Msconfig - Microsoft's Secret Weapon to Increase Your Computer's Speed
It happens to the best of us - we buy a new computer, and it works great. It's
fast, responds well, and does what you want it to. Just like a new car, you love
driving, and can't imagine that one day it would ever feel like drudge work.
But that day will unfortunately happen. You can't expect your car to always work
perfectly without regular tune-ups. Well, it's the same thing with your computer.
It will begin grinding down, responding slower, and start-up boot times will take
longer and longer. Why is this?
Most people know that "taking out the garbage" is one way to clean up their computer.
Emptying the electronic trash bin, performing regular hard drive defrags and uninstalling
little-used programs will help speed up your computer. However, one thing few people
think about is the area that affects your computer's speed the most - the memory.
What often happens is that you will install a new piece of software - be it a video
suite like Quicktime or an online reader like Adobe Acrobat - and these programs will,
by default, load into your system right when you turn your computer on. Why do they do
this? Well, the software makers say it's to load up their program faster. The reality
is that it's a marketing tactic to make their program remain visible on your computer.
They remain in your memory, consuming your computer's resources even when you don't
use them. In my experience, the load time is not much greater if you do not have them
in your memory in the first place.
What if you install a dozen other programs that "conveniently" load into your system
as well? How about custom toolbars and control panels? All these programs loading into
memory will eventually mean a snail will beat your computer in a race!
One way to disallow them from automatically loading is to go to each program's
settings and uncheck an option that will say something along the lines of "Load at
startup" or "Speed launcher" or some other fancy name. Another way is to go to your
Start menu > Programs > Startup and delete anything that is showing in the menu.
This won't delete the program, only the command to load at startup. However, this can
be tedious and frustrating, as each program may have different settings, and some
may not even give you an option! Luckily, there is one centralized way to do this - Msconfig.
Msconfig is one of the better utilities put out my Microsoft. Introduced with
Windows ME and above, it gives you a central location to manage a variety of your
computer's options. Before we take the tour, a warning - changing these settings can
damage your computer, which is why Microsoft doesn't actively publicize this. Don't
worry though, our only concern is to control what non-essential programs load into
The easiest way to access Msconfig is to click Start, then Run. Type msconfig
into the box as shown:
Click Enter, and you will be presented with the Msconfig screen. The tab we are
concerned with is Startup. Ignore the others, as they are used for more advanced