Getting to Grips with MSCONFIG

Some people are wary of resolving a computer related issue as soon as they hear any complicated computer jargon that comes with it. Abbreviated files or programs with alphabetically disordered letters make people believe that only computer technicians will know what to do. This is quite far from the truth. In fact, more and more people are becoming computer literate without ever having taken a computer class. This change is all thanks to the Internet. The MSCONFIG utility is a very powerful tool if you know what to do with it. Read on to find out what it can do and how you can take advantage of it.

The Basics

MSCONFIG stands for Microsoft Configuration and it is your system configuration utility tool. Think of your computer as a ship and think of MSCONFIG as the main control panel in charge of that ship. It dictates how your computer boots up and what it does thereafter. How MSCONFIG is managed could mean the difference between a slow performing computer and a fast performing one.

The Breakdown

Access to MSCONGFIG can be achieved by clicking on ‘’start,’’ ‘’run’’ (Press Win+R in Windowns 8) then typing in ‘’msconfig’’ in the box that pops up. Once opened, you will see a range of tabs. The main tabs you need to pay attention to are the General, Services and Startup tabs. These are the ones that can really make a difference to your system when managed correctly.

The General Tab

It probably not quite as important as the other tabs but it can be useful for starting your machine up in a safer mode. It controls what drivers, devices and services boot up initially. You shouldn’t really need to use this at all, unless you’ve had series of crashes and want to run a diagnostics test in safe mode, but it helps to know that you can.

The Services Tab

The Services tab is very similar to the Startup tab except that instead of listing programs, it lists all the services that run when you first boot up your machine. You will notice that the majority of those services are Microsoft ones. You shouldn’t really mess with those unless you know exactly what you’re doing. Thankfully there is a column aptly labelled ‘’Essential’’ that lets you know whether a service is essential to the running of your machine and cannot be disabled.

To see the list of non-Microsoft services you can simply check the ‘’Hide All Microsoft Services’’ box located underneath the list of services. Once all the Microsoft services are hidden you can decide which services you don’t want to be running by un-checking the appropriate box. Again, make sure you do your research and evaluate what’s safe to de-select and what’s not.Unfortunately, viruses can often find their way into the Services tab too, so it is always recommended to research any dubious services and take immediate action.

The Startup Tab

The Startup tab contains all the programs that automatically run as soon as you start up your machine. You will notice programs, such as your antivirus software and application updaters. If you notice a long list of programs that are checked as running, this could be a major factor contributing to slow performance. Each program that is enabled uses up memory (R.A.M) and if there are too many running at the same time, it can clog up your machine and slow it down significantly.

If your machine takes more than a minute or so to fully boot up, this could be an indication that there are more programs running than your machine can handle. A lot of programs don’t actually need to be running, such as any messenger services, media players or office suites you have. These are safe to disable. Also, you may have programs on your computer that have automatic update features appearing in the Startup tab. They can be unchecked. However, make sure to research any programs you’re not familiar with because they could be important. As a rule of thumb, you should always make sure to keep your antivirus program and any printer drivers enabled.

If you’ve ever downloaded or installed extensions to your browser or even just downloaded an application, the publisher may slide in a separate program or even a virus or malware that will be present in the Startup tab. Most of the time they are nothing to worry about but it is always better to check.

The Startup tab is probably the most powerful tool in the MSCONFIG department and by disabling unneeded programs you could see a significant decrease in the time it takes your computer to boot up and a dramatic increase in overall performance.

After you have implemented all of the above suggestions, you should notice a vast improvement in the way your computer operates. A reduction in the amount of unnecessary programs and services that are running will undoubtedly free up a lot of memory resources. A computer that has less to do will be able to cope with the things it has to do more efficiently.

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