Speeding up your PC's start-up speed!

To control your computers startup, you can use "Msconfig". It is a program that tells you what’s going on whenever you start Windows.

The reality is quite simple: msconfig allows you to modify how your system starts. When Windows starts, it loads all sorts of things, from a variety of places. If your system is slow or you’re having problems starting at all, it could be because of conflicts between different programs that run when your system starts. 

You can correct such a condition by cleaning up the startup files. Using the msconfig utility, you can see a list of what Windows loads and individually select which of those items should load and those it should not!

To start msconfig:

  1. Choose Start>Run 
  2. In the Open text box, type msconfig.exe and click OK. 
  3. The program is executed and very shortly you see the System Configuration Utility program window.

Notice that there’s no menu bar for the program; everything is handled through a series of tabs. These tabs represent different aspects of how Windows starts on your system.

The tabs on the utility are:

System.ini: This tab shows the contents of the system.ini startup file. The tab doesn’t contain the file text but presents the file contents in a hierarchy.

Win.ini: This tab shows the contents of the win.ini file. A carryover from earlier versions of Windows, this file is used for compatibility with some older programs. Again, the file contents are displayed in a hierarchical manner.

Boot.ini: This tab shows the actual contents of the boot.ini file. This file indicates exactly how your system should boot. On most systems the file is pretty similar, but it becomes critical if you have multiple operating systems or different versions of Windows on the same system.

Services: This tab lists all the services that Windows can start. 

Startup: This tab lists all the programs automatically started whenever you begin Windows.

Additional tabs may be present, depending on your system’s configuration. For instance, you may see tabs that contain environment or international settings.

Modifying the startup process

The General tab on the System Configuration Utility dialog box allows you to say, in the most general way, how your system starts. Three options are available on the tab:

Normal Startup: With this default selected, Windows loads all the programs, drivers, and services it was instructed to load.

Diagnostic Startup: This option is, in some respects, similar to starting your computer in safe mode. When you choose this radio button, Windows only loads the most basic services and drivers.

Normally, you choose Diagnostic Startup only to get rid of all the potential problem areas in one move. If your system starts problem-free with Diagnostic Startup selected, you would then move onto Selective Startup to narrow the problem even further.

Selective Startup: This option enables you to make choices regarding which startup files are to be processed. If you deselect one of the check boxes under this option, then the corresponding startup file is skipped when Windows starts.

If you’re experiencing startup problems, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Start>Run, type "msconfig.exe" in the Open dialog box, and click OK.
  2. The System Configuration Utility program window appears.
  3. Deselect all the check boxes under Selective Startup and click OK. The boot.ini option is not a check box; you won’t be able to change it.
  4. Restart Windows.
  5. You should have no problem.
  6. Go back to msconfig, select the first check box (system.ini), and click OK.
  7. Restart Windows again to see if your problems crop up again. If your problems crop up, you know the problem is in system.ini. If they don’t crop up, then you know system.ini had no problem.
  8. Repeat the process until you’ve selected all the check boxes one at a time, restarting Windows after each.
  9. Through this process, you can determine which startup file is causing problems. You won’t yet know which command in the file is causing problems, but you’ll know where to look closer.

Now, the next step is to remove the file that is specifically causing the problems.

Modifying startup files

The hierarchical display shown represents the section of the startup file. The check boxes beside each section name allow you to indicate if you want that section processed when Windows starts. By selectively turning off different sections and restarting Windows, you can determine which section of the startup file may be causing your problems.

If a section name has a plus sign to the left, clicking it displays the contents of that particular section. Again, use check boxes to determine whether Windows should process a command line.

Be very careful when it comes to modifying the boot.ini file. In fact, you should not modify it unless you know absolutely what you’re doing. If you mess up the file, your system won’t boot!! That means you won’t even be able to get back to msconfig to fix it. Be careful!

Before you do any changes to you startup we recommend that you set a "system restore point" as explained earlier. 

Modifying what is started

Perhaps the most informative tab in msconfig is Startup. This tab lists programs that automatically run every time you start Windows.

Each startup item has a check box next to it; you can turn off the program next time you start Windows by de-selecting it. 

Using msconfig’s Startup tab, you can select which programs should be started when you begin Windows and which should’t. De-select the check box for any programs you don’t want started and then reboot. If problems crop up, you can also go back to msconfig, select the check box, and restart.

If the problems that come up are serious, you can always use the System Restore utility. 

That is the end of the guide to the basics of Windows XP cleanup and control. I hope you did like it and find it helpful. 

Wishing you better PC health!

Jai Hind.

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Table Of Contents

  1. How to clean up your Windows XP? - Introduction
  2. Before you do anything! - Precautions!
  3. Creating a cleaning schedule..for a fast PC
  4. Monthly cleaning tasks..
  5.      >> Getting rid of all the "Spyware"!!
  6.      >> Defragmenting your drive???
  7. Improving the Windows Performance! 
  8. Speeding up your PC's startup speed!