Slow Computer? Fixing the Boot and Why You Should not Use Msconfig to Edit the Startup Files

The quickest way to see what loads at startup, is to run the MSConfig utility. MSConfig is a troubleshooting utility that lets you edit .INI files, services and startup files. While not documented in Windows help, it is explained in the online Windows XP Resource Kit. You must have Administrator's rights to use the MSConfig utility.

To run MSConfig, click on Start/Run and type in MSConfig and enter. Clicking on the Startup tab will show you all the programs loading at start-up.

However, don't utilize msconfig to disable startup applications. Though it functions as a basic startup manager, msconfig shouldn't be used to alter your PC's auto-start programs, because by doing that:

- you change the registry where there are services that are necessary for hardware and booting. Once you uncheck a service in msconfig, you disable it entirely.

- while disabled with msconfig, programs may not be uninstalled properly and orphaned entries often will be left behind.

- switching back to normal startup mode, the orphan entries can result in boot up errors.

- msconfig does not list all applications loaded in all possible startup locations, some entry points are hidden and unknown to the user.

- msconfig does not allow the complete removal of disabled entries from its list.

It is far better to use a startup manager. You can download quite a few managers and use for free. You can try out Mike Lin's Startup Control Panel, Autoruns and Starter by CodeStuff. In any of these programs, If you untick an entry it will no longer run at startup. This will allow you to experiment and see how your system performs with any of them disabled.

But, first things first. Before you attempt any changes to the startup configuration it is wise to create a restore point which you can fall back on if an unforeseen problem arises.

Click on Start - Help and Support.

Click on the System Restore menu.

Select Create a restore point and click Next

Enter a name for the restore point and click on Create

The restore point has been created. Click Close.

Now you are sure that you have a point you can fall back to if you run into any problems altering your startup.

From a clean start, you can add back files, such as antivirus and firewalls that run at boot time. A major problem with editing the startup is knowing which files you need or not. Usually you can get an idea of what a file is by looking at the 'command' or 'location' column. The command is the actual executable file, including any options or switches, used to start a file. For example, the startup item 'eventsrc' has a command that shows us that it is in the Real folder, so we know it's associated with the RealMedia player. The location shows where the command is executed from, usually from a registry key, or the Windows Startup folder.

If you don't know what the file is or does, the startup list is a database of known files that you may encounter. When you find a file in the startup list you don't know, for example, "eventsvc", look it up in the database. But the database has many entries and the easiest way I found to identify these programs was to google them.

Now when you're all done and you have disabled the uneccessary programs running at startup, your system should be booting faster and trouble free.

Now that you have partially fixed the slow boot, you can carry on with the process of fixing your slow computer.

To really speed up your slow computer you need to:

- Remove unused applications.

- Clean your browser's history, temp data and your Favorite or Bookmark list.

- Optimize the Windows Registry

- Scan for and remove threats like viruses, malware etc.

- Take some more measures to make the boot process faster.

- Keep those startup apps you've disabled from reloading into the startup.

- Free your PC's memory whenever possible.

- Schedule your cleanup programs to run automatically.

- Place all your data files together in one easy to use location.

- Defrag and organize your disks so that your most used files are in the fast lane.

- Optimize, tune and tweak your PC for optimal speed and stability.

I have researched and tested several products over a period of several months and in order for me to get our slow PC's performance up to speed again, I made use of not less than 17 different products, each of which is designed to do a certain task on the computer. Eventually we ended up using 11 of these apps (all freeware) on a regular basis which keeps our PC's performing clean and error free.

In forthcoming articles I'll explain to you in detail, how to clear out forgotten programs, unused, unnecessary and junk files and how to clean and streamline the Windows registry.