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What is MSCONFIG?

written by: •edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 12/17/2010

One of the key tools for computer support in Windows 7 is the System configuration, activated by running msconfig.exe.

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    MSCONFIG Explained

    How to use Windows 7 msconfig One of the most useful utilities included in Windows 7 is MSCONFIG (also known as System configuration), a vital tool that allows you to manage boot options, access services, view what applications run at startup and much more.

    MSCONFIG is very useful in the fight against viruses and malware, and can also be used in the installation of troublesome software. This is probably the single most important piece of Windows-based software when it comes to resolving issues with the operating system, so its use should be measured and considered.

    There are five tabs in Windows 7 MSCONFIG, which we will look at in turn.

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    The General Tab

    The first tab allows you to select how you would like Windows to start. Under the heading Startup selection, there are three options:

    Normal startup – this will boot Windows 7 as normal and is the default selection. If you make any changes to the other options on this tab, this is the setting to return to after you have resolved the problem.

    Diagnostic startup – similar to running in Safe Mode, this option will load only basic devices (hard disks, keyboard, mouse) and services and can be useful in getting to the bottom of driver and software issues.

    Selective startup – this option has three settings, allowing you to enable or disable Windows from loading system services, startup items and using the original boot configuration.

    These options can all be used to investigate and resolve problems with your Windows startup time as well as basic troubleshooting.

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    Boot Options

    Windows 7 msconfig advanced memory options If installing software or booting into Windows correctly is an issue, the Boot tab will allow you to change how Windows 7 boots.

    This is usually done via the Boot options section, where you can select a Safe boot and various other options such as creating a log or booting without the GUI and all of these settings can be made permanent.

    Meanwhile in Advanced options you can apply a Maximum memory setting depending on your installed system RAM, as well as specify how many cores your CPU uses.

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    Managing Services with MSCONFIG

    Problems with background tasks and services can be resolved here, usually be enabling or disabling individual items.

    Here you might find commonly used tools such as Disk Defragmenter, Windows Event Log, services relating to your anti-virus software, and even Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service. Problems or concerns with any of the listed services can be swiftly acted on by clearing the check box and clicking Apply; alternatively use the Disable all button to close disable all services.

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    Startup Settings

    The Startup tab is similar to Services, but instead lists all processes and programs that run as part of your Windows 7 startup. MSCONFIG is useful in that it can help you find malware that is running as part of your Windows startup and if you’re lucky you can disable it here before going on to remove it elsewhere.

    As with the Services tab, these items can be enabled and disabled via the check boxes or the buttons. If you have any applications running at startup that you want to disable, this is the place to stop them; it is also a good place to check periodically for any malware that might be slowing down your system.

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    Windows 7 MSCONFIG Tools

    Finally, the Tools tab gives you quick access to various Windows 7 features that are usually only available by browsing around Control Panel. This is a great way to quickly run the Programs and Features tool, for instance, and this can be run by selecting Programs in the list and clicking Launch.

    MSCONFIG is a vital tool for any experienced Windows user to make changes to the way their operating system works. However inexperienced users should use this utility with care.