Making Your Computer Faster with MSConfig

Do-It-Yourself Tech

All versions of Windows XP come with a built-in utility called MSConfig (short for Microsoft Configuration). Among other things, this program allows you to see all of the programs that are loading each time your computer starts up. Many of these programs may be loading in the background without you knowing. Here’s what you need to know to use MSConfig and potentially speed up your computer:

To use MSConfig, click on “Start” in the lower left-hand corner. Then click on “Run.” Type the word “msconfig” in the box and click OK. A window will come up with some tabs at the top, click on the “Startup” tab. A list will be displayed of the files that are loading when your computer starts up. It should look something like this (click to enlarge):

Ms_config_checked_3In this example, all the files listed are checked. It can be difficult to determine what is important and what is not, though it’s important to leave any references to anti-virus software. Otherwise, many files can be unchecked to speed up the computer. Not only does it speed up the amount of time it takes for the computer to start up, but it also can increase performance while the computer is running other programs. Simply uncheck those files that may not be needed and then click “Apply” and then “OK.”

The next time the computer turns on, however, it will show a message saying that the configuration has changed. As part of this message, there is a little check box that says “Don’t show this message again” that can be clicked to avoid the message from coming back. Otherwise, if there is something you unchecked and want to recheck for whatever reason, you can go back into MSConfig and recheck it.

The following is an example of unchecked files in MSConfig on a computer that, as a result, is running much faster (click on the image below to enlarge):

Ms_config_unchecked_1In this example, certain files are unchecked that do not necessarily need to load every time the computer is turned on (such as programs like QuickTime or Real Player, unchecking their files from this list does not uninstall the programs, it just makes it so that they don’t automatically load in the background. If you wanted to use either of these programs later, you’d simply run them just like any other program, by clicking on their shortcuts. Hence, there is no need for them to be loading automatically every time the computer is turned on). If you are unsure about what is appropriate or inappropriate for files loading on startup, consult a computer specialist (or the neighbor kid down the street) to get more information on certain files. But rest assured, whatever you uncheck can be rechecked later if needed.

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