“Autoruns” finds out what’s running in the background of your computer. Lots of things running slows down the system. The program for checking this out is free from

We speeded up Joy’s computer dramatically by installing Autoruns, and then uninstalling some of the 189 programs she was no longer using. What a difference a dump makes! (Who holds onto 189 programs, anyway? Joy, that’s who. Bob only holds onto 142 programs.)

Autoruns will seem kinda geeky when you first run it. There will be dozens of things — perhaps hundreds of things — running in the background of your machine. Each one will have a little checked box next to its name. Remove the check to stop it from running in the background. Unchecking the box does not delete the program, by the way, it’s still there, but now it won’t always be running in the background. It will still start up normally when you click on the program’s icon.

One of the programs on Joy’s computer was causing a chiming sound about every 30 seconds. Some “clever” programmer had decided this was an enhancement. We didn’t know which one it was (though we were suspicious of a calendar program we have from American Greetings) but it disappeared with the rest of the stuff removed and at least she doesn’t have to hear the chime anymore.

Once again, when using Autoruns, unchecking the box next to a program’s name does not delete that program, it just stops it from running automatically. If you’re in doubt, don’t uncheck the box. Tech types commonly refer to programs that keep running even when you don’t want them, as “Nazi programs.”

Another program that helps speed things up is the free CCleaner. You can also find this at It used to be very techie, but now has a default option that you just click to make it go. The default option will also remove your stored passwords and web history, however, so make sure to uncheck those options if you want to keep that information. And of course, you need a good anti-spyware and anti-virus program, because it might be malware that’s slowing your computer. We use Bullguard and Anti-Malware, but we also like AVG and Avast.


  1. Well, I’m back in business after my computer wouldn’t boot this morning. My last successful Win 7 restore point took me back to 7/31/2011, the day before I installed and ran Autoruns. I probably unchecked some wrong box. It could be that nasty Acronis image program (no longer used), a carryover from my Win 2000 days. Uninstall never has worked with that program and I thought by unchecking the half dozen references to it with Autoruns might take care of it, at least from hovering in memory. Not sure if that’s the culprit because I unchecked a few others as well. This is a task best left to the experts.

  2. Yup, the above was no fluke. Autoruns found 8 files that had Acronis adjacent to their list entries and I checked all those boxes. Then I rebooted and Win 7 took me to its repair routine. I finally had to go back to a restore point (7/31/2011).
    Acronis is one of my installed programs that I was never able to uninstall (I have to go thru the above mess) even with the help of the Acronis people.
    Len Miller