Troubleshooting Windows

This section outlines several trusted and tried methods to deal with a problematic Windows Computer. If you have trouble booting, updating or accessing your computer, then read on.

Stopping programs that are causing crashes and boot failure:

If you've used a Windows-based PC for any length of time, it's likely this scenario has happened to you. Windows will load to a certain point, then crash, or will load completely then either freeze or slow down so much that it is effectively unusable. The problem in either circumstance is likely to be with a program that has been set to run automatically upon Windows startup.

Booting your Windows XP or Vista system into safe mode will not load add-on programs automatically, so if you can successfully load safe mode, you know that a program or a software device driver is causing your problem. If the freezing or crashing occurs after the Windows GUI (Desktop Menu) has loaded, it is reasonable to assume that a program that has been set to run automatically is causing the problem.

Booting into safe mode will allow you to selectively disable autorun programs, allowing you to troubleshoot the cause of your computer issues.

Use this free tool 'AutoRuns' for Windows to see behind the scene (Safe Mode):

Download the free 'autoruns' program and copy the executable file onto your system. It will easily fit onto a floppy disk, so you can download it on another system and use it on other computer systems. The autoruns program is an excellent little utility that will show you the location of all software and services that are starting each time you boot windows and allow you to disable them as you see fit.

Start XP or Vista in safe mode.

Start autoruns by double clicking the saved executable file.

Sysinternals Autorun program

If you think you know the program that is causing your problem, locate and disable it by unchecking the box beside it. Reboot Windows XP in normal mode and see if your problems are resolved. If you are not sure, experiment by selectively disabling items from the list and rebooting in normal mode.

Stopping Autorun Programs:

Once you have found the culprit and prevented it from running at startup, you should be able to boot into normal mode and uninstall the offending software properly.

If for some reason you can't get a copy of autoruns, you can use the MSCONFIG utility included with Windows XP. This doesn't find auto-running programs as thoroughly as autoruns does, but it should still do the trick.

If you are using MSCONFIG, go to 'start\run' and type 'msconfig' to open the program. Select the 'startup' tab.

Windows MSCONFIG

Any of the checked items are software that will run on startup. To start troubleshooting, uncheck most or all of the items, exit MSCONFIG and reboot your system in normal mode. If the problem disappears, run MSCONFIG and re-enable the previously checked items, starting with necessary software like firewall and anti-virus programs and rebooting periodically to test the settings. When the problem manifests itself again, you've found the culprit.

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