Need Traffic Control on Boot-up? Call the Cops!
by Alan German
long-time fan of utility programs from PC Magazine so,
when I saw Startup Cop Pro advertised as a way to control
applications loading on boot-up, I couldn't resist giving
this program a workout.
However, there is a downside from the good old days. PC
Mag's utilities are no longer free; one has to subscribe
in order to download the software. The good news is that
an annual subscription is only US$ 20.00 (and sometimes
you can find a special offer that includes a subscription
to the electronic version of the magazine). Once
subscribed, you can download any of the magazine's
extensive collection of utility programs, and subscribe
to a listserver to receive notification of new releases.
Other options include purchasing three utilities for $US
10.00, or a single download for $US 6.00.
Downloading and installing Startup Cop Pro gives you your
very own Sheriff's badge - a program icon in the form of
a five-pointed star. Running Startup Cop, produces a
colourful list of programs available for startup by the
operating system, and flags those currently running. The
table provides a range of information such as the program
name, the software developer, the threat level (e.g.
Major Vendor vs. Spyware), where the startup entry is
located (e.g. startup directory vs. registry), and which
users can access the program. A set of drop-down menus
allows the list of programs to be filtered by category.
Startup Cop Pro informing the user that the Zone-Alarm
firewall loads from a Registry entry at startup
a specific filename in the list provides further detail
about the selected item, including the file path and
command line entry, a link to the program developer's web
site, or a set of related Google search results (if you
have an open Internet connection). Even the basic
information can be very useful. For example, on my
system, the program prpcui.exe (one of those with the
intuitive names!), is evidently Intel software -
"SpeedStep™ Technology User Interface". I
still don't know what it actually does, but I'm pretty
sure I need/want it.
Changing the status of a given program is simplicity
itself. Click on the program's name to highlight the
entry and toggle between Disable and Enable using menu
buttons in the form of red and green traffic lights.
Having trouble with a renegade program that decided it
just had to be loaded at boot-up? No problem, just
disable it and it won't trouble you again. If you are
really brave, you can use the Delete button. And, if you
really know what you are doing, you can manually add a
new entry to the table.
A concise, but extremely informative, help system can
guide you through any such process. The help menu
provides a series of screens with coloured illustrations
of all the various menus and controls for the program,
together with clear information on the use of each of the
Changing Startup Cop's options is just a matter of
checking or unchecking various options in a dialogue box,
including some for the format for the display of the
program list, and if/how to check for and obtain program
updates from PC Magazine. The latter consist of revised
entries for the database of material to be displayed for
A similar menu allows for changing the settings for how a
given program is to be allowed to run. In addition to
running normally, a program can be set to run at a
specific time or on certain days; program launch can be
delayed in time or until after another program is
running, or a network connection has been established. No
doubt, great stuff - if you need such features.
One item that you may wish to modify from the default
settings is "Check for updates" by changing
this from "At program startup" to "Do not
check for updates". If you don't have a permanent
connection to the Internet on boot-up, Startup Cop will
bug you with a request for access to the web in order to
seek out updates. By choosing not to allow this you
effectively take manual control of the updating process.
Since the program is not likely to be needed on a daily
basis to control errant software, such a course of action
is probably appropriate for most of us.
In fact, one interesting wrinkle in this entire process
is that there is no entry in Startup Cop's program list
for Startup Cop Pro itself - so, who polices the
policeman? I suppose this is reasonable. The program
actively monitors startup entries and will issue a prompt
if software attempts to add a new entry. Obviously, it
has to be running in order to function like this in real
time. Also, if one has set some specific options, such as
timing, then the program has to run every time the
machine boots up in order to control the startup of these
But, if all you want to do is to occasionally stop an
errant program from loading, it's a little intrusive for
Startup Cop to load itself into memory all the time. One
way to deal with this is to uninstall the program (rather
a Draconian solution!) The documentation suggests that if
Startup Cop Pro is uninstalled, any disabled items can be
re-enabled so that nothing will be lost. But, another
method of preventing Startup Cop from loading
automatically, is to use a different utility to turn it
off! So, let's call a good cop
In the past, I have used StartUp Control Panel to disable
errant programs from loading. Version 2.7 of this program
is available from PUB II as SRTCPLEX.ZIP. But, also check
the associated files STRTCPL.ZIP and SRTCPL27.ZIP since
each of these contains the instructions as a readme.txt
StartUp Control Panel is more or less a no-frills version
(some would say efficiently programmed version) of
Startup Cop Pro. It was written by Mike Lin, now a
computer science student at MIT. He has written several
utilities and makes them available on the web. Mike has
quite a sense of humour about his programs.
Tongue-firmly-in-cheek, he lists a Microsoft Knowledge
Base bug report for one of his utilities on the awards'
page of his web site! Mike's site at http://www.mlin.net is well worth a visit.
This freeware (small donation requested) utility provides
a simple screen display with a series of tabs, including
Startup (user), Startup (common), HKLM/Run, and HKCU/Run,
that list programs set to start for the current user, all
users, or load from registry entries under HKEY_LOCAL
MACHINE and HKEY_CURRENT_USER. Check boxes control if
programs listed under these tabs are enabled or disabled,
and right clicking on a program name brings up a menu
with a variety of options including edit the program's
properties, delete an entry, and run now.
It turns out that Startup Cop Pro is loaded from a
registry entry under the HKCU/Run tab. Removing the check
mark in the box is a simple way to temporarily prevent
the program from running at startup. One can always run
it manually, from the on-screen icon set up during
installation, or by running the executable,
StartupCopPro.exe, from its installed location. Of
course, as noted above, such a course of action will
limit the program's functionality.
So, if you have a renegade program (or two) on your
machine that insists on loading, taking up memory,
resources, and task bar real estate, take control. For a
few dollars, you can get the all-singing, all-dancing
Startup Cop Pro (and the opportunity to download more of
PC Mag's great utilities). Or, log onto PUB II and
download the freeware program: Startup Control Panel.
Either program can readily disable specific software from
loading at boot up.
Startup Cop Pro
US$6.00 to 20.00 subscription
Start Up Control Panel
Freeware; donation requested
PUB II - Area 68 - Miscellaneous Utilities
SRTCPLEX.ZIP (38 KB)
Originally published: November, 2005
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The opinions expressed in these reviews
do not necessarily represent the views of the
Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.