Unidentified Task Manager startup list entry

While checking on whether there were any Action Center items for a Windows 8.1 system by right-clicking on the Windows Start button, selecting Control Panel, then System and Security, and Action Center, I saw a message indicating 3 new startup items had been added recently. When I chose to view them through the Task Manager, which you can do by hitting Ctrl-Alt-Del and selecting Task Manager, I saw one suspiciously named "Program" with a status of "Enabled", but with no publisher listed.
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Task Manager - Startup

When I right-clicked on it to try to determine its location by clicking on "Open file location", that option was grayed-out.

Task Manager - file location
grayed out

With the Windows regedit program, I checked HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run, and HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce, but found nothing that looked amiss in those two locations. So I ran the Sysinternals progam autoruns. The program was written by Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, whose company, Winternals Software LP and Sysinternals website was acquired by Microsoft in 2006. Looking under the Logon tab, I saw an entry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run was highlighted in yellow, indicating there was a problem with it.

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Autoruns - Logon tab

Autoruns indicated that the file pointed to by the entry could not be found. In this case the value name and value data that were problematical were the following ones:

Value name:Wondershare Helper Compact.exe
Value data: C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Wondershare\Wondershare Helper Compact\WSHelper.exe

Not only did the file not exist on the system, there was not even a C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Wondershare\ directory.

When I unchecked the box next to "Wondershare" in autoruns, the entry immediately disappeared from the startup list in the Task Manager. If I rechecked the check box, the "Program" entry immediately reappeared in the startup list in the Task Manager. So, apparently, Windows will put "Program" in the list shown from the Startup tab in Task Manager, if a file associated wtih a "run" registry entry doesn't exist on the system.


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Created: Monday January 19, 2015