This article provides information on what the MSConfig utility is, how to use it and what to use it for in the Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 operating systems.
System Configuration MSConfig is a system utility designed to troubleshoot the Microsoft Windows startup process. It can disable or re-enable software, device drivers or Windows services that run at startup, and it can change boot parameters.
MSConfig is easy to use and helps you troubleshoot a lot of Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 boot problems. You can easily modify how the system boots (boot files), the system services, and the startup files on either a temporary or a permanent basis. This makes MSConfig an extremely useful troubleshooting utility. It can be used to speed up your Boot times and to streamline what loads where and when as your system starts up.
The MSConfig General tab gives you some basic options for starting your PC. The default choice for the utility is Normal Startup. The other two options for starting the computer are Diagnostic Startup and Selective Startup.
This starts Windows with basic services and drivers only. With this mode, you can determine if a basic Window file is the problem. This type of startup gives you a minimum environment for troubleshooting.
This allows you to choose which programs and services you want to open and which ones you want to keep from opening at startup.
If you think one of the launch programs is causing a problem at startup then you can deselect the Load Startup Items to prevent any startup program from launching. This is too general to help you determine which program is causing the problem, but it will help you narrow down the issue to a certain area.
This tab gives you many options for starting up the computer. The top portion of the window contains the Boot file that the computer is currently using. If there are multiple boot partitions on the system, you will see each listed here. You can change the timeout value for the boot menu and you can clearly see what commands the boot manager is using, to see if there are any issues.
Two of the three buttons provided in this window are for editing purposes and are greyed out by default. There are 2 options down the side of the page:
Changes made in System Configuration are not tracked. If you want to make changes later, you will have to do so manually. Use this feature with caution!
Using MSConfig can cause the operating system selection screen to display for thirty seconds. As a result, thirty seconds is added to the overall startup time. To prevent the operating selection screen from appearing for thirty seconds on startup, change the timeout line in the Timeout field to zero.
The only button that isn't greyed out under the Boot tab, is the Advanced Options. Clicking the Advanced Options button brings up the Boot Advanced Options dialog box. In most cases you probably won't need to use these options, but they can come in handy. Such as if you suspect that a boot issue is being caused by having multiple processors, you can limit the number of processors used to boot the system by selecting the Number of Processors check box and specifying a number.
The most valuable functions on the Boot tab are the boot options. You can use these choices for a variety of troubleshooting.
On startup, opens the Windows graphical user interface Windows Explorer in safe mode running only critical system services. Networking is disabled.
On startup, opens the Windows command prompt in safe mode running only critical system services. Networking and the graphical user interface are disabled.
On startup, opens the Windows graphical user interface in safe mode running critical system services and Active Directory.
On startup, opens the Windows graphical user interface in safe mode running only critical system services. Networking is enabled.
Does not display the Windows Welcome screen when starting.
Stores all information from the startup process in the file %SystemRoot%Ntbtlog.txt.
On startup, opens the Windows graphical user interface in minimal VGA mode. This loads standard VGA drivers instead of display drivers specific to the video hardware on the computer.
Shows driver names as drivers are being loaded during the startup process.
Limits the number of processors used on a multiprocessor system. If the check box is selected, the system boots using only the number of processors in the drop-down list.
Specifies the maximum amount of physical memory used by the operating system to simulate a low memory configuration. The value in the text box is megabytes (MB).
Prevents Windows from reallocating I/O and IRQ resources on the PCI bus. The I/O and memory resources set by the BIOS are preserved.
Enables kernel-mode debugging for device driver development.
Specifies the debugger connection settings on this computer for a kernel debugger to communicate with a debugger host. The debugger connection between the host and target computers can be Serial, IEEE 1394, or USB 2.0.
Specifies using Serial as the connection type and the serial port. The default port is COM 1.
Specifies the baud rate to use when Debug port is selected and the debug connection type is Serial. This setting is optional. Valid values for baud are 9600, 19,200, 38,400, 57,600, and 115,200. The default baud rate is 115,200 bps.
Specifies using 1394 as the debug connection type and specifies the channel number to use. The value for channel must be a decimal integer between 0 and 62, inclusive, and must match the channel number used by the host computer. The channel specified does not depend on the physical 1394 port chosen on the adapter. The default value for channel is 0.
Specifies a string value to use when the debug type is USB. This string can be any value.
The MSConfig Services tab lists integrated Windows services and programs that start when Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 starts. Or are run periodically by the Windows operating system itself. You will need to be careful when disabling services as many are critical to the computer's operation. Enable or disable programs or services from starting by checking or disabling the checkbox next to the program name. This is really useful when you're troubleshooting service-related problems.
Most services in Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 have been designed by Microsoft themselves. To make it easier to find third party services, you can click the Hide All Microsoft Services button.
This tab used to allow you to prevent items in your startup folder from starting when you log in. You now get a clickable link to the Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 Task Manager which controls this function now.
The Startup tab of the Task Manager shows a list of the current software applications that open automatically after Windows opens and shows the status of each one. Disable individual software applications by highlighting the application and clicking Disable.
The Tools tab lists diagnostic tools and other advanced tools you can run to improve computer performance. Before opening a tool, read the description next to the name of the tool to better understand the function it provides. To open a tool, select the name of the tool from the list and click the Launch button. These are tools that are built into the operating system like event viewer and such, but they are all gathered in one place under this tab.
Once any changes have been made you will be asked to restart as soon as you close the MSConfig utility. On restart you check if the changes made had any effect. If they have you can keep them and continue to narrow the issue down. If they don't, revert back to the defaults and try again with different changes.
Article ID: SLN151689
Last Date Modified: 03/16/2018 10:34 AM