MSConfig System Configuration Utility

With the utility MSConfig it is possible to analyze all the applications starting when you turn on your computer and, if you feel the need to do so, disable undesirable items. Turning off undesirable items will save system resources which will eventually result in a faster Windows. You can start the MSConfig utility by Start, Run and type the command MSCONFIG and press ENTER. If you have just done a fresh Windows setup, there won't be much shocking to disable. When you have installed all your favorite software, it is time to have a look at MSConfig, whether performance enhancements are possible.

The most important tab, is the last one: Startup. Here you can disable (and enable again....) startup items. If you are not sure, you better leave the item untouched, but you are free to experiment (you can always turn them on again). If you have been infected by a virus, most times you can find the virus here. To disable a virus you better run MSCONFIG in Windows safe mode (press F8 while restarting Windows), else the still active virus will reactivate your action.

MSConfig startup

Above is shown how the automatic startup of the Windows Messenger has been disabled. The Command column shows the location of the application (which can give you information about what's the application for). The Location column tells you where you can find the place to delete the item permanently, most of the times it will be in the Windows registry. It is important to realize what every item does, and to ask yourself the question whether you need that item. Many applications you will install place a link here (most of the times unasked), to make them fast accessible in the system tray.

XP PROCESS LIBRARY

If you are not sure what some items are all about (possibly a virus or Trojan....), you can always check it out at the Process Library (www.processlibrary.com).







The tab Services also shows some essential services started with Windows. Most of the shown services are from Microsoft Windows, which are discussed on the page Windows XP services. It's wise, not to disable one of those, to make sure you keep out of startup troubles. However, by choosing the option to Hide All Microsoft Services. This will give you an insight in non-Windows services. Most of the time it is completely filled with the services from security software like firewalls and virus scanners. This answers the question why your quick computers rapidly turns into a slow snail.

MSConfig services

Above you can see that the NVIDIA Driver Helper Service (saves time at the shutdown of Windows) and the TuneUp WinStyler Theme Service are turned off.

SOLVING STARTUP PROBLEMS WITH MSCONFIG

If you have a startup problem (for example blue screens of death, also called BSOD's), then MSConfig is the right tool for the first step to analyze this. First turn off all items on the Startup tab and restart your computer. If this didn't work you can also try to turn off all the non-Microsoft services. However, if it did work you can start turning on startup items again until you find your trouble maker. By trial and error you will find the problematic software, and solve your startup problems. A plausible other cause of a BSOD are wrong hardware drivers.


DELETING STARTUP ITEMS FROM THE REGISTRY

If you are sure about disabling certain items on the Startup tab, you can delete them permanently in the Windows registry. If you do so, you won't see them anymore in the MSConfig screen. Start the registry editor with the command REGEDIT the same way you started MSConfig: Browse to the following keys (all starting with Run):

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run????
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run????

Find your unwanted startup items en delete them. Be careful: deleting is permanent, you can't recover deleted keys! If you feel better, first make a backup of the registry by exporting the keys to a .REG file, which you can easily import again by double clicking on the file.


AUTORUNS AND PROCESS EXPLORER BY SYSINTERNALS

Sometimes MSConfig can be a little confusing. The application AutoRuns (download: www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/ProcessesAndThreads/Autoruns.mspx) can be of great help and give some extra information about your startup items. The application Process Explorer (download: www.microsoft.com/technet/sysinternals/ProcessesAndThreads/ProcessExplorer.mspx) can also be of great use when you have startup problems. With Process Explorer you can investigate the running processes: it tells you what files and DLL files are used by the different processes.


USE HIJACKTHIS FOR BROWSER HIJACKS

You can't fix any startup problem with MSConfig.... With the application HijackThis (download: www.spywareinfo.com/~merijn of www.merijn.org) you have a very powerful tool to detect and end irritating browser hijackers. Be careful, the application is very powerful!


The tabs SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI aren't that important, the tab BOOT.INI gives you some extra boot options you can turn on or off. By clicking Check All Boot Paths, you can possibly fix some boot problems. By enabling the option /NOGUIBOOT there won't be any Windows logo at startup, just a black screen (actually there is no important reason to do so......;-).

MSConfig BOOT.INI

SHOW REASON XP CRASH IN THE LOG FILES

If you would like to have more information about the reason of a Windows crash, you have to change a key in the Windows registry. Visit the following location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Reliability, and change the DWORD-value ShutdownReasonUI from 0 to 1. Now you will find more information about the reason why Windows crashed in the log files, which are available through the Control Panel, Administrative Tools, Event Viewer. If your problems are solved, restore the value to 0.



 
 
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