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 Does your PC boot slowly or crash a lot?

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mcjilloft
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PostSubject: Does your PC boot slowly or crash a lot?   Wed Sep 10, 2008 9:40 pm

Built into Windows is a special tool called the "Microsoft System Configuration Utility" or simply "MSCONFIG." Designed to help you troubleshoot problems with your computer, MSCONFIG can also be used to ensure that your computer boots faster and crashes less.

Most people know that the more programs you have running on your computer at once, the more likely it is that your computer will either run slowly or even crash. What most people don't know is that every time you boot your computer a whole mess of "hidden" programs load in the background. Some of these hidden programs are essential, but most aren't. Turning off some of these hidden programs can significantly increase your computer's performance and reliability.

How to use MSCONFIG in Windows XP

Here is how to use MSCONFIG in Windows XP to disable some of the unnecessary programs that automatically load on start-up. Disabling these programs will help your computer boot faster and crash less. [For step-by-step instructions on how to use MSCONFIG in other versions of Windows, please visit my main How to Use MSCONFIG page.]

1. In Windows XP, go to Start > Run
Start > Run in Windows XP

2. Type MSCONFIG in the "Open:" box and then either press enter on your keyboard or click on the OK button.
Open: MSCONFIG

3. This launches Microsoft's System Configuration Utility. Click on the Startup tab (the tab at the far right).
System Configuration Utility in Windows XP

4. This takes you to a page with a list of "startup items." Startup items are programs that are automatically loaded every time you turn on your computer. Some startup programs are absolutely necessary, others are simply a waste of RAM.
System Configuration Utilities, Startup Tab, in Windows XP

In Windows XP, all of Windows' essential programs are loaded through something called "Windows Services." This means that most of the startup items you see in XP are completely optional and can be turned off. However, a good rule of thumb is to disable only those programs that you recognize and don't need to have running all the time. When in doubt, leave it on. Or, better still, check out Paul "PacMan" Collins' huge "Startup Applications" list at http://www.sysinfo.org/startuplist.php. This list of over 13,000 startup items you may encounter in MSCONFIG tells you which items are absolutely necessary, which items are optional, and which items you should definitely uncheck.

Here's a good example. On my computer I have a mess of MP3s and I listen to those MP3s with a program called WinAmp. For some reason or other, WinAmp decided that it should always be running on my computer even when I am not using the program. That's silly. To prevent WinAmp from automatically starting every time I boot my computer, I ran MSCONFIG and unchecked "WinampAgent." That's it.

Remember, disable only those programs that you recognize and don't need to have running all the time. When in doubt, leave it on.

5. Click on the OK button.

6. A message will pop up telling you that you must restart your computer before these changes will take effect. Click on "Yes" and your computer will automatically reboot.
XP restart dialog box

7. That's it! Your computer should now boot faster and crash less.

And if you ever want to turn on any of the startup items you disabled with MSCONFIG, just run MSCONFIG again.






How to use MSCONFIG in Windows Vista

Here is how to use MSCONFIG in Windows Vista to disable some of the unnecessary programs that automatically load on start-up. Disabling these programs will help your computer boot faster and crash less. [For step-by-step instructions on how to use MSCONFIG in other versions of Windows, please visit my main How to Use MSCONFIG page.]

1. Click on the Vista start icon in the bottom left corner of your screen.
Vista start logo

2. Type MSCONFIG in the search box and then either press enter on your keyboard or double-click on the MSCONFIG program that appears in the search results.
Search: MSCONFIG

3. To prevent you from accidentally making changes that could destabilize your computer, Vista asks you for permission to continue. You may see a box asking you to key in your computer's administrator user name and password.
Vista User Account Control

Or, if you're already logged into Vista as an administrator, you may see a box asking you if you would like to continue.
Vista Admin User Account Control

Either way, follow the on-screen prompts to give Vista permission to continue.

4. Once you have successfully passed through Microsoft's User Account Control roadblock, Vista will launch Microsoft's System Configuration Utility. Click on the Startup tab.
MSCONFIG in Vista

4. This takes you to a page with a list of "startup items." Startup items are programs that are automatically loaded every time you turn on your computer. Some startup programs are absolutely necessary, others are simply a waste of RAM.
Vista MSCONFIG startup tab

In Windows Vista, all of Windows' essential programs are loaded through something called "Windows Services." This means that most of the startup items you see in Vista are completely optional and can be turned off. However, a good rule of thumb is to disable only those programs that you recognize and don't need to have running all the time. When in doubt, leave it on. Or, better still, check out Paul "PacMan" Collins' huge "Startup Applications" list at http://www.sysinfo.org/startuplist.php. This list of over 13,000 startup items you may encounter in MSCONFIG tells you which items are absolutely necessary, which items are optional, and which items you should definitely uncheck.
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