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How Do I Change the Start Sequence?

How do I change the sequence of loading items shown in MSConfig in Windows XP or Windows 7? And how do I do that in Windows 8? I couldn’t’ even find MSConfig. Perhaps many people would prefer to have their anti-malware software loaded first?

You don’t want to play around with changing the start sequence. It’s more complex than most people realize. Sometimes, it’s even error prone.

Let’s talk about why.

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Why is the start-up sequence so complex?

In a recent article, I talked about how incredibly complex startup is.

If you want to try to make changes to the startup order you have to make all sorts of assumptions about how things work and how they may change over time.

Do it wrong, and you can actually actually make your machine unbootable.

Autoruns To see this on your own machine, grab a copy of the utility called Autoruns. It’s a free download from the Microsoft website. It gives you the most complete listing of everything that runs or tries to run when you start your machine.

Run that, look at what it shows you, and you’ll have an appreciation of just how complicated startup really is.

As you can see, fiddling with some of those things can really cause some problems.

Finding MSConfig in Windows 8

MSConfig is still around.

From the tiled Start screen, just start typing “mscon”. When you start typing “mscon”, the search will kick in. Most people don’t realize it, but if you start typing on the tiled Start screen, Windows will search installed programs and shortcuts and list the things that match.

As you type “mscon” eventually, you will see an icon called “System Configuration.”

Click that, it’s MSConfig.

The other approach is to use the Windows key plus R. That brings up the Run box. In the Run box, you can type “msconfig.” Click OK or press Enter on your keyboard and it will also bring up the program.

Anti-malware tools first?

I understand why you want to make the anti-malware tools run as soon as possible. I actually don’t know how large a window of vulnerability there is or even if there is one at all.

I have to believe that the people who designed this understand that you do want your anti-malware software running as soon as possible. There may be technical limitations why they can’t – for example the anti-malware tool itself my depend on other things having been started before it can run. If there are these types of limitations or assumptions those are the things that no one should be changing.

Ultimately, changing the start-up order isn’t worth the time or the risk.

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6 comments on “How Do I Change the Start Sequence?”

  1. I can see one reason why the antimalware program might cause a problem if it runs too soon. Some of the Windows startup programs which load drivers and perform other low level operations might set off false alarms in the malware program, as they might fit the pattern of some malware behavior.

  2. When I typed “mscon” on Win 8’s Start Page, I got the old MSConfig box (System Configuration), but the “Startup” tab said to use Task Manager and provided a link to it. There are two quicker ways to get to Task Manger. One is the old standby, Ctl+Alt+Delete and select Task Manager. The other way is to right-click the lower left corner (Desktop or Start Page) and select Task Manager from the list.

  3. Leo,
    Thanks for this article – while looking at MSCONFIG, I discovered netsession from Akamai which “helps with peer-to-peer file sharing”!!!! had gotten installed without permission on my computer.
    It has been removed.
    Might be worth doing an article on netsession to warn people.
    Keep up the brilliant work.

    • Akamai Netsession isn’t a virus and won’t cause any harm. I don’t want it on my machine as it serves no purpose in which I’m interested, but it can be installed legitimately by certain apps. Note that there are viruses named netsession, but the one you mention is legit.

  4. Great article and very helpful and informative as usual. But I must add you excel in the quality of your responses making them so clear to read all screen shots and the text! You may think this is standard procedure but I’m hear to tell you most others who provide info, do so very confusing and their screen shots are unreadable and their text is very small forcing you to zoom your window.


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