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Use MSCONFIG to Manage
Your Startup Programs
& Speed Up Your Computer

    Today's computers are capable of doing many things at once; however, having multiple programs running at the same time can cause each to run more slowly. Worse yet, if programs not currently being used are running, the ones you are using are slowed down even more.

    What might such a needlessly running program be? Well, a good example is Adobe Reader. The program is needed to open PDF files, but reading such files is something I do only occasionally. Why have the program running when I don't need it? Another example is RealPlayer. This media player is needed to hear songs whose file names have .RA or .RAM extensions. Well, RealPlayer is programmed to start running the moment you turn on your PC — whether you plan to use it or not.

    Another example is AOL. Why have this big program open and running if you are not going to use it? Turn AOL on only if and when you need it.

    So are there any programs that should start running when one's computer is turned on? Well, Internet users should have their anti-virus program up and running. However, these programs normally start running automatically.

    The illustration below shows the items I prefer to have running at Startup time.

Here's how to use MSCONFIG
(Microsoft Configuration)
to help control these programs:

    Windows XP users go to Start>Run, type msconfig, and click OK. Windows 7 or 10 users will type msconfig in the Search box near the Start button and press Enter.
    Click the Startup tab to see a list of programs with a check box next to each one. It's not uncommon to find all of them selected with checkmarks. By horizontally adjusting the "Command" and "Location" dividers, you can read a little more about each program.

    Most of us don't need more than two or three of these items checked.

    In any case, unchecking an item does NOT delete the program - you are simply telling it not to start running when you turn on your computer. Furthermore, any deslected item can be re-enabled whenever you want.

    If you are uncertain about what to turn off, deselect everything by clicking the Disable All button in the lower right corner. Reboot to see how your PC is behaving. If anything seems amiss, return to MSCONFIG and checkmark whichever program you suspect might be the culprit. If uncertain, mark the first item in the list, reboot, and review the computer's performance again. Repeat the process as needed.

    By the way, do not assume that this is a one-time ritual. Software authors have sneaky ways of adding new items to the list and re-enabling items you have deselected.

    The illustration below shows a view of my current MSCONFIG Startup list. Yours will probably not be the same, since we all use different programs.

MSCONFIG Startup Programs
  • I allow AIM to run in the background, since I use it frequently for Instant Messages.
  • I use Stickies constantly and always want the program up and running.
  • I do NOT need the "Desktop Weather Channel" or" Adobe Reader Speed Launch" running full time.
  • I have a free version of AOL, but rarely use it.
  • I certainly don't need huge programs like MSOffice or OpenOffice running constantly in the background. I activate them if and when I need them.

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