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What is Startup Impact in Task Manager and How is it Calculated?

You would have noticed a column named “Startup Impact” in Task Manager’s Startup tab in Windows 8 and higher. But what does “Startup Impact” mean and how is it assessed?

Task Manager Startup tab lists all startup apps loading from Run, RunOnce registry keys and from the user’s Startup folder, and allows the user to disable unneeded startup programs. Task Manager also displays the “Startup Impact” of each startup program. The Impact rating is based on the program’s CPU and disk usage at startup.

Per Microsoft: Startup apps (Windows), the following criteria is applied to determine the Startup Impact values for each startup entry.

So, OneDrive.exe (OneDrive client) in the screenshot above clearly qualifies for being in the “High Impact” category.

It shows the Impact as “Not measured” for entries pointing to a missing file, or haven’t clocked a single run yet, via Startup. Impact shows up as “None” for disabled entries in the Startup tab.

How does Windows Measure the “Startup Impact”?

The “Startup Impact” is actually calculated by the Windows Diagnostic Infrastructure. Windows runs a boot trace every time you start your computer, and the results of which are stored in an event trace file named “Bootckcl.etl” in this directory:

C:\Windows\System32\WDI\LogFiles

If you want to analyze this file, you need Windows Performance Analyzer (WPA) installed in your system. This tool is part of the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit which can be downloaded from the Microsoft site. WPA is an extremely useful tool to troubleshoot slow boot and performance issues in the system.

Based on the boot trace, Windows also generates separate XML files in the “LogFiles\StartupInfo” directory which contains details about each startup item, their start time, CPU time as well as the Disk Usage at startup for each user. The XML file is separate for each user, and the file name includes the user account’s SID, such as the following:

S-1-5-21-1792754669-1944030512-1073076190-1003_StartupInfo3.xml

You can open these files using Notepad, and check out the readings there. To find the appropriate file for your user account, you need to first find your user account SID by typing whoami /user in a Command Prompt window. There are several ways to find out your SID, but whoami is probably the easiest.

CPU usage units in microseconds. 1000 μs is 1 ms

This information is what is queried and used by Task Manager to populate the “Startup Impact” column.

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