Startup Program

What Does Startup Program Mean?

A startup program is a program or application that runs automatically after the system has booted up. Startup programs are usually services that run in the background. Services in Windows are analogous to the daemons in Unix and Unix-like operating systems.


Startup programs are also known as startup items or startup applications.

Techopedia Explains Startup Program

A startup program is usually installed in order to monitor a device such as a printer or, in the case of software, to check for updates. Some of these programs are part of the operating system and most run in the background; in Windows, some of these can be seen as an icon in the taskbar.

In Windows versions prior to Windows 8, the list of startup programs could be found in the “Startup” tab of the System Configuration dialog box, which can be activated by typing “msconfig” in the Run dialog box of the Start menu. In Windows 8, the list is found in the “Start-up” tab of Task Manager. System Configuration now only contains a link to the latter.

Here, users may opt to disable third-party startup programs that they believe are not necessary, as these consume resources. Administrator rights may be required to do so.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.