One of the biggest barriers to a speedy Windows computing experience is the countless amounts of bloatware that can build up on a system over a period of time, or indeed, is already pre-installed when you take a computer off the shelf. Throughout the 90s and 2000’s Internet Service Providers in New Zealand, and Printer or Scanner companies were also guilty of shipping “install CDs” which were not only often unnecessary, but also contained software that would bog down a users computer under the guise of security or convenience.
Often during our sessions with clients we would see computers so inundated with bloatware of various kinds that the system would run so slow as to be unusable, and we could not even get to the Control Panel to uninstall the software in question.
Msconfig is a tool in Windows, that amongst other things allows us to disable a number of applications and background processes that load immediately on boot. Disabling bloatware and other heavy services can have an immediate positive impact on the performance of a system. Sometimes there will be more complicated factors, such as malware that refuses to be disabled, but we will come to that later. In most cases this performance boost allows us to quickly get in and remove the unwanted software entirely (or if it is needed some of the time, just make sure it won’t auto-start again) and clean up other parts of the system much quicker.
When using this tool, you will be presented with a lot of options and it may become confusing, but we are going to focus on just Startup Items.
To access Msconfig the easiest way is to bring up the run or search console using Windows Key + R and typing “msconfig” into the prompt and hitting Enter - this should bring up the Msconfig panel immediately.
The first tab we want to navigate to on the Msconfig panel is the Startup tab - this is where our startup items are listed. In really severe slow system cases we could simply untick everything under this tab and have no startup items at all - this won’t affect the system negatively in any way but if users do have some startup items for convenience, these may need to be re-enabled later.
Otherwise, you can take your time to be more selective and disable only items that you know are causing problems. Some common startup applications that can cause slowdown issues are Adobe Acrobat Helper, McAffee or Symantec Security Scan applications.
After rebooting you will hopefully see an immediate and dramatic increase in performance, but there is still more to be done in order to get back to an optimal Windows experience, which we will continue to cover going forward.