Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

What's this thing called "PROGRAM" in my Start menu?

I found something called Program in my Start menu. It is enabled and has two
options to enable or disable. No other information is shown. My PC is
brand-new – not even a month old; HP H81455 desktop with Windows 8, Pro. Any
chance you might know what that is? On the Start menu is the one in the Task
Manager. I’ve done a complete system reinstall using the recovery disc from HP
and it’s still there. My security is Norton 360 which I do like but I’ve tried
Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes, and none of these detected any
problems – and yes, I ran each on its own so as not to have any conflict. The
only problem I’ve noticed was I tried System Restore and after about three hours it
was still running so I shut down the PC and did a complete install using the
disc anyway.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #84
, I look at a mysterious program showing in the Start menu on
a Windows 8 machine and steps to analyze it.

]]>

Program in Start menu

So I’ll begin by waving you off of System Restore.

Most of my experiences with System Restore have been bad – in the sense that it’s not something that you can rely on. When it works, it’s pretty nifty and very convenient – but it’s not something that you can rely on to restore any particular system. I’ve just seen too many cases where the restore fails or won’t even start.

Locate the program files

So with that out of the way, what I would actually have you do in this case is examine that item in the Start menu and use a couple of programs to see if you can’t figure out exactly what it is.

What I would do is I would right-click on that item that you find in the Start menu. Click on Properties, and in Properties, it should give you the actual name of the .exe file that it’s attempting to run.

That file is the program.

I would then locate that on your hard drive. It is possible that the Start menu item will in fact have the complete path to the file so that you can find it.

Examine the file

I would then direct you to an article that I’ve written called, “What’s this .exe?” That is a series of steps that will allow you to kind of, sort of examine what that .exe file is, where it comes from, what it’s doing, who made it – and potentially be able to do some research on exactly understanding what it is and hopefully what it does.

Assuming that that turns out to be successful, you can then make an informed decision as to what to do about it.

If that turns up nothing? I would be seriously tempted to remove it from the Start menu and not have it run. In fact, if it’s starting up in auto-start, I would locate that .exe file (the name of that program that you discovered in the Start menu > Properties), and actually disable it from running – and see what happens when you do that.

Backup first!

Now, I will say – since we don’t know what this program is and we don’t have a sense for how important it is or is not – if you get to that point, I would strongly recommend that you take a full system backup before disabling it, just in case it turned out to be critically important.

I don’t think it is. I’d be surprised. But in case it is, a full-system backup will allow you to restore the system back to the state that it was before you disabled it – without having to reinstall everything from scratch, yet again.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Do this:

Subscribe to Confident Computing! More confidence & less frustration -- solutions, answers, & tips -- in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

2 comments on “What's this thing called "PROGRAM" in my Start menu?”

  1. I’ll just mention that System Restore has been a helpful timesaver a half dozen times for me. Done something wrong, screwed up a driver, and Restore has brought it back, whatever it was. Even infected a couple times, and the typical recommended apps couldn’t remove it. Restore, and THEN the apps could do their job quite successfully. No, I wouldn’t count on it, but it has been handy.

    Reply
  2. I too have had generally OK results with System Restore, it has gotten me out of a few scrapes. Do remember to back up your user files first though because even though you get a message similar to “your files have not been affected” when it’s finished , I have had occasions where my most recent C# (programming) files have disappeared after the restore.

    Reply

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.