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Is there Windows software that will allow you to see what an executable is doing while it is loading up? For example, monitor if the executable is modifying the registry, updating the file system, etc.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

You should have a look at Microsoft's System Internals Suite. In particular, Process Monitor and Process Explorer.

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+1 - Process Monitor is what you want for this one –  Ben Pilbrow Mar 13 '11 at 20:12
    
Perfect. Thank you! –  DDiVita Mar 13 '11 at 21:12
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