Confused about System Configuration Settings

photoman11 used Ask the Experts™
I have a PC using Windows 7 and due to other issues, I had to make changes to the Services and Startup tab contents (in msconfig) in order to troubleshoot. Situation now is the original problem is fixed, but I am completely confused as to what should be the correct/active settings in the 2 tabs mentioned above.

For the most part, I don't know the impact, that the various services will have, whether they are stopped or running (Services); or in the Startup tab – what should be checked, not checked, or deleted.

I was considering attaching screen shots of my settings, however I cannot figure out how to enlarge the Windows and since the space is relatively small, if I increase the column size for one column, most of the other columns become unreadable.

Is there a way to actually show all information without taking 50 screenshots? Or, is it not necessary to know the contents to determine a solution?

Thank you very much for your help.
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
If you want to take a screenshot with more information, increase your display resolution.

To understand your issue more, relaunch "msconfig" and turn on the things you know you want, and leave everything off.  your system will start whatever it needs even if you don't have it start automatically.
Unchecking items in MSCONFIG is ONLY a temporary solution.  If the original problem has been solved then you should recheck all services and startup items.  To permanently remove, not just disable items you can use a program like ccleaner.
Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018

I'm a huge fan of NirSoft's free utilities...been using many of them for many years, and a really good one is WhatInStartup:

This provides a much better view than msconfig of what is in startup.

On an unrelated note, if you'd like more info on installed programs than provided in Programs & Features, give NirSoft's MyUninstaller a spin (it's among the very best of his tools):

Regards, Joe
Acronis in Gartner 2019 MQ for datacenter backup

It is an honor to be featured in Gartner 2019 Magic Quadrant for Datacenter Backup and Recovery Solutions. Gartner’s MQ sets a high standard and earning a place on their grid is a great affirmation that Acronis is delivering on our mission to protect all data, apps, and systems.



Interesting software utilities! I downloaded both your suggestions and (of course) do not completely know what to do with the information I now have, after running them.

For example, in WhatInStartup, there are items which I do not even recognize. One example is "CheckPoint Cleanup" that has no entry for file created or modified time. Also, the Process Path ends with: ...AppData\Local\Temp\cpes_clean_launcher.exe

If I had to categorize the 33 items listed in WhatInStartup, they would be:

-Products I recognize and need
-Products that look familiar but I don't know for sure that I need them
-Unfamiliar products that I don't know what they do, why they're there, or if they should be deleted

One example is " 3.2. I have some Open Office applications loaded on my PC, but very rarely use them. Is my assumption correct that if I rarely use the applications, I don't need this product loaded at StartUp?

As for MyUninstaller, I have 412 items listed, some being duplicates. Most have "no" in the column "obsolete" and "yes" in the column "uninstall." What does that mean? I don't know if the software is suggesting that I uninstall all of the items that have yes, in the uninstall column or what?

Similar to the other software, if the application name is not familiar, I am not sure if some part of the system needs it to run properly or its extraneous software that should be deleted. Any suggestions on how I could tell?

Thanks again.
Joe WinogradDeveloper
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018

> Is my assumption correct that if I rarely use the applications, I don't need this product loaded at StartUp?

Not necessarily. A few points. (1) There's a big difference between "rarely" and "never". :) (2) It may or may not be easy to load something after Startup, so if you're ever going to use something, let it load at Startup. (3) It's usually not a whole product that is being loaded at Startup, but just some supporting functionality, which may or may not be needed for the whole product to run. (4) Even if it's not crucial for the whole product to run, it may or may not be a feature that you need/want. For example, I use imaging software that includes a print driver. In order for the print driver to work, a module must be loaded at Startup. But if it isn't, the rest of the product works just simply means the user can't use the print driver, which is OK for lots of folks.

> Most have "no" in the column "obsolete" and "yes" in the column "uninstall." What does that mean?

From the Help menu (all of the columns are described in the Help):

Obsolete: If the value in this column is "Yes", the uninstall entry is probably obsolete, and the application is no longer installed on your computer. (JW comment: the word "probably" is important! I have seen entries where Obsolete is Yes, but I know for a fact that the program is still installed.)

Uninstall: Tells you whether the application provides an uninstall support. If the value in this column is "No", you cannot uninstall the application. Entries with no uninstall support are displayed only if you check the "Show Items With No Uninstall" option in the View menu.

> Any suggestions on how I could tell?

My personal opinion (and that's all it is!), is not to uninstall anything unless you're absolutely certain it's not needed. Application names are not always well-chosen or familiar-sounding, and uninstalling items based on their having unfamiliar names stands a good chance of sending your system into chaos. Regards, Joe
Top Expert 2013
>>  I had to make changes to the Services and Startup tab contents (in msconfig) in order to troubleshoot.  <<   this should be used to identify the problem cause
>>   Situation now is the original problem is fixed   <<  this should mean you enabled all the "unticked" ones again, leaving one  - which one?
you should then :
-uninstall/reinstall this program, or service
-troubleshoot the cause of this problem further

the goal is to have NONE unticked again in msconfig
Hi photoman

There have been some very good suggestions made so far.  Perhaps we can assist you more directly if you can generate a text report using Nir Sofer's "WhatInStartup" program and attach it here.  There are two ways you can do this:

Open the program and use the menus as follows:
Edit > Select All
File > Save Selected Items.
Choose a file name, eg. "Startup_System_Report.txt" and destination directory for the report.

From the Command Line:
Close the WhatInStartup program if it is running.
In the folder where you have the program file "WhatInStartup.exe" save the attached *.cmd file and double-click it.
This will create a report with the name "Startup_System_Report.txt"

Once we see the attached report we will be able to guide you with what you probably need to have enabled and what you don't need to have running when your computer starts up.

The MSCONFIG dialog has always been a real pain to use because it isn't wide enough for all the columns to show all the details.  That's the reason other third party applications were written.

I would advise against ever disabling anything in the "Services" tab of the MSCONFIG dialog.  If you are ever tempted to, then make sure you tick the box to hide Microsoft Services and only show 3rd-party ones.  Services differ from normal startup programs in that they can be set to Automatic, Manual, or Disabled using the proper Windows administrative window, and additionally there are settings that control what other Services depend on them, what Services they depend on, and also what happens if the service is abnormally terminated.  For this reason you tend to find that many Anti-Virus applications configure themselves as Services rather than just as regular startup programs.  They are harder for random malware or careless users to tamper with.

Disabling a Service in the MSCONFIG dialog doesn't have the failsafe prompts about what other processes might be affected if you disable a service, whereas the Services Management Console will display warnings and prompts.

People like the guy who calls himself Black Viper have spent ages compiling details of what Windows Services can be disabled or set to manual:

As a generalised guide to regular startup programs, there are probably only a couple that need to run, a handful that are beneficial to your needs and usage, and the rest won't have to be running from when Windows boots.  You mentioned the startup item for OpenOffice.  This is just a "quick start" process that loads bits and pieces of the application into a ready state so that the applications open files faster.  If you only use OpenOffice every other day, then you won't need it running from startup.

What you really need to do is familiarise yourself with what icons are in the System Tray (Notification Area at the clock) and determine what happens when you click or right-click them.  Usually if there is an "Exit" option on the right-click, then it's a pretty unimportant one that will have shortcuts in the program's Start Menu group to launch it again.

The first place to disable startups is from the program itself.  In the user options for the programs look for tick boxes that allow you to choose whether to start the program with Windows or not.  You will find this option in the OpenOffice user options.

If you never change your screen resolution, then you hardly need a little "Quick-Change Resolution" icon cluttering up the System Tray.  Look in the Start Menu for the program folder eg. ATi, nVidia, or maybe the maker of your monitor, for a shortcut that opens exactly the same dialog as right-clicking the System Tray icon does.  If you find one, then look in that dialog or on the Right-Click menu for options to disable it from automatic startup because you don't need two ways to open the same thing when needed.

Do you need Skype or some other messenger program starting with Windows?  If not, and as long as you have start menu shortcuts to open them when you need, then open the programs and look for the option to disable this.

We can help to keep you right.
The best way is to compare that settings with another computer (if you have any identical/similar).


Thanks everyone. Part of my problem is that I don't really understand either the Services or the Start up tab purposes, and therefore can't make any logical decisions on what should or should not be in them.

I've included the text file of WhatInStartup as suggested, and let me give you some picture of how I use my computer and which programs are relevant and not, in case that helps decide what should be kept or deleted.
1- the programs I pretty much use every day are: Microsoft Outlook, Firefox, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, RoboForm, Windows Explorer, APC Uninterrupted Power Supply/APC Power Supply, FB Backup, Logitech Performance mouse, Microsoft Security Essentials and Phrase Express.
2-The programs I frequently use (in addition to #1) are: Notepad, Adobe's Lightroom,
HTML Kit, Zoner Photo Sudio, Fences, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, CompanionLink Synchronize (for My Smart Phone to Synchronize to Outlook), Foxit reader
3-The programs I use occasionally (once every few weeks) are: Adobe's Photoshop, Cinta Notes, Internet Explorer, 7-zip, Olympus recorder software –DSS Player Standard (Integrates into Dragon NaturallySpeaking)
4-The programs I use, but rarely, are: Xobni (add on for Excel), iKill, Skype, Open Office, Adobe Reader,
5-Programs that I used to use, but no longer do: anything related to Palm desktop or hot sync (my old Palm smart phone has been replaced by an android Samsung smart phone)

Having said that, in looking at the list from MyUninstaller, there are probably another 20-40 applications which I use very infrequently – sort of as needed, like Google Earth and Malwarebytes. If you need more details, let me know.

I've recently purchased a new Brother laser printer and deleted an HP inkjet printer, so anything related to updating HP printer drivers is no longer necessary.

Also, I do not have another computer so any comparison is not possible.
As for the System Tray icons, I currently have 16, of which most have a context you option to either Exit or Hide. If you need the names of them, let me know.

Thanks again
Thank you photoman. Having a report certainly does help, and your further explanations are very useful.  I will make up a list of what you should safely be able to dispense with and will post back later, if someone else doesn't do so first.  It would be useful if you could type out the names of your 16 System Tray icons, which should normally be visible by just hanging the mouse over them.  It's probable that quite a few will already be mentioned in the startup report and others will be Windows default ones, but maybe there are some that haven't been covered that need to be addressed.


Thank you very much.

I've noticed that the content of the 16 icons changes occasionally; this time there are only 15 visible – see attached document for names.
Fellow 2017
Most Valuable Expert 2018
Yes, the icons in the System Tray (also known as the Notification Area) can vary. For example, you have a "Safely Remove Hardware & Eject Media" icon. That's because there's at least one device plugged into your computer. If there were none, it would not be there. Another example is that you have a "Microsoft Office Outlook" icon. That's typically there when you have a new message and it will go away when you read the new message. An example for me is that I use a backup program which runs time-based profiles. Whenever a profile is running, it puts an icon in the tray. When the profile terminates, the icon goes away.

One other may customize the tray so that it always shows all icons (rather than just Notifications). I run with this setting as I like to see all of the icons all of the time. You may set this option, or set the options for each icon individually, via Control Panel>Notification Area Icons, which brings up the following dialog:
Control Panel>Notification Area IconsRegards, Joe

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial