You may recognize many items that appear in the Program Files folder. These might include, say, an IM app that you use for chatting once a week or a photo-editing program that you touch only on weekends. Uncheck those items that you clearly don't need to run when you boot up. But you'd be wise to do more research before altering anything that's in a system folder or that seems mysterious.
Check out System Mechanic 6 Pro
, which has a start-up manager that provides detailed information about the given app or process running so that you can make a decision. You may never use some of what you see in the Startup list.
To uninstall unwanted programs, go to the Windows XP Start menu and pick the Control Panel, then choose "Add or remove programs." This window lists your installed software, as well as the size of each application and how often you actually use it. Just click the Remove or Change/Remove button next to any item you want to banish from your PC. For more tips, see this Weekend Project to help speed up Windows XP
If you suspect that any mysterious items lurking in Startup or within your list of programs may be malware, get thee to the latest versions of security tools that fit your needs. See the CNET Security Center
for reviews and news about fending off viruses, spyware, and more.