Windows 7 / Getting Started

How to Use the System Configuration Tool

The System Configuration tool offers more advanced control over startup settings, including some ability to configure the BCD registry file. This tool is specifically designed for troubleshooting, and you can use it to easily undo changes that you have made to the computer's configuration (even after restarting the computer). If you make changes with the System Configuration tool, it will remind users logging on that settings have been temporarily changed- thus reducing the likelihood that settings will not be reset after the troubleshooting process has been completed.

Some common tasks for the System Configuration tool include:

  • Temporarily disabling startup applications to isolate the cause of a post-logon problem.
  • Temporarily disabling automatic services to isolate the cause of a pre-logon or postlogon problem.
  • Permanently or temporarily configuring the BCD registry file.
  • Configuring a normal, diagnostic, or selective startup for Windows Vista.

To use the System Configuration tool, click Start, type Msconfig, and then press Enter. The System Configuration tool provides five tabs:

  • General Use this tab to change the next startup mode. Normal Startup loads all device drivers and services. Diagnostic Startup is useful for troubleshooting startup problems, and it loads only basic devices and services. Use Selective Startup to specify whether you want to load system services or startup items.
  • Boot Use this tab to configure the BCD registry file and startup settings. You can remove startup operating system options, set the default operating system, configure advanced settings for an operating system (including number of processors, maximum memory, and debug settings), and configure Windows for Safe Boot or to boot without a graphical interface.
  • Services Use this tab to change the startup settings for a service temporarily. This is an excellent way to determine whether an automatic service is causing startup problems. After you disable a service, restart your computer and determine whether the problem still exists. If it does, you have eliminated one potential cause of the problem. You can then use this tab to re-enable the service, disable another service, and repeat the process. To disable services permanently, use the Services console.
  • Startup Lists applications that are configured to start automatically. This is the best way to disable applications temporarily during troubleshooting because you can easily re-enable them later using the same tool. You should not use the System Configuration tool to permanently remove startup applications, however, because the System Configuration tool is designed to enable you to easily undo changes. Instead, you should manually remove the application.
  • Tools Provides links to other tools that you can start.

Note The Win.ini, System.ini, and Boot.ini tabs do not appear in the System Configuration tool because those files have not been used since Windows XP.

Because the System Configuration tool is a graphical tool, it is primarily useful when Windows is booting successfully.

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In this tutorial:

  1. Configuring Startup and Troubleshooting Startup Issues
  2. What is New with Windows Startup
  3. Boot Configuration Data
  4. BCD Stores
  5. System Recovery
  6. Windows Boot Performance Diagnostics
  7. Understanding the Startup Process
  8. Power-on Self Test Phase
  9. Initial Startup Phase
  10. Initial Startup Phase for BIOS Computers
  11. Initial Startup Phase for EFI Computers
  12. Windows Boot Manager Phase
  13. Windows Boot Loader Phase
  14. Kernel Loading Phase
  15. Control Sets
  16. Values for the Start Registry Entry
  17. Value Descriptions for Type Entries
  18. Other Registry Entries in the Servicename Subkeys
  19. Session Manager
  20. Logon Phase
  21. Important Startup Files
  22. How to Configure Startup Settings
  23. How to Use the Startup And Recovery Dialog Box
  24. How to Use the System Configuration Tool
  25. How to Use BCDEdit
  26. How to Interpret BCDEdit Output
  27. How to Back Up and Restore Settings
  28. How to Change the Default Operating System Entry
  29. How to Change the Boot Menu Time-Out
  30. How to Change the Order of Boot Manager Menu Items
  31. How to Create an Entry for Another Operating System
  32. How to Remove a Boot Entry
  33. How to View and Update Global Debugger Settings
  34. How to Remove the Windows 7 Boot Loader
  35. How to Configure a User Account to Automatically Log On
  36. How to Disable the Windows Startup Sound
  37. How to Speed Up the Startup Process
  38. The Process of Troubleshooting Startup
  39. Startup Troubleshooting Before the Starting Windows Logo Appears
  40. How to Start the System Recovery Tools
  41. How to Run Startup Repair
  42. How to Use BootRec.exe
  43. How to Diagnose Hardware Problems
  44. How to Use System Restore
  45. How to Manually Repair the Boot Sector
  46. How to Manually Update the BCD Registry File
  47. How to Manually Replace Files
  48. How to Reinstall Windows
  49. Startup Troubleshooting After the Starting Windows Logo Appears
  50. How to Restore the Last Known Good Configuration
  51. How to Enable Boot Logging
  52. How to Start in Safe Mode
  53. How to Identify Failing Drivers and Services
  54. How to Analyze Startup Problems in Safe Mode
  55. Event Viewer (Eventvwr.msc)
  56. System Information
  57. Error Reporting Service
  58. How to Use Device Manager to View or Change Resources
  59. How to Analyze Boot Logs
  60. How to Roll Back Drivers
  61. How to Temporarily Disable a Service
  62. Troubleshooting Startup Problems After Logon
  63. How to Temporarily Disable Startup Applications and Processes
  64. How to Disable Startup Applications Using the Shift Key
  65. How to Disable Startup Programs Using the System Configuration Utility
  66. How to Disable Startup Applications Configured Using Group Policy or Logon Scripts
  67. How to Permanently Disable Startup Applications and Processes
  68. Manually Remove the Entry