If error messages appear when your PC boots, try this

Every time Muhammad Athar boots his PC, an error message pops up warning him of missing files.

Assuming that nothing else bad happens, this type of error message—coming up every time you boot and only when you boot—probably isn’t dangerous. It’s likely just the remnants of an autoloader that didn’t get removed properly. (An autoloader is a program that loads automatically every time you boot, such as your antivirus program.)

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to [email protected].]

To stop this annoying message, you must tell Windows to stop trying to load this non-existent file. How you do this depends on your version of Windows.

Windows 7

Click Start, type msconfig, and press Enter. This brings up the System Configuration tool. Click the Startup tab.

The trick is finding the right autoloader. Scan the Startup Item and Manufacturer columns for a clue. Obviously, anything that you know you have, such as your antivirus, isn’t it.

The Command column can be helpful, because it has the filename, but you have to widen the column so you can see the filename at the end of the path. You can do this by dragging the little vertical line between the Command and Location column headers.

When you find the culprit, uncheck it. If you’re not sure, experiment with various suspects by unchecking one, rebooting, and seeing what happens.

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