From the Kenosha News on 1-14-07

Eliminate error messages and warnings on startup

A reader recently sent me the following message asking about some error messages and warnings that they get when their computer starts up.

“A few things pop up when we start our computer. We have Windows XP:

1. windows xp is no longer up to date with service packs. We’ve tried to install the program many times, it is unable to install, but continually pops up; asking us to install it every time we start our computer.

2. microphone icon pops up each time also when we start computer and states it is on. How can we remove this icon and should we?

3. pstray.pyd also pops up when starting up and asks us to install this program. We would like to remove this from popping up as well.”

While there’s no simple sure-fire solution to ALL warnings, below are some strategies to eliminate or turn off warnings.

Their item #1 has to do with Microsoft updates, which are part of the Security Center in Windows XP if you already have SP2. I think that, prior to SP2, the warnings did not pop up. First, the correct strategy is to let the Windows updates download and install whenever available. However, regardless of what you choose, you can turn off the warnings. Here’s how to do both:

  • Click Start and to go Control Panel
  • Click or Double-click the Security Center
  • To set your computer to download and install updates as available, click the Automatic Updates link toward the bottom of the screen and select the first option, specifying “Every Day” and a time. Click Apply then OK.
  • To disable the warnings, click the link at left for “Change the way Security Center alerts me” Uncheck the appropriate boxes and click OK.

Items 2 and 3 on their list aren’t as straightforward since the pop-ups probably don’t come from Windows itself. First, we need to identify what programs or setting are causing the problem. We have some information on the name of the offending program in #3 – pstray. Doing a Google search, it looks like a free program called PSTray Factory. My suggestion for this is to use MSCONFIG. Click Start, then Run, and type in MSCONFIG and press Enter. Click the Startup tab, which shows all of the programs that run (or try to) when your computer boots up. Look on the list for something like PSTray. While we’re there, let’s look for media programs that might be causing the microphone icon to pop up. There are very few programs that really need to start when your computer boots: your anti-virus and any utilities you may want (Google desktop, WeatherBug, AIM, etc.) Anything other than this can be unchecked and may solve the problem on the next startup. Remember that this does NOT uninstall the program; it just won’t try to launch when your computer starts up.

Another strategy would be to clean through the Add/Remove programs control panel. If you see programs you know you don’t need (e.g. Earthlink setup files) or any that look like they might be causing the problem, you can uninstall them. Again, be careful here not to uninstall tools that your computer needs.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 1-14-07