||On the previous page, ways to
speed up the boot and startup process were discussed. We continue with
suggestions of how to make the system operate better once it is up
Control What Runs in the Background
- An absolutely essential
prerequisite is the absence of malware and adware.
Unless a machine is free of these pests, there is no point in discussing
other performance topics. Also, make no system changes unless you know how to undo them
- What background processes are
- The computer is always carrying out processes that are not visible as programs
on the Desktop or the Taskbar. They come both from application software
and from Windows. They are not overtly obvious and are said
to run in the background.
Many of them are essential functions but some may be useless (or even harmful
if malware is involved).
- The problem
- The typical home PC today is likely to be stuffed with background
programs and services. Windows XP is quite good at handling a lot of simultaneous
processes but too many can consume enough resources to noticeably affect
system performance. Also, some programs are poorly written or consume so
many resources (Norton SystemWorks comes to mind) that by themselves they
create a problem.
- Where unnecessary background processes come from
- There are several sources.
- It is
all too common for software companies to pile on a lot of unnecessary features
that load into the background at startup.
- Even Windows XP has a default
configuration that loads a lot of services that typical home users do not
need or use.
- In today's climate a substantial
amount of protection against malware and crackers is required. This involves
several programs running in the background. These programs are
often resource-intensive and require careful configuration. They may
conflict with one another if default settings are used. For example,
it is easy to end up with three different programs checking your
email attachments. Personally, I prevent a lot of functions from running
automatically and instead use a regularly scheduled manual routine.
- As mentioned on the previous page,
the measures to take are covered in great detail on pages
elsewhere on this site. How to use the Windows System Configuration
Utility (Msconfig) and the Services
Console to control both programs and services is discussed. There is
also some excellent freeware to help manage what runs in the background
and one program, WinPatrol,
is evaluated here. Below is a table showing
examples of some services that might be unnecessary. Others are given
in the references above.
Some Candidates for Unnecessary Services
||Keeps track of the other computers on your network
|Error Reporting Service
||Reports failures of applications directly to
|Fast User Switching
||To switch to other users on the same system without
||Creates a searchable database of hard drive
||To send text popup messages to computers on the network
||For remote connection to the Registry
||Allows users to connect to the computer with remote
|Wireless Zero Configuration
||Configures wireless 802.11 devices
Configure Windows XP
Some basic tweaks that help performance are discussed on another
page in a previous article. Many tweaks are given in the references
listed there and in the previous page. Some
Use Windows more efficiently
Some basic ways to make using Windows more effective and more suited to
personal needs are discussed in a series of pages on "Windows Your