There are several places that items can get added to the startup list. This particular situation is most likely a malformed registry entry. MSConfig is a nice enough tool for simple situations, but to diagnose this one, I’d break out a bigger gun.
I had to, in fact. I looked, and sure enough … I had a blank entry too.
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Here’s a snapshot of my MSConfig highlighting the blank entry:
You’ll not that while there’s a check mark, indicating the item is “enabled”, there’s nothing in the Startup Item text, nor is there anything in Command.
Now, if you like, you can stop here. This entry is totally benign. Since there is no Command, there is nothing happening at startup. You can safely leave it alone.
If, on the other hand, you want to clean it up … well, that requires firing up the registry editor, or RegEdit.
First things first – since damaging the registry can cause some serious problems in Windows, be sure to backup the registry first.
Now, on the right hand side of that MSConfig display above, you’ll see a column labeled Location. Scroll and expand that column, and you’ll see that my empty item lists a location of:
That’s the location of the item in the windows registry. So fire up RegEdit (Start, Run, type RegEdit and press OK), and navigate in the left-hand pane to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (that’s what “HKLM” is shorthand for)
In the right-hand pane you should now see a list of Name, Type and Data. These are the keys associated with the Run item.
Scroll down, and we notice that one has a name, but no data:
That’s our culprit. You can see that in my case it was something associated with “pdfSaver3”. It could have been left over from an aborted install, or an incomplete uninstall. It’s also possible that entries like this can result from viruses and spyware.
Regardless of where it came from, I deleted it, restarted MSConfig, and the empty line therein was also gone as a result.