WinPatrol, one of my favorite free tools, gives me a lot of protection for Internet Explorer. It’s also a great way to control which programs start up automatically on my computers.
It gives me the ability to disable programs from starting when I start Windows without actually removing the code that would make them start! In other words, I can turn off the auto-startup on a program-by-program basis.
If I change my mind about one I’ve prevented from starting, it’s as simple as opening WinPatrol and putting a check in the startup box for that program.
Of course, I can easily completely remove the program from the auto-startup list, too.
WinPatrol also has an Internet Explorer "browser helper object" screen that shows the BHO’s that are installed and lets me remove the ones I don’t want. What’s a BHO?
Browser Helper Objects are add-on’s to Internet Explorer. They can be good or bad — and they are started up automatically witn Internet Explorer. No, wait — Internet Explorer is integrated into Windows XP — Browser Helper Objects start automatically with Windows!
Some like the BHO from Adobe that lets us read Adobe Reader .pdf files while in Internet Explorer are good. Add-on toolbars like the Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer are also browser helper objects (By the way, I recommend the Google Toolbar for IE).
Other BHO’s might not be so innocent and friendly, though. For example, many adware and spyware programs set themselves up in Windows as browser helper objects. This lets them be sure they will be started automatically when Windows starts. They also often set up multiple versions that check to make sure the others are running, too, and start them up if they stop — trying to protect themselves from removal.
WinPatrol is free. There is also an inexpensive information service that is available as a one-time purchase — and includes a multi-computer license. With this "WinPatrol Plus" purchase, you get easy access (from inside WinPatrol) to their online database to tell you about many different programs.
In other words, instead of guessing "is this a safe program or not," you can look up the answer for many programs. That’s a lot better than just searching Google, which may have correct and incorrect — or even wrong and misleading information deliberately planted by the "bad guys."
I recommend WinPatrol because of its power and the protection that it gives computers. I use it on all my computers.
WinPatrol starts with Windows, runs all the time, and checks every couple minutes to see if anything has changed — and asks what you want to do if changes have been made (such as a program setting itself up to automatically start or as a browser helper object).
Read more about WinPatrol on my WinPatrol review page