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Operating Systems

Free program brings order to Windows' startup chaos

Startup Delayer lets you prioritize the programs that start automatically with Windows, giving you a faster start to your workday.

Sometimes I wonder how Microsoft gets away with it. I mean, you start your PC and every program that loads with Windows tries to be first in line for your precious processing cycles.

So that little specialty utility you use about once a month is wresting resources away from the programs that really need to start right away, such as your antivirus app. You'd think the company that makes the OS would let you set the order of your auto-start programs.

Last April, I wrote about Vista's Software Explorer, which provides more information than the System Configuration utility (Msconfig) about your PC's autostart apps. Software Explorer lets you disable or remove programs from your startup list, but it doesn't let you decide which to open first.

That's where R2 Studios' free Startup Delayer comes in. The utility gives you the ability to determine the order of your startup programs. You can even set the number of seconds each app waits before starting or let Startup Delayer do the timing for you.

Startup Delayer main window
Set the order of and delay between your startup apps with Startup Delayer. R2 Studios

I've been using Startup Delayer's Safe Mode, which prevents you from deleting any of your startup apps or making other system changes. Safe Mode also hides the system files on the list. To see your complete startup list and be able to delete some, choose Startup Delayer's Advanced Mode in its Settings window.

Startup Delayer Settings dialog
Choose between Startup Delayer's Safe Mode or Advanced Mode. R2 Studios

I didn't spend more than a couple of minutes rearranging the order of the programs on my startup list and setting what I considered appropriate delays between each. The next time I booted my PC, I was surprised how quickly Windows' hour glass disappeared. In the icon's place was a small horizontal bar at the top of the screen showing the startup program currently opening.

The Startup Delayer toolbar
View a progress bar as each of your startup apps loads on Startup Delayer's toolbar. R2 Studios

There are plenty of nice touches in the program, including the ability to change the delay between each app's startup by dragging a bar on the timeline at the bottom of the main Startup Delay window. You can also start over or deactivate Startup Delayer with a single click.

Startup Delayer isn't the most elegant Windows utility you'll come across, but it sure will jumpstart your day.