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Using Built-in Utilities in Windows to Correct Problems (using msconfig)

Many problems occur in Windows because of conflicts in running programs. Do you know what programs are running? Run this test. Restart your computer. Do a Ctrl-Alt-Del. The window should look like this:

Refer also to this page for using Safe Mode to solve some problems.
Includes a new way to get into safe mode

Notice the list of programs running. Your list will vary depending on your specific installation of programs. You can close each program by selecting it and clicking End Task. The window will close and you will have to reopen it each time and select another item to close. Do not close Explorer or Systray. These must stay running. Also do not click Ctrl-Alt-Del a second time or the computer will restart and you will have to start all over.
After closing all programs, see if the errors stop. If they do, it is one of these programs that is causing the conflict. Unfortunately the names don't make much sense.
Obviously it is cumbersome to have to shut off programs by this method every time you start the computer. To remove a program from starting up, try the next section of this page.

This window has a different appearance in later Windows but the principle still holds.

How Windows starts programs:

There are various ways Windows starts programs. The easiest to see and change is in the start menu. Click Start, Programs, Startup and see if any programs are listed. If you do not need these programs running, delete them from the list.

2 other places that start windows programs are harder to find and edit. One is the old Windows programs found by running Sysedit from Start, Run. The files that can start programs are autoexec.bat, config.sys, Win.ini and System.ini. If you are not an experienced user, it is best to leave this alone since changes here can cause other problems.

The second place to also stay out of without advanced knowledge is the Windows Registry. It is accessed by Start, Run, Sysedit. There are places here that define startup programs.

Windows comes with a utility called System Configuration Utility. It looks like this:

The short way to access it is to run msconfig. The long way is to Start, Programs, Accessories, System tools, System Information. In the System Information dialog box, choose Tools, System Configuration Utility.
In the displayed window, the items with checks in the boxes are being started as you start Windows. Some make sense, some don't. You can safely turn any of them off, but you may disable a function in the process. To find out what is causing the conflicts, shut them all off. You will be required to restart the computer to put the changes into effect. You may find that you need to turn some features back on if something doesn't work. Some files affect scanners, printers, anti-virus, etc. Start turning items back on one at a time and check for errors. If one item starts the errors again, you have found the offending program. Many times it is the anti-virus program.


It may look different in later versions of Windows but the principle still holds.

The system Configuration Utility and the System Information dialog boxes have a number of other tools not discussed here. To investigate the additional features, use Help in each window to find out what tools are available.



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