A lot of great utilities have come out of Sysinternals, such as Process Explorer, and Autoruns is definitely among the top of the list. It’s extremely useful for anyone that deals with bogged down systems on a regular basis. It will essentially lay out all of the items that start up with Windows, and goes way beyond the things you’ll find in the built-in msconfig tool. Plus it can filter out the built-in Windows/Microsoft entries so that you can jump right into the third-party culprits.
As you can see from the screenshot above this utility covers just about every kind of startup item you can imagine. What makes Autoruns all the more interesting is that it supposedly displays the items in the order that Windows processes them. I don’t know of any other tool like this that is able to say in what order the startup items are processed, but I’ll take their word that Autoruns does it. After all, who would know better than Microsoft?
Autoruns is packaged up into a ZIP file that, once extracted, can be executed from a USB drive. It eats up a mere 1.3MB of space… which makes it the perfect utility for troubleshooting those computers that have 50 different toolbars installed. If you’re reading this site and you don’t recall dealing with a machine like that I’d probably say you’re suffering from selective memory loss.
Autoruns Homepage (Windows only; Freeware)