...How to turn things off...

Most people have installed software that has managed to imbed itself in your system in such a way that it always starts up whenever you start up your computer. This behavior is quite welcome in such things as virus scanners and backup utilities. With other software it can be darn annoying. This webpage attempts to document where some of the start-up items are and how to disable them.

If you are running Windows (flavors: Win9x/Me/2K/XP) then you can run msconfig.exe to determine what is running and where it was initiated from. Third party tools are often more useful. Some people prefer the services.msc management console which prevents you from disabling services vital to boot your system.





Startup Folder

Startup Probably the most obvious startup location is the Startup menu folder (Start | Programs | Startup). This merely contains shortcuts to programs you want to run at startup. This is actually the last group of startups to be executed, but everything within this group can be launched at any time, so you can basically move all the shortcuts to an alternative folder

Windows XP Startup Folder Location(s)

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start\Menu\Programs\Startup
C:\Documents and Settings\username\Start\Menu\Programs\Startup


WIN.INI exists to provide backward compatibility with older 16-bit programs. Normally, there won't be any startups in here, but there are exceptions. The difference between the Load= and Run= lines is that the Load= line is used to load a background service whereas the Run= line is used to run a program normally, in its own window. Multiple entries on either of these lines are separated by a single space. Disabled items are stored in "noload=" and "norun=" lines.

Useful Resources

Software Name Website Address Type Comment
Advanced StartUp Cop shareware control what programs run at system startup when you turn on or logon to your computer
Process Viewer for Windows freeware PrcView is a process viewer utility that displays detailed information about processes running under Windows. For each process it displays memory, threads and module usage. For each DLL it shows full path and version information
Startups website central resource for PC users and Tech Support staff alike who are concerned about the poor performance of their PCs due to the number of programs that run at system start-up
Startup Control Panel Freeware nifty control panel applet that allows you to easily configure which programs run when your computer starts
Startup Man Freeware designed to take control of all those pesky programs and background services that load and run at log
Startup Cop,4149,897146,00.asp Freeware PC Magazine utility - control which programs Windows launches at start-up

Services/Tasks Lists

Website Address Description Task List Programs Startup Problems Windows XP Home and Professional Service Configurations Services Guide for Windows XP Glossary of Windows 2000 Services

Safe Mode for Windows 2000/XP Users

To get into the Windows 2000/XP Safe mode as the computer is booting press and hold your "F8 Key" which should bring up the "Windows Advanced Options Menu" as shown below. Use your arrow keys to move to "Safe Mode" and press your Enter key.

If you have trouble Getting into Windows 2000 or Windows XP Safe mode after several attempts try turning off the computer as it is booting into Windows. When the computer is turned on the next time Windows should notice that the computer did not successfully boot and give you the Safe Mode screen.

Note: with some computers if you press and hold a key as the computer is booting you will get a stuck key message as the computer is booting. If this occurs, instead of pressing and holding the "F8 key", try tapping the "F8 key" continuously until you get the startup menu.

Startup options for Windows XP

If your computer will not start, you might be able to start it in safe mode. In safe mode, Windows uses default settings (VGA monitor, Microsoft mouse driver, no network connections, and the minimum device drivers required to start Windows).

If your computer will not start after you install new software, you might be able to start it with minimal services in safe mode and then change your computer settings or remove the newly installed software that is causing the problem. You can reinstall the service pack or the entire operating system, if necessary.

If a symptom does not reappear when you start in safe mode, you can eliminate the default settings and minimum device drivers as possible causes of the computer's inability to start.

The startup options are:

Safe Mode

Starts using only basic files and drivers (mouse, except serial mice; monitor; keyboard; mass storage; base video; default system services; and no network connections). If your computer does not start successfully using safe mode, you might need to use the Recovery Console feature to repair your system.

For more information, see To start the computer in safe mode

Safe Mode with Networking

Starts using only basic files and drivers, and network connections.

Safe Mode with Command Prompt

Starts using only basic files and drivers. After logging on, the command prompt is displayed instead of the Windows graphical interface.

For more information, see To start your computer at a command prompt

Enable Boot Logging

Starts while logging all the drivers and services that were loaded (or not loaded) by the system to a file. This file is called ntbtlog.txt and it is located in the %windir% directory. Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, and Safe Mode with Command Prompt add to the boot log a list of all the drivers and services that are loaded. The boot log is useful in determining the exact cause of system startup problems.

Enable VGA Mode

Starts using the basic VGA driver. This mode is useful when you have installed a new driver for your video card that is causing Windows not to start properly. The basic video driver is always used when you start in Safe Mode (either Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, or Safe Mode with Command Prompt).

Last Known Good Configuration

Starts using the registry information and drivers that Windows saved at the last shutdown. Any changes made since the last successful startup will be lost. Use Last Known Good Configuration only in cases of incorrect configuration. It does not solve problems caused by corrupted or missing drivers or files. For more information, see To start the computer using the last known good configuration

Directory Service Restore Mode

This is for the server operating systems and is only used in restoring the SYSVOL directory and the Active Directory directory service on a domain controller.

Debugging Mode

Starts while sending debug information through a serial cable to another computer.

If you are using, or have used, Remote Installation Services to install Windows on your computer, you might see additional options related to restoring or recovering your system using Remote Install Services.

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