I remember back at the 1997 MVP Summit at Microsoft in Redmond, Greg and I
were sitting in a training session, where a marvelous Microsoft engineer, named
Hazel, was explaining one of his favorite tools that was going to be available
in Windows 98.
The room full of technogeeks couldn't help but share Hazel's enthusiasm as
he explained all the great information that we'd be able to access via the System
Configuration Utility. And he was rightit's a fantastic tool.
Before we venture into this tool to show you the type of information easily
available to youallow me to pass along this warning: If you should go
into this utility and start messing around with it in such a way that you suddenly
hear your conscience screaming "don't click that!", but you go ahead
and do it anyway without getting more information first; well, pardon me if
I roll on the floor laughing at you when you say you trashed your system!
With that obligatory idiot-proofing warning stated, let's take a cautious
look at what you can find in there. On your Windows 98 system, click Start/Programs/Accessories/System
Tools. There you'll see a listing for System Information, click it.
Last month, Beth Melton explained some of the great information you can find
via the System
Information dialog. But if we dig a little deeper, you'll find the System
Configuration Utility. When the System Information dialog appears,
click on the Tools menu and there you'll see the System Configuration
Utility (SCU), click it.
Important Note! You can only use the commands above on a Windows 98 system! In Windows ME and XP, Microsoft tucked the System Configuration Utility away
for some reason. But you can still access it by clicking Start/Run (or
just hit the Windows + R keycombo) and type msconfig and hit Enter. However, it was never included in Windows NT or Windows 2000. You can still use it on those systems; however, you need to swipe a copy of it from another system, preferably a Windows XP system, since NT and 2000 versions use the same kernel (core system code) as XP. If you can't get one yourself, you can download this utility from this The Tech Guide at this link: http://www.thetechguide.com/downloads.html
The SCU dialog box will appear. Just look at all the cool stuff in there that
you have no idea how to use!
Now, in this article, I won't be digging deeply into all this stuff, cos' there's
a lot of information here. And remember my idiot-proofing warningif you
don't understand what it does, leave it alone! But also know that you
can click Start/Help and look into the Windows 98 Help files to look
up more details on these items.
I do want to take a more specific look at the Startup dialog box. Click
Support professionals often hear people say that their system is complaining
about low system memory errors. And they assure us that they're not running
anything but the most essential programs. Granted, when you start getting
resource errors, one of the first things you should do is make sure your TEMP
folder is empty. But one look in this Startup dialog and you might be amazed
at all the stuff that loads into your memory when your computer starts. True,
much of it you do need and you should not disable anything,
unless you're sure you know what it is and what it does, or you could
cause problems in your system!
Recently, I clicked on a web site to check something out and the Quick Time
video program attempted to install. I did not want it on my system and
clicked to abort the install. However, later I noticed that I now had a Quick
Time icon in my SysTray.<sigh> I don't want it on my system. I
hunted around and couldn't find it, since the install hadn't completed, so I
couldn't uninstall it. But there was part of it staring at me. I could right
click the icon and exit the program. But the next time I started up my laptop,
there it was again, laughing at me!
I checked my Startup folder, but, of course, it wasn't going to be that easy.
All that showed in there was my wireless network card and that's something I
definitely wanted in there.
Then I remembered to jump over to the SCU Startup dialog. HA, and what did
I find in there? Sure enough, there we have the Quick Time program showing it's
set to load each time my system starts up.
After unchecking this item, the next time I started my system, Quick Time was
now gone. Plus I was able to see the path to the item that was trying to start,
so I could delete that needless item from my hard drive.
There are other things in there that I know I personally don't want or need.
For example, although my system came with a docking station, I never use it.
So I knew I could safely stop the docking utilities from loading.
Don't be afraid to nose around in there and see what's up. Just don't remove
anything until you've taken the time to do some research, either in your system
Help files, on the web, or by asking for help in the Microsoft newsgroupsmake
sure you know what you're doing, first.
Special thanks to Beth Melton for important contributions to this article!