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Trash Apps
(Dammit, quit loading up and bothering me everytime I start my computer!!)

If you have unwanted programs loading and bugging you at startup, here's how to get rid of them.
Trash App Exorcism Tutorial for Windows

Trash Apps infesting your StartUp folder

When "trash" programs run themselves at start-up, they typically do it by placing a shortcut to themselves into your Windows StartUp folder, usually located at c:\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp\. (If you can't find its entry there, skip down to the next paragraph.) Usually deleting the StartUp shortcut and the program it points to is enough to make it stop bothering you.

EVIL APPS: Particularly nettlesome programs will keep re-installing themselves into your StartUp folder no matter how many times you delete them! This is where a dummy executable comes in handy. Replace the trash app with the dummy executable (copy over the unwanted app), leaving the StartUp entry intact. This will usually trick the installer into thinking it's installed! As an added measure, make the dummy executable read-only. Viola, the trash app is history!

Trash Apps infesting your win.ini file

Some trash apps, particularly those that fancy themselves device drivers (censorware apps like to do this) will put references to themselves in your system's win.ini file. They are loaded by a line in this file starting with either "load=" or "run=", similar to the following:


To take care of this, open your win.ini file (normally located at C:\Windows\win.ini) in Notepad or another text editor, and delete the line starting with load= or run= that loads your trash app. They are usually near the beginning of the file. Restart the computer, and the app will not load on startup anymore.

If you don't want to actually delete the entry (e.g. if you are trying to determine which of several entries is the trash app), you can instead place a semicolon (;) at the beginning of the offending line. This will make Windows ignore it while giving you the ability to restore it later.

Note: Don't delete anything if you don't know what it is. It may sometimes be a legitimate program, or a device driver used by your system.

Trash Apps infesting your Registry

Been all through your StartUp folder and win.ini and couldn't find it? Sometimes a particularly nasty trash app will install a reference to itself, not in your StartUp folder (where you'd expect to find it), but in your system Registry, where even brave men fear to tread. So, if a trash app is running at start-up, and it's not in your StartUp folder or win.ini, it's in your Registry. Here's how to get rid of it:

1) Open REGEDIT. It should have been installed when you installed Windows. You can most easily do this by clicking Start > Run, and entering REGEDIT in the box. (Click OK). The Registry Editor window will appear.

If you have used Registry Editor before and are comfortable with it, skip the following paragraph. If you are a newbie or you've never used REGEDIT before, read on--standard warnings and stuff.

You may have heard somewhere that editing the Registry is dangerous. Incidentally, this is why so many makers of trash apps place the start-up information here-- many users have never heard of the Registry, let alone edited it. The Registry is an important part of your system, so don't go randomly changing stuff in there if you don't know what you are doing--this is how problems happen, and this is why people tell you that you shouldn't go messing with your Registry. Carefully follow the instructions below and it will be a very safe process. Randomly mess around and change/delete stuff, and you may end up reinstalling Windows--which isn't much fun.

2) Once in Registry Editor, press the F3 key to bring up the Find dialogue. Type "RunServices" in the box. This probably won't find your trash app, but it will bring us to about the right location in the Registry. When the Find completes, you should have a folder named RunServices highlighted in the left pane, with several similar-sounding folders (Run, RunOnce, etc.) listed nearby. Click on the first one, "Run". The righthand pane will list the applications that run at start-up. Under "Name" will be the program names, and under "Data" will be the path and filename of the program.

Look carefully at the list and see if you find the program that is annoying you. If you find it, highlight it and use Edit > Delete to remove it. If you don't see it, cycle through the other nearby Run-like folders (there may be several) and look for them there. Be careful not to delete anything unless you are sure it is your trash app.

If you have looked through all the visible "Run"-like folders and *still* haven't found the trash app, press F3 again to find the next RunServices folder, and repeat the steps above. On some Windows setups, particularly where several people share the same machine, there will be several of each Run folder. Continue in this manner until you receive a message such as "Finished searching through the registry." You should have found it by now!

3) Close Registry Editor. The next time you restart your computer, the trash app will not bother you!
Why Trash Apps?

It's the newest fad. Programs that have one goal and one goal only: To forcibly install themselves on your computer, intentionally making themselves hard to find and harder to eliminate, and annoy you every time you start your computer. Why do these programs subversively install themselves into your computer's Startup files so they continually pester you, over and over, every time you reboot? Ususally as some form of promotion or advertising--it will either install a program that somehow makes someone else money when you use it, or install some kind of stub that will beg you and beg you and beg you to install such a program. Some good examples:

Some even worse examples are TSADBOT and similar ad-delivery programs (their sole purpose is to worm their way onto your computer and assault you with paid advertising all day!), and trojan horses such as NetBus and Back Orifice.

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