What is "Program" entry in Task Manager and how to remove it?

Question

Issue: What is "Program" entry in Task Manager and how to remove it?

Recently, I was trying to turn off Discord in the startup menu and noticed a weird entry that says “Program.” It does not have any description, and the icon is simply blank. It is enabled at the time, but I can disable it as well. I was wondering what this entry is and if I should disable it. Thanks in advance.

Solved Answer

Startup items

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Windows consists of thousands of files and components, all of which need to work in harmony for a smooth operation and the best user experience. Over a period of time, people might install numerous third-party applications that can enhance their computing time in many ways. Some are used for work, others – for entertainment.

Regardless of which programs are being implemented, all of them bring in new entries in the system, and Startup items are one of those. Upon loading into Windows, some programs may lay dormant and only start up when a user double-clicks the EXE file.[1] However, some apps can be started as soon as Windows boots, and the setting is the default during the installation for some programs.

As a result, users end up with several processes running in the background, regardless of whether they are useful or not. Thus, some resources might be used, resulting in computer slowdowns, lag,[2] or even crashes. Luckily, these entries can be disabled via the Task Manager – something that many users resort to.

What is "Program" entry in Task Manager and how to remove it?

What is the “Program” entry in the Task Manager?

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Some users, upon opening the Task manager, found some strange entry “Program” they knew nothing about. This is not surprising, as the name lacks any definitive connection with any application, lacks a publisher entry, and is also missing an icon – another indicator that could point to where it is coming from or what its purpose is.

Users who have the “Program” entry in the Task Manager might even come to a conclusion that it is caused by malware infection or a similarly dangerous issue, hence many are willing to find out what it is and whether they should disable it.

In reality, the startup entry simply refers to a file from the “Program Files” folder, which is no longer valid. This can happen due to a number of reasons, for example, due to an incorrect application removal process. Likewise, the issue occurs when the corresponding registry value does not have the double quotes at the end of the string.

In other words, there could be numerous applications behind the mysterious “Program” entry – be it legitimate or not. So, technically, the entry could potentially be malware-related,[3] so we strongly recommend performing a full system scan with anti-malware before performing any other steps. ReimageMac Washing Machine X9 is an excellent maintenance and repair utility that can also remove already installed malware quickly and efficiently.

Find out what is hiding behind the entry

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It is rather easy to find out what is hiding behind the mysterious “Program” entry – here's how:

  • Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open the Task Manager
  • Go to the Startup tab
  • Right-click on the Name header and mark the following:
    Startup type
    Command line
  • Now you can see the name and path of the related entry.

See what "Program" entry in Task Manager is

Solution 1. Use Autoruns to delete the entry

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This method only applies to those who don't find the EXE file present in the folder specified in the Task Manager. To check that, simply go to the path mentioned in the Command Line entry you have uncovered using the previous step.

If it is true for you, all you have to do is remove the invalid startup entry, and the easiest way of doing this is by using Autoruns. Here's how:

  • Download Autoruns from the official Microsoft website
  • Once downloaded, extract the folder and double-click Autoruns EXE file
  • Find the entry from the Command Line in the Task Manager
  • In Autoruns, go to the Logon tab
  • Right-click on the related entry and select Delete.

Disable in Autoruns

Solution 2. Fix the registry entry

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If the folder indicated in the Command Line path is not empty, it means that the double quotes are missing in the Registry. Fix that as follows:

  • Type regedit in Windows search and press Enter
  • When User Account Control shows up, click Yes
  • The startup items can be located in one of the following locations (depending on the Windows version):
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run
  • Once you find the corresponding entry, double-click it
  • Add double quotes at the start and the end of the path
  • Click OK and close down Registry Editor.

Change registry

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About the author
Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The problem solver

Ugnius Kiguolis is the founder and editor-in-chief of UGetFix. He is a professional security specialist and malware analyst who has been working in IT industry for over 20 years.

Contact Ugnius Kiguolis
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