MSConfig, or Microsoft System Configuration Utility, (or simply System Configuration in Windows Vista) is a utility to troubleshoot the Windows startup process. It is bundled with all Microsoft Windows operating systems since Windows 98 except Windows 2000. Windows 95 and Windows 2000 users can download the utility as well, although it was not designed for them. MSConfig modifies which programs run at startup, edits certain configuration files, and simplifies controls over Windows services. As part of the base Windows install, MSConfig can be accessed by running 'msconfig' on any system on which the user has administrator access.

Prior to Windows Vista, files that can be edited through MSConfig include AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.SYS, WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI on Windows 9x systems, and WIN.INI, SYSTEM.INI and BOOT.INI on Windows NT systems prior to Windows Vista. The chief benefit to using MSConfig to edit these files is that it provides a simplified GUI to manipulate sections of those files and the Windows registry tree pertaining to the Windows boot sequence. Using MSConfig, Windows can also be configured to perform a diagnostic startup (load a minimum set of drivers, programs and services).


Some of its functionality varies by Windows versions:

  • In Windows 98 and Windows Me, it can configure advanced troubleshooting settings pertaining to these operating systems. It can also launch common system tools.
  • In Windows 98, it can back up and restore startup files.
  • In Windows Me, it has also been updated with three new tabs called "Static VxDs", "Environment" and "International". The Static VxDs tab allows users to enable or disable static virtual device drivers to be loaded at startup, the Environment tab allows users to enable or disable environment variables, and the International tab allows users to set international language keyboard layout settings that were formerly set via the real-mode MS-DOS configuration files. A "Cleanup" button on the "Startup" tab allows cleaning up invalid or deleted startup entries.
  • In Windows Me and Windows XP versions, it can restore an individual file from the original Windows installation set.
  • On Windows NT-based operating systems prior to Windows Vista, it can set various BOOT.INI switches.
  • In Windows XP and Windows Vista, it can hide all operating system services for troubleshooting.
  • In Windows Vista and later, the tool gained additional support for launching a variety of tools, such as system information, other configuration areas, such as Internet options, and the ability to enable/disable UAC. An update is available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 that adds the Tools tab. Under Windows Vista, it allows configuring various switches for Windows Boot Manager and Boot Configuration Data.

How to Run

  • Windows 95 and Windows 98 - click on the start menu, click on find files, and find MSconfig.
  • Windows XP – open the Start menu, click on "Run", then type "msconfig".
  • Windows Vista – open the Start menu and type "msconfig" into the search field.


External links

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