How to Deactivate
Annoying Microsoft
Windows XP Popups

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This page is a guide to stop annoying popups like the following.

  1. "You have unused icons on your desktop."

  2. "Your computer might be at risk.
    Automatic updates is turned off."

  3. "Your computer might be at risk.
    Antivirus software might not be installed."

  4. A "Fail." popup.
    [An 'End Task' dialog window, when you logoff, sometimes reveals that the problem is related to a 'card reader monitor for 9360'.]

These popup messages occur at startup, or shutdown, of the Microsoft XP operating system.

I found the way to get rid of these annoying popups by doing a WEB SEARCH for the messages in quotes, above.

Typical reasons for why these popups appear :

  • The 'unused icons' prompt is just plain stupid, as others on Internet forums have pointed out. Sometimes you want icons on your desktop, even if you do not use them for many months.

  • It turns out that there are quite a few people who do not like Microsoft Automatic Updates turned on. (Some have been burned by those updates, as their system becomes nearly unusable due to some poorly implemented updates.)

  • Some of us find a firewall (say, from Zone Alarm or Sunbelt Software) is better protection than anti-virus software.

    Anti-virus software cannot possibly keep up with the many varieties and off-shoots of viruses being devised virtually daily.

    A 'personal firewall' is capable of letting you know when programs are trying to run on your system --- and when they are trying to send information out onto the internet.

    As of 2009, the Microsoft firewall does not warn of the latter. So most people who are 'in the know', disable the Microsoft firewall and install a better one.

    And many do not use anti-virus software. For one thing, anti-virus software bogs down your machine all-too-frequently.

  • The 'Fail' popup may happen to those who try to protect their computers by establishing a userid to use --- other than the default 'Administrator-User' id that comes with the Microsoft XP Home operating system.

    By doing most work under a non-Administrator id, most viruses fail to insert themselves in Microsoft system folders on your computer, because an Administrator id is required in order to allow placing a program in a system folder.

    [The 'Fail' popup may occur when using the non-Administrator id, and the 'Fail' popup may NOT occur when using the Administrator id.]

Below, I outline the steps of the cures. For each popup-and cure, I include the name of the website where I found a good description of how to get rid of the annoying popup.

Popup :
"You have unused icons on your desktop.
Click here to ..."

Solution :

Right-click on the desktop. Go to 'Display' > 'Properties' > 'Desktop' > 'Customize Desktop...' and uncheck 'Run Desktop Cleanup Wizard every 60 days'.

[Since you get the 'unused icons' message every time you login, it seems the Wizard is trying to run much more frequently than every 60 days. That '60 days' is misleading.]

I found this help at (ttid=255) --- complete with screen images.

Popup :
"Your computer might be at risk.
Automatic updates is turned off."

Solution :

Go to 'Control Panel' > 'Administrative Tools' > 'Services' >
'Automatic Updates' (right-click, set Stop). While there, also right-click 'Properties' and set 'Startup Type' to 'disable'.

    [You can get to 'Control Panel' on the left of the initial 'My Computer' window, if 'Control Panel' is not available on via your 'Start' menu.]

ALSO, turn off 'Automatic Updates' in 'Security Center' --- at 'Change the way Security Center alerts me'.

    [You can start up the Security Center window by clicking on the Shield in the tray, at the bottom right of your desktop.]

I found this help at

Popup :
"Your computer might be at risk.
Antivirus software might not be installed."

Solution :

Go to 'Security Center' > 'Recommendations'.
Check the 'I'll monitor myself' button.

I found this help at (thread-2706166).

Popup :
"Fail". That's all there is in the popup.

    An 'End Task' dialog, when you logoff, sometimes reveals that the problem is related to a 'card reader monitor for 9360'.

Solution :

Use 'Run ...' in the 'Start' menu --- to run the 'msconfig' program. Go to the 'Startup' panel of 'msconfig' and uncheck the 'readericon45G.exe' --- so that it is not scheduled to startup each time you login.

    [It is unlikely that you will ever need the 'card reader' that that program deals with.]

I found this help at (TOPIC_ID=4762).

That's all for now, folks.

On the horribleness of

By the way, in doing a WEB SEARCH to find these answers, I found that the worst place for answers is ''.

The typical answer that people provided there for these popups is that a virus on their computer was causing these Microsoft popups.

The people who provide answers at '' generally are just making wild guesses without having actually dealt with the question themselves.

Also ... in doing a WEB SEARCH for answers to OTHER questions (other than how to get rid of annoying Microsoft popups), I have occasionally gotten 'hits' at ''.

In those cases, too, it seems that the people giving the answers are pre-teenagers. The answers were way off the mark and just a waste of my time.

So don't expect much help from ''.

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Page was created 2009 Oct 19.

Page was changed 2019 Jan 08.
(Added css and javascript to try to handle text-size for smartphones, esp. in portrait orientation.)