Modifying the General Startup Process

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 6, 2017)

The first step in tracking down any startup problems in Windows is to modify the options on the General tab of the System Configuration dialog box. You display this dialog box by searching, in Windows, for msconfig.exe. When you run the program, you should shortly see the System Configuration program window. The General tab should be displayed, by default. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The System Configuration dialog box.

The controls on the General tab allow you to specify, in the most general way, how your system starts up. Three options are available on the tab.

The default setting is Normal Startup. With this radio button selected, Windows goes blithely on its way, loading all the programs, drivers, and services it was instructed to load.

Diagnostic Startup is, in some respects, similar to starting your computer in safe mode. (If that comment went right over your head, don't worry—you didn't miss anything critical. Consider it an "insider's comment.") When you choose this radio button, Windows only loads the most basic of its many potential services and drivers.

Normally, you only choose Diagnostic Startup so you can get rid of all the potential problem areas in one move. If your system starts problem-free with Diagnostic Startup selected, you would then move on to Selective Startup in order to narrow down the problem even further.

The Selective Startup radio button allows you to make choices as to which startup files are processed. If you clear one of the check boxes under this option, then the corresponding group of startup files is skipped when Windows starts.

If you're experiencing startup problems, you should start by clearing all the check boxes under Selective Startup. When you restart Windows, you should have no problem. Then, come back to msconfig and select the first check box (Load System Services). Restart Windows again to see if your problems crop up again.

If your problems crop up, you know the problem is in the services that Windows loads when you start your system. If they don't crop up, then you know that the system services are working fine and you can select the next check box and restart.

Through this iterative process (selecting a check box and restarting) you can determine which general category of startup programs is causing you problems. You won't yet know which command in those categories is causing problems, but you'll know where to look closer.

 This tip (12022) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Selecting Formulas

Want to select only the formulas in your worksheet? It's easy to do using the Go To Special dialog box.

Discover More

Getting Rid of the Paste Options Box

Paste something in a Word document, and you may notice a dynamic little set of options appear right next to what you ...

Discover More

How Many Rows and Columns Have I Selected?

Want a quick way to tell how may rows and columns you've selected? Here's what I do when I need to know that information.

Discover More
More WindowsTips

Understanding and Changing AutoPlay Settings

You can configure Windows to perform some tasks automatically. This includes telling it what to do whenever Windows ...

Discover More

Syncing Settings between Computers

When you use a Microsoft account or an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) account, you can sync settings between the ...

Discover More

Removing a Tile from the Start Screen

The Start screen is a busy place in Windows. If it is too busy for your tastes, you can easily remove any of the tiles it ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 + 0?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.