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Automatic Processes

In Windows XP when I go into Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del) there are a lot of programs running under “Processes” that I have never seen before and don’t know what they are for. How can I find out what these “processes” are for and how to keep them from loading if I don’t really need them?

Think of those processes as the parts under the hood of your car. They help Windows run and you don’t really think about them. Your clock synchronization, audio, imaging, printing, and other essential functions are all separate running processes.

If you really want to monkey around under there, then go to Start/Run and type ” services.msc ” (without the quotes). You’ll find the name of each service, a description, and whether it starts automatically, when needed (manual), or is disabled. Most of the descriptions tell you what will happen if you disable a process.

The only ones that you really need to concern yourself with are the automatic ones since these start at boot up. Click the header for “Startup Type” and all the automatic processes will be grouped together. Now you can go down the list and read what each one does and the consequences of disabling. If you see one you don’t want/need then double click. The resulting window will again give you the name and description of the process. You can also change the startup type here from automatic to manual.


To be honest, I’d recommend just leaving them alone unless we send you a tip about a rogue process (like Messenger Service ). Most processes have a function and if you disable one that you need you can run into problems. If you have anti-virus and spyware scanning software then you shouldn’t get any alien processes lurking about to worry you.

Now, close the hood and get back to driving the information super highway.

~ David