System Configuration (msconfig) is a tool that can help identify problems that might prevent Windows from starting correctly. Using System Configuration, you can start Windows with common services and startup apps turned off and then turn them back on, one at a time. If a problem doesn't occur when an app or service is turned off, but does occur when the service is turned on, then that service could be the cause of the problem.

  • Open System Configuration by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering msconfig in the search box, and then tapping or clicking msconfig. Administrator permission required You might be asked for an admin password or to confirm your choice.

The following table describes the tabs and options that are available in System Configuration:

Tab Description
Tab

General

Description

Lists choices for startup configuration modes:

  • Normal startup. Starts Windows in the usual manner. Use this mode to start Windows after you're done using the other two modes to troubleshoot the problem.


  • Diagnostic startup. Starts Windows with basic services and drivers only. This mode can help rule out basic Windows files as the problem.

    To start Windows in Diagnostic startup mode

    • On the General tab, tap or click Diagnostic startup, tap or click OK, and then tap or click Restart.

      If the problem occurs, then basic Windows files or drivers might be damaged. To learn more about troubleshooting this problem, see How to refresh, reset, or restore your PC.

      If the problem doesn't occur, then use Selective startup mode to try to find the problem by turning individual services and startup apps on or off.

  • Selective startup. Starts Windows with basic services and drivers and the other services and startup apps that you select.

    To start Windows in Selective startup mode

    1. On the General tab, tap or click Selective startup, and then clear the Load system services and Load startup items check boxes.

    2. Select the Load system services check box, tap or click OK, and then tap or click Restart.

    3. If the problem occurs after restarting, do one or both (if necessary) of the following tasks:

      Identify the system service that's causing the problem.

      • Tap or click the Services tab, tap or click Disable all, select the check box for the first service that's listed, and then restart your PC. If the problem doesn't occur, then you can eliminate the first service as the cause of the problem.

      • With the first service selected, select the second service check box, and then restart the PC.

      • Repeat this process until you reproduce the problem. If you can't reproduce the problem, then you can eliminate system services as the cause of the problem.

      Identify the startup item that's causing the problem.

      • Tap or click the Startup tab, and tap or click Open Task Manager.

      • Turn off all startup items except the first one by tapping or clicking each startup item, and then tapping or clicking Disable. Restart your PC. If the problem doesn't occur, then you can eliminate the first startup item as the cause of the problem.

      • With the first startup item selected, tap or click the second startup item, and then tap or click Enable. Restart your PC. Repeat this process until you reproduce the problem.

Tab

Boot

Description

Shows configuration options for the operating system and advanced debugging settings, including:

  • Safe boot: Minimal. On startup, opens the Windows graphical user interface (File Explorer) in safe mode running only critical system services. Networking is disabled.

  • Safe boot: Alternate shell. On startup, opens the Windows command prompt in safe mode running only critical system services. Networking and File Explorer are disabled.

  • Safe boot: Active Directory repair. On startup, opens File Explorer in safe mode running critical system services and Active Directory.

  • Safe boot: Network. On startup, opens File Explorer in safe mode running only critical system services. Networking is enabled.

  • No GUI boot. Doesn't display the Windows Welcome screen when starting.

  • Boot log. Stores all information from the startup process in the file %SystemRoot%Ntbtlog.txt.

  • Base video. On startup, opens File Explorer in minimal VGA mode. This loads standard VGA drivers instead of video drivers specific to the video hardware on the PC.

  • OS boot information. Shows driver names as drivers are being loaded during the startup process.

  • Timeout. Determines how long the boot menu is displayed before the default boot entry is automatically selected. The default is set to 30 seconds.

  • Make all boot settings permanent. Doesn't track changes made in System Configuration. Options can be changed later using System Configuration, but must be changed manually. When this option is selected, you can't roll back your changes by selecting Normal startup on the General tab.

Advanced options:

  • Number of processors. Limits the number of processors used on a multiprocessor system. If the check box is selected, the system boots using only the number of processors in the drop-down list.

  • Maximum memory. Specifies the maximum amount of physical memory used by the operating system to simulate a low memory configuration. The value in the text box is megabytes (MB).

  • PCI Lock. Prevents Windows from reallocating I/O and IRQ resources on the PCI bus. The I/O and memory resources set by the BIOS or UEFI are preserved.

  • Debug. Enables kernel-mode debugging for device driver development. For more info, go to the Windows Driver Kit website.

  • Global debug settings. Specifies the debugger connection settings on this PC for a kernel debugger to communicate with a debugger host. The debugger connection between the host and target PCs can be Serial, IEEE 1394, or USB.

  • Debug port. Specifies using Serial as the connection type and the serial port. The default port is COM 1.

  • Baud rate. Specifies the baud rate to use when Debug port is selected and the debug connection type is Serial. This setting is optional. Valid values for baud are 9600, 19,200, 38,400, 57,600, and 115,200. The default baud rate is 115,200 bps.

  • Channel. Specifies using 1394 as the debug connection type and specifies the channel number to use. The value for channel must be a decimal integer between 0 and 62, inclusive, and must match the channel number used by the host PC. The channel specified doesn't depend on the physical 1394 port chosen on the adapter. The default value for channel is 0.

  • USB target name. Specifies a string value to use when the debug connection type is USB. This string can be any value.

Tab

Services

Description

Lists all of the services that start when the PC starts, along with their current status (Running or Stopped). Use the Services tab to enable or disable individual services at startup to troubleshoot which services might be contributing to startup problems.

Select Hide all Microsoft services to show only third-party apps in the services list. Clear the check box for a service to disable it the next time you start the PC. If you've chosen Selective startup on the General tab, you must either choose Normal startup on the General tab or select the service’s check box to start it again at startup.

Warning  Disabling services that normally run at startup might cause some apps to stop working or result in system instability. Don't disable services in this list unless you know they're not essential to your PC's operation. Selecting Disable all won't disable some Microsoft services required for the operating system to start.

Tab

Startup

Description

You can now manage startup items in Task Manager. The Startup tab in Task Manager lists apps and services that run when the PC starts up, along with the name of their publisher, status, and startup impact.


  • Open Task Manager by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Task Manager in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Task Manager.

Note  Disabling apps or services that normally run at startup might result in related apps or services starting more slowly or not running as expected.

Tab

Tools

Description

Provides a convenient list of diagnostic tools and other advanced tools that you can run.

For info about advanced startup options, see Windows Startup Settings (including safe mode). For more in-depth info, go to the Microsoft website for IT professionals.