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[HOW TO] Using MSCONFIG and Hijackthis


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Political User
There have been some posts lately, where I have suggested a user utilizes MSCONFIG or Hijackthis to solve their issue. In order to help those who may not have used either utility very often, or at all, I wanted to take the time to write this guide to help those people out. This is not the "only" way or the "OSNN" way, this is simply how I have done it in the past and have gotten good results from. If you have any questions, please feel free to post in this thread or PM me.

Anyone who posts in this thread making fun of others or off topic comments will be ignored. Don't waste my time, or yours.


MSCONFIG can be launched by clicking your Start Button - going to Run and typing "msconfig" without the quotes. This will only work on Windows 98/XP. If you want to use MSCONFIG for Windows 95/ME/2K/NT, please use the appropriate links at the bottom of this thread.

Once the command has been entered, you will see the main screen for MSCONFIG, shown here:

For the sake of this discussion, I am only going to be concerned with the Services and Startup tab. If time permits, I may come back and cover the remaining tabs.


The main reasons one would want to use MSCONFIG, is to eliminate items from starting up with their computer, which may have installed without their prior knowledge. This can also be done using the Registry, but we will avoid that for now. If you choose to eliminate items from starting up with your computer, you would want to visit the Startup Tab, shown here:

You want to notice the 3 columns here, which are Startup Item (typically the name of the executable file), Command (path within Windows where the file resides) and Location (entry the file has made in the registry).

If you don't recognize an entry, I have found it best to expand the 2nd column (Command), to the further most right border of the screen. This will give you the full path of the file, which may help you identify it, as shown here:

The last item in that list, SHSTAT, might not be familiar off the top of my head. But, if the second column is expanded, it is easy to see that it is related to my Anti-Virus software. That means I want to leave it checked :)

If you want to disable any items, you simply uncheck each box (you can do as many at a time as needed), and then simply click OK. At that time, your computer will ask if you want to reboot now or later, that choice is up to you.


Another place to look for troublesome Windows issues is under the Services tab. If you are trying to troubleshoot services, it is best to check the box that says "Hide All Microsoft Services". This will hide all the services that are related to the Operating System, so your system will still be stable if other services are disabled. The services tab, as well as the box referenced, is shown here:

Again, you may uncheck as many services as you would like, and then click Apply and OK. You can work with either the Startup Tab, and then the Services tab before exiting MSCONFIG, or vice versa. As long as you have checked the box for "Hide All Microsoft Services", your machine should reboot successfully.

Services can also be edited by clicking Start - Run - "services.msc" without the quotes.

F.A.Q. - Questions in Bold, Answers in normal type - Will be revised at any time.
  1. Why would I want to remove items from my startup tab?
    As referenced above, some applications will install and set to automatically start with your system. Common culprites are AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Winamp and Quicktime. While these programs can all be configured within their options not to boot with your system, this path can be taken as well.

    Alternatively, if your system is infected with malware/spyware/virii, if you remove them from starting up with your PC, they may be easier to remove with your Virus/Spyware scanner of choice.
  2. Why would I want to disable services from starting with my computer?
    While not as likely, some malicious software can also set itself to run as a service. The most important thing to remember here is that you should check the "Hide All Microsoft Services" button, to ensure your system will boot correctly.
  3. I disabled a service or startup item, but want to re-enable or start it. How can I do that?
    As you un-checked the box to remove the item or start the service, all you need to do is check the box, reboot, and the item will be running again.

Hijackthis is a great utility that analyzes all current running services, processes, Browser Helper Objects and startup items on your PC. This tool is fairly advanced, and should not be used lightly. For the purpose of this post, I am only going to show you how to upload what is referred to as a "log", which can help other members of the forum assist you.

Start by downloading Hijackthis (current version is 1.99).

Mirror 1
Mirror 2
Mirror 3
Mirror 4

Once the .zip file has been downloaded, use a un-zip utility like Winzip or Winrar. One thing to notice, is that XP has the ability to extract .zip files without a 3rd party application.

When the extraction is complete, run hijackthis.exe The following screen will be displayed:

Again, for this demonstration we want to click on the "Do a system scan and save a log file" option, which is on the very top.

When this is completed, you will have both the results of the scan within Hijackthis, as well as a TXT document containing the results, like this:

For the ease of use regarding member assistance, please copy and paste the contents of the TXT document to a forum post.

Again I must say that Hijackthis is a very powerful tool that can do damage to your system if not used correctly. Use caution when using this utility for anything at all.

Once again I want to stress this is simply for the benefit of those who may not know how to use these utilities. I hope this information is helpful, Thank You.


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Political User
Reserving First Post for Notes

-I will clean this up and work on the Hijackthis section as time permits, hopefully shortly.

EDIT: Meh, hijackthis section started a little bit, will re-visit :)
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