inexperienced user. In the wrong hands this utility could cause serious damage to the system.
Autoruns is a powerful tool that lets you see pretty much anything that’s set to automatically start at system boot. It’s not just useful to find and remove processes started by malware, you can also use it to do a bit of PC maintenance. There’s a good chance you’ll find in that list some entries you don’t need anymore or may have been left behind uninstalled software.