Review: Manage all your system's startup entries with Autoruns Portable

View and manage startup entries with this system configuration utility on steroids.

If you're the one who extricates friends and family from common (and easily avoided) PC trouble, Autoruns Portable might be just the tool to add to your USB toolkit. Portable Apps' portable version of freeware from Sysinternals is sort of like the msconfig utility in Windows, only much more powerful. Autoruns Portable displays and manages all the stuff that starts when a PC boots up: All the programs, services, Explorer shell extensions, browser objects, Winlogon notifications, and more. It lists programs in processing order, including not only those in your startup folder, but also Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. It allows separate access for Admin-level Users (including NT Authority for System, Local Service, and Network Service). Autoruns Portable can delete or disable entries (disabled entries are saved in a special folder) to prevent them from loading when you reboot. Experience, knowledge, and care (plus good backups) are recommended when using this powerful tool.

Autoruns Portable's busy user interface is dense with tabs for just about everything, starting with the default tab, Everything, and including Explorer, Codecs, Boot Execute, Known DLLs, Network Providers, Sidebar Gadgets, Image Hijacks, and Scheduled Tasks among its 17 other tabs (like the tab said, "everything"). Selecting any tab displays its entries in boot order in an info-packed, dense list view. As much as its prime functionality, Autoruns Portable's displays require experience to comprehend: This simply isn't a tool for beginners. But those who know their way around Windows will definitely appreciate the abundant data, concise descriptions, file paths, and other attributes Autoruns Portable displays and, even more, its power to disable and remove entries. In our tests, we quickly found a Microsoft service we don't use and unchecked its Autorun box. Upon reboot, it didn't load. It's easy but very effective.

Like many tools, Autoruns Portable can do more harm than good in the wrong hands: Be careful, be sure, and always back up your system before you start poking around all the stuff this sharp and accurate tool reveals. For those who know what they're doing, this is a very useful, information-packed tool.

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