The System Configuration utility or Msconfig.exe is an application that helps the user find problems with regards to the configuration of Windows XP. It is different from the application that manages the programs that run automatically upon startup.

The methods to be described in the following paragraphs are meant for advanced computer users. You might need to ask someone for help or seek contact support when you are not comfortable with advanced troubleshooting. To find contact support, simply visit the Microsoft Web site.

To use the System configuration utility, you must be logged in with an Administrator’s account. Two methods are used to be able to troubleshoot configuration issues in the System Configuration utility. These methods are described below and you should read carefully to understand each method.

Method One: Diagnostic and Selection Startup Modes

Diagnostic Startup allows Windows to configure the basic drivers and software to load upon startup. The system disables Microsoft services like Networking, Error Reporting, Plug and Play, and Event Logging for the meantime. It also permanently deletes all restore points so it is not advisable to use if you want to save the restore points in the System Restore utility. To do diagnostic startup, these steps are to be followed:

1.    Click Start, then click the Run command, and, afterwards, type msconfig, click OK.
2.    Go to the tab that is labeled General. Click the Diagnostic Startup command, and then, afterwards, click the OK button.
3.    Restart your computer.

Selective Startup allows the user to select the files and settings that he wants to load upon startup. The following options are available: Process System.ini File, Process Win.ini file, Load System Services, Load Startup Items. No options are selected by default. But when you check any checkbox, that configuration file will process upon restart. If a checkbox is selected and dimmed, it means that some items are still loading. If a checkbox is unselected and it is dimmed, the configuration file is not present on your computer. The Use Original BOOT.INI option button cannot be changed.

1.    Click Start, Run, and type msconfig, click OK.
2.    Click Selective Startup from the General tab.
3.    Select or clear your desired configuration settings
4.    Click OK.
5.    Restart your computer.
6.    Repeat this Selective Startup procedure until you find the cause of the problem.

Method Two: System Restore

System Restore helps find the cause of configuration errors by going back to specific restore points. To do this in the System Configuration utility, here are the steps:

1.    Click Start, Run, and type msconfig, click OK.
2.    Click Launch System Restore from the General tab.
3.    Choose Restore my computer to an earlier time, click Next.
4.    You will now see a calendar with some bold dates. These dates in bold are the possible restore points. Click the most recent one to view its information.
5.    Click an installation restore point, click Next.
6.    Close other programs.
7.    Click Next to start the System Restore process.
8.    You computer will now restart automatically.
9.    Repeat the steps selecting another restore point until you fix the problem.