Windows 95/98

Home
Windows Support Menu

 

System Tools

System Configuration Utility

Filename Msconfig.exe
File location \windows\system
Inf file associated? No
How to launch - MSInfo or.. Start - Run - Msconfig

System Configuration Utility (Msconfig.exe) replaces Sysedit from previous Windows versions and automates the routine troubleshooting steps that Microsoft Technical Support engineers use when diagnosing issues with the Windows 98 configuration. This tool permits you to modify the system configuration through a process of elimination with check boxes, reducing the risk of typing errors associated with Notepad and Sysedit.

The System Configuration Utility provides a graphical interface for configuring the Windows 98 startup environment. System Configuration Utility lets you troubleshoot by creating a clean environment to test against. If a problem is not reproducible after performing a Diagnostic startup, a process of elimination can be used to identify the source of the issue.

System Configuration Utility also can create a backup copy of your system files before you begin a troubleshooting session. Create backup copies of your system files to ensure that the modifications made during your troubleshooting session can be reversed.

After visiting MSInfo to identify support issues, try using Safe Mode to isolate the problem. From here you can go to MSConfig to remove any variables involved.

Tip:Launch the System Configuration Utility from MSInfo Tools menu.

To start System Configuration Utility click System Configuration Utility on the Tools menu in MSInfo. The following pages describe the purpose of the tabs displayed in System Configuration Utility.

General Tab

Enables or prevents the loading of all or specific device drivers and software. The default setting is Normal startup. All device drivers and software are loaded.

To create a clean environment for troubleshooting click Diagnostic startup. After clicking OK, click Yes to restart your computer.

The Windows 98 Startup Menu appears when your machine restarts. Select Step-by-step confirmation from the menu option, and process all but the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files. If this option causes your computer to stop responding, restart the computer, select Step-by-step confirmation again, and process all but the Autoexec.bat file. Some computers will not start properly without processing the Config.sys file.

After Windows 98 starts, determine whether the symptoms are still present. Selecting Diagnostic startup will temporarily change your monitor's Color palette setting to 16 colors and your Desktop area setting to 640 by 480 pixels. If the OK button in System Configuration Utility is no longer visible, click the File menu and then click Close to save any changes you make.

Selective Startup processes a file based on your selecting it. If an option is not available it is because it does not exist.

You can also backup or restore the Config.sys, Autoexec.bat, System.ini and Winstart.bat files.

Tip:When clicking Selective startup the original files are renamed with the extension *.TSH.

Creating a Clean Environment

Establishing a baseline configuration ensures that the modifications you make during your troubleshooting session are reversible.

To create a clean environment for troubleshooting

Click the Diagnostic startup option, click OK, and then restart the computer as prompted.

On the Windows 98 Startup menu now enabled, click Step-by-Step, and then choose to process all but the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files.

If the system stops responding while it is bypassing these files, restart the computer and step through the files line by line, choosing to load all drive overlay and compression software required to access your startup disk.

Determine whether the issue occurs in this environment. If the issue occurs with the normal startup disabled, investigate the following:

  1. Advanced troubleshooting options, detailed later in this section.
  2. Protected-mode device driver configurations: For information detailing the troubleshooting steps, refer to the "Protected-Mode Device Drivers" section in Knowledge Base article Q156126, "Troubleshooting Windows 95 Using Safe Mode."
  3. Missing, corrupted, or replaced files (refer to the System File Checker discussed later in this module).
  4. A corrupted registry (refer to the Registry Checker Utility discussed later in this module).
  5. Viruses.
  6. Faulty hardware settings (CMOS).
  7. Unsuccessful upgrade of previous Windows configuration.

Selective Startup

If the issue does not occur with normal startup disabled, isolate the source of the issue by using the selective startup options.

To use the selective startup options to isolate the source of the issue

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type MSConfig, and then click OK.
  3. In the System Configuration Utility dialog box, click the General tab.
  4. Under Startup selection, select Selective startup.

Using a process of elimination, enable options until the issue occurs. Once the issue reappears, isolate it by narrowing the Selective startup options down to one source.

To determine the source of the problem

  1. Identify issues with the real-mode configuration by disabling all but the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files and restarting the computer.
  2. Enable System.ini and Win.ini and restart the computer when prompted to determine whether the problem lies in the Windows configuration files.
  3. Test the software loading at startup by enabling the Winstart.bat and Load startup group items options and restarting the system.

Advanced Button

The Advanced Troubleshooting Settings dialog box provides further options to narrow the scope of configuration issues with Windows 98. These options will invoke many of the diagnostic switches for Windows 98 (equivalent to WIN.COM /D:<switch>). Note that the Use SCSI Double-buffering option will not be available if the system requires Dblbuff.sys to gain access to the drive.

Disable Fast Shutdown

When placing a checkmark in this box, it disables Windows 98 shutdown performance enhancements. Shutdown enhancements in Windows 98 include no longer asking the network for permission to close open shares, or asking programs for permission to shutdown. Windows simply sends a message stating it is shutting down. (If a program has a file open that has changed, it will stop the shutdown with a dialog asking the user to save the changes.)

Disable UDF file system

Disables support for Universal Disk Format (UDF) file system. Use this to troubleshoot problems encountered with proprietary DVD movie players that are incompatible with UDF.

Enable Pentium F0 (Lock CmpXchg) workaround

This setting provides a method to work around an erratum in the Intel P5 series of processors (Pentium and Pentium MMX). The processor stops responding (hangs) if a particular illegal instruction sequence is issued. This issue should not occur with a normal program, it would have to be generated maliciously. If this setting is enabled, Windows 98 enables a protection routine to avoid hanging. This setting can interfere with some kernel mode applications (such as debuggers), so it should not be used while debugging programs.

Config.sys and Autoexec.bat

With the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files, uncheck the lines you don't want to run. Unchecking a line edits the file and adds REM TSHOOT: to remark out the line. To edit a line, click it and then click Edit.

Items that contain the Windows logo (flag) are considered safe. However, use your best judgement, as some parameters may be excessive.

You can also change the order of items loaded by clicking a line and selecting the Move Up or Move Down buttons. To add a line click New.

System.ini and Win.ini

With the System.ini and Win.ini files, uncheck the lines you don't want to run. Unchecking a line edits the file and adds ; REM TSHOOT: to remark out the line. To edit a line, click it and then click Edit.

Items that contain the Windows logo (flag) are using a default setting.

Startup

The Startup tab allows you to enable and disable items loaded at startup. If you've ever installed a third-party utility and it places an icon in the Systray, the Startup tab is the place to keep it from loading.

Deactivated Startup Items

In the registry items are moved to run- or runservices- in HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\.

Items loaded in the startup group are moved to Programs, Disabled Startup Items.

Chronological Steps for Using MSConfig

Select Diagnostic startup to create a clean software environment for troubleshooting and click OK to restart the computer.

The Windows 98 Startup menu will be presented. Select Step-by-Step from the menu options, choosing to process all but the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files. If the system hangs bypassing these files, restart the computer and step through them line by line, choosing to load all drive overlay and compression software the drive requires.

  1. Determine if the symptoms are alleviated in the clean environment.

    If the symptoms are alleviated, a process of elimination can be employed to identify the source of the problem using MSConfig. Isolate the source of the issue using the Selective startup options.

    If the symptoms still manifest after a Diagnostic startup, investigate the following troubleshooting resources:

    • Advanced troubleshooting options in MSConfig
    • Protected-mode device driver configuration
    • A file is missing, corrupt, or has been replaced (refer to the System File Checker)
    • Registry corruption (refer to the Registry Checker)
    • Virus
    • Faulty hardware/Hardware settings (CMOS)
    • Unsuccessful upgrade of previous Windows configuration

  2. Isolate the issue using the Selective startup options. Using a process of elimination, enable options until the symptoms are reproducible. Once the problem reappears, isolate the issue by narrowing the suspect options down to one source.

    • Identify issues with the real-mode configuration by disabling all but the Config.sys and Autoexec.bat files and restarting.
    • Enable the System.ini and Win.ini and restart as prompted to determine if the problem lies in the Windows configuration files.
    • Test the software loading at startup by enabling the Winstart.bat and Startup options and restarting the system.

  3. Once you've identified the source of the problem, identify the problem using the appropriate tab(s).

The CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT tabs intelligently identifies settings and minimizes the risks inherent in editing configuration files using the following conventions:

  • Disabled checkboxes indicate lines commented out by the tool
  • Settings used when the file's Selective startup option is disabled are identified with a Windows logo
  • Previously commented lines are listed without a checkbox
  • A yellow pencil identifies lines edited from within the tool
  • The System.ini and Win.ini tabs follow the aforementioned conventions as well as identify sections with a yellow folder. Entire sections can by commented out by disabling the checkbox for the section.
  • The Startup Tab lists items loading at startup from the Startup group, Win.ini load= and run=, and the Registry.

Points to Remember:

  • The System Configuration Utility is the second stop on your troubleshooting tour.
  • Launch the System Configuration Utility from MSInfo Tools menu.
  • The System Configuration Utility replaces Sysedit and can be used to control the Windows 98 startup environment.
  • Use the System Configuration Utility to edit the Config.sys, Autoexec.bat, System.ini, Win.ini files and the Startup Group.
  • The View menu also allows you to open other troubleshooting controls in Windows 98. They include: Control Panel, Device Manger, Printers Folder, Display Settings, Multimedia Settings and Fonts Folder
  • When you disable an entry in System.ini or Win.ini, ;rem Tshoot: is added to the front of the particular line.
  • When you disable an entry in Config.sys or Autoexec.bat, rem Tshoot: is added above and before the particular line.
  • When a line changes through editing in the System Configuration Utility, a pencil icon appears next to the line edited.
  • When creating a backup, the files are renamed with the .Pss extension in the same folder as the original.