Windows System Configuration – CompTIA A+ 220-802: 1.4

The Windows startup process includes many different options, and the System Configuration utility gives you a central utility to help manage this process. In this video, you’ll learn about System Configuration and the different options available when troubleshooting startup issues.
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If you’ve ever had to troubleshoot the systems start up process in Microsoft Windows, then you’ve probably used the Microsoft system configuration utility before. It’s perfect for looking at the boot process, you can see exactly what applications are starting up whenever Windows launches. You can look at what services might be running and you can manage what happens with all of those, all from this central utility. This utility is found in Windows XP, but you have to run it from the command line.

You would start with a run and you would run ms config, as we can see right here at the top. And that will launch the system configuration utility. This became of course so popular once people found that in Windows XP, that in Windows Vista and Windows 7, it became part of the administrative tools.

So if you go under a Control Panel and Administrative Tools, you’ll see that an icon is in those operating systems to start exactly the same utility. Let’s start up ms config and see what our options might be if we go to our Control Panel under Administrative Tools. This is Windows 7, so inside of this is an option for system configuration. The system configuration view looks pretty innocuous, it’s just a simple screen with a few tabs at the top. There’s a general tab, a boot tab, services start up and tools.

Our General tab gives us an option of what happens when we start our computer. We can have it start normally, which loads all device drivers and services. Maybe we would like to run a diagnostic start up and we define what device drivers and what services are running. We can choose to load these basic services or you get to choose whether you’re going to load system services, load start-up items and maybe use an original boot configuration, as well.

These configuration settings that you have control over can be defined in the boot view. You will see exactly how many operating systems you can boot from. Maybe you’d like to have it always perform a safe boot while we’re doing this diagnostic. Maybe you don’t want to boot a GUI or maybe you’d like to log everything during the boot process, you can see you have a lot of control over what happens.

That way if you’re hanging up during the boot, maybe the options you would like to choose is to log a lot of this information, and view it so that you can examine that file later. You can also make these settings permanent, so every time it starts up it’s going to choose whatever options you have in here. There are also advanced options were you can control how many processors will be used during the boot process.

You can also turn on some debug settings. If you’re doing some very, very detailed debugging, you can connect to the serial port of this computer, and it will provide debug information from that serial connection. There’s also a services tab, the services tab gives you control on what services start whenever your system boots. And you can see that all of the services you would normally find are inside of this.

So if you think that perhaps a service is what’s causing you a problem during the boot up process, you can turn on and off the services here to try to see if that might affect what might be occurring during the start up process. There’s also a start up tab, I find this is really useful, especially on a system where I’ve loaded all a lot of different applications, it’s been running for years.

You’ll find that the start up tab may have many, many applications inside of it. I just started this particular system, so the only thing it has inside of it is my virtual box guest additions that are started up automatically. But if I start loading up other applications that need to start up automatically, they’ll also be listed here. And if I feel that any of these might be my issue, I can of course enable or disable them individually, or all at once right from this view at the bottom. That way you can also perform some trial and error to see if you can find exactly what might be causing the problem during the start up.

The last tab that’s available in the system configuration is the tools tab. A lot of these tools can be accessed from the command line or from icons that are inside of your start menu, but it’s nice to have them in this one place that you could run everything. So you can see the computer management is here, event viewer is here, if we scroll down a bit you could see Performance Monitor, Task Manager. A lot of these things will even tell you what the command is that it’s running.

That way you don’t have to hunt around inside of Windows to find something you may be looking for. You can change the system configuration, change the settings you’d like to see. And then maybe quickly launch the event viewer and the Performance Monitor to see what might be changing or happening on your computer at that moment. And of course you could launch it from here and it will launch whatever you might have selected.

These system configuration options may not tell you exactly where your problem is occurring but it can certainly give you the control you need to enable or disable certain capabilities when your system is starting. And hopefully using trial and error, you can determine exactly where your problem is occurring.