For Seniors: How to Check and Change Your Computer System's Configuration

When the computer is built, the system configuration information is stored in part of the computer’s memory where it won’t get lost when the power is turned off. You can use the System Configuration tool to search for the sources of problems caused by corrupted, missing, or misassigned programs and elements of Windows.

View system configuration in Windows XP

Here's how to have a look at your system's settings.

  1. Choose Start→Run to open the Run dialog box. Type msconfig in the Open text box and click OK.

    The System Configuration Utility dialog box appears, displaying seven tabs. Each tab contains settings for various elements of your PC.

    image0.jpg
  2. Click the Services tab.

    You see a long list of the current software services running in Windows.

  3. Click the Startup tab.

    This tab lists the programs that launch every time you start your machine.

  4. Click the Tools tab.

    It lists the software tools you can use to inspect or troubleshoot your system. (Interestingly, Microsoft’s help-desk technicians may use the same tools to help you uncover and repair a problem with your computer.)

  5. When you’re ready to get on with other computer tasks, click the OK button.

    The System Configuration Utility dialog box closes.

Select diagnostic startup in Windows XP

It certainly is interesting to poke around inside the System Configuration Utility, but you also can use it as a serious diagnostic tool.

  1. Choose Start→Run to open the Run dialog box, type msconfig in the Open text box, and click OK.

    The System Configuration Utility dialog box appears.

    image1.jpg
  2. On the General tab, select Diagnostic Startup and click OK.

    The utility takes a few seconds to disable all but the most essential startup programs and services.

  3. When the Restart/Exit prompt appears, click Restart. When the diagnostics notification appears, click OK.

    Windows displays the System Configuration Utility dialog box again.

  4. Click the Startup tab, scan the list for a program that’s a likely troublemaker, and check its check box.

    You recognize a troublemaker through a process of elimination and good guessing. Analyze the problem that you’re experiencing and try to find an application that may have something to do with it. Start with anything that isn’t a Microsoft product and, therefore, may be incompatible with Windows.

  5. Click OK to restart your computer in Selective Startup mode. If the problem recurs, proceed to the next step. If the problem doesn’t occur, repeat the steps until you locate the offending application.

    Reinstall the problem program or contact the software manufacturer for help.

  6. Return your system to normal startup. To do so, choose Start→Run to open the Run dialog box. Type msconfig in the Open text box and click OK.

    The System Configuration Utility dialog box opens.

  7. On the General tab, select Normal Startup and click OK.

    Your computer restarts with all its programs enabled.

View system configuration in Vista and Windows 7

Viewing the system configuration in Vista and Windows 7 is different than in Windows XP:

  1. Click the Start button and then click inside the Search Programs and Files field (Start Search in Vista) at the bottom of the screen.

    The msconfig program appears at the top of the search box.

  2. Click msconfig to display the System Configuration dialog box.

    Vista displays a UserAccount Control notice.

  3. Investigate the Services, Startup, and Tools tabs.

    These tabs are essentially the same as those in the System Configuration Utility dialog box in Windows XP. Missing from the System Configuration dialog box, however, are the .INI tabs from Windows XP — which is probably a good thing, because you shouldn’t change those settings anyway.

  4. Click the Boot tab.

    The System Configuration dialog box appears.

    image2.jpg
  5. Click the General tab, choose Diagnostic Startup, and click OK to test your system with minimal applications loaded. When finished, select Normal Startup on the General tab and click OK.

    You return to normal startup mode, and your computer restarts with all its applications enabled.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement

Inside Dummies.com