From the Kenosha News on 2-5-06

Use MSCONFIG to choose what processes start up when you boot

A week or so ago, a reader wrote and reported, "I am getting a message on my computer at start up that states: ‘Error loading c:/program files/wildtangent/Apps/cda/cdaengines0400.dll. The specified module could not be found.'… What would this be and how do I fix it?"

In WinXP, MSCONFIG can fix this problem, help disable spyware, and more. To access it, click Start and go to Run. Type MSCONFIG and press Enter. Click the Startup tab. In a case like our reader's, look for something like the name of the mystery program and uncheck that box. Click OK and restart. You'll get a warning message on the first restart; check the "don't show me this again" box.   

You might be surprised to find out how many programs are starting up when you boot your computer – anything checked on the Startup list. Some may be system processes, applications you want, or spyware. The trick is to figure out which of the processes listed under the Startup tab are important and which are not. The more unnecessary programs you turn off, the faster your computer will start up. Don't turn off anything related to your anti-virus or any firewall you have installed. Turning off "optional" programs like QuickTime will not uninstall or disable the program, but rather than launching at startup, it will launch when it's needed.   

So, how do you tell what should be checked on the Startup list? Use the web site www.processlibrary.com to look up your processes. Type the process name into the Search box and click the Search button.   

For example, on my list, I see a program called "ccapp.exe." What is it? Processlibrary.com says: "ccapp.exe is a process belonging to Norton AntiVirus. It is responsible for the auto-protect and email checking facilities, both of which will not function correctly if this service is stopped. This program is important for the stable and secure running of your computer and should not be terminated." But it also says: "Note: ccapp.exe is also a process belonging to the media.fastclick adware which creates advertising popups on your computer and sends Internet usage information back to its company's servers. This is a registered security risk and should be terminated immediately. Determining whether this process is a virus or a Windows process depends on the directory location it executes or runs from in WinTasks." In my case, ccapp.exe is running from a Symantec directory, and I use Symantec anti-virus, so I leave it checked.

Another task listed is "dumprep", which processlibrary.com indicates is that annoying little Windows thing that offers to report my errors to Microsoft. While I'm tempted to un-check it, processlibrary recommends that I don't. I opt to uncheck both iTunes Helper (a program related to iTunes) and qttask (related to Quicktime.) While I might use either program occasionally, there's no reason they need to start up every time I boot my computer. I decide to leave aim (Instant messenger), weather (WeatherBug), and GoogleDesktop on the list since I use those frequently.   

When in MSCONFIG, you should ONLY change the items on the Startup tab. Do not attempt to modify the items on the other tabs since they are system settings.

By Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 2-5-06