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MSConfig Tutorial


What is MSConfig?


The System Configuration Utility also known as MSConfig is a helpful tool that will help you troubleshoot your Windows system.

MSConfig is available on Windows 98, Windows ME and Windows XP. If you are running Windows 2000 read our MSConfig in Windows 2000 section.

In alternative to MSConfig you may use a startup manager. Take a look at InControl Startup Manager.


How to start MSConfig

  1. Click on the Start button.
  2. Select Run from the menu.
  3. In the run dialog box type msconfig.
  4. Click OK.




Overview


The interface of MSConfig consists of six tab pages. You most likely don't need the WIN.INI and SYSTEM.INI sections. They are used only to provide support for 16-bit applications (these are programs that are more than 10 years old!).

The General tab section has several options like Normal Startup, Diagnostic Startup and Selective Startup which determine the way Windows will boot the next time it starts up. You will be asked for a restart when quitting MSConfig.

You can create a System Restore point to ensure that you will be able to revert to the previous configuration if you mess up something. Click Launch System Restore button to do so.


BOOT.INI Section


If you want to change your system boot preferences you have to edit the boot.ini file with Notepad. The file is in your hard drive's root folder (it is hidden).
But MSConfig gives you a better way to edit it. Select the BOOT.INI Tab and a rich and intuitive interface is revealed to you.
If you have multiple operating systems installed you can change the boot screen interval by entering a lower or higher value in the Timeout edit box.
 
You can check out the /SAFEBOOT option and the next time Windows is restarted it will start up in Safe Mode.


Services Section


Services are a special kind of applications. They run on the background and have no visible windows. There are a lot of system services that Windows need in order to operate properly. But there are also some you don't need and can safely turn off. The rule here is: do not touch services you don't know.
Check out the Hide All Microsoft Services option. Now the list becomes much shorter. The list shows all registered services but not all of them are running. Review the currently started ones and decide which of them you have no use in your daily work with your PC. Uncheck them and click Apply.  
Another way to control these background programs is from Administrative Tools -> Services.


Startup Section


Some applications need to be started every time when Windows boots. Over time their count may increase drastically.
The Startup tab of MSConfig allows you to disable some of the applications you don't need any more. It is as simple as un checking them and then clicking on the Apply button. Do not disable programs you don't know. Do a search on Google if you are not certain what some applications do.  
If you find yourself having a lot of disabled items over time you can use the free MSConfig Cleanup to cleanup the list.


In Conclusion


After you make the changes the computer will need to be rebooted for the changes to take effect.

More information you can find at Useful External Resources.
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