January 5, 2006
Why Fast Computers Get Slow
After my New Year's install of Windows, I noticed that things were still bogging down a little bit on startup. So I took a look in Task Manager and here's what I found running on my machine. This is more for my information than yours, in case I have to check back later, but some of this might be useful if you're trying to figure out what some of the processes on your machine are.
System Idle Process, 16kB memory
What Windows does when it's not doing anything. It usually takes 99% of the CPU, which means your computer's not really doing anything while you're using it.
System, 212kB memory
The kernel. It has to be there, or nothing else would work.
acrotray.exe, 1696kB memory
Adobe Acrobat uses this to print documents to PDF. Adobe shunts the load time to startup, when you're less likely to notice it. This sits around not doing anything most of the time. If you kill it it'll come back when you print a document to PDF, and the first print will take a while. My hunch is that it's started by the "Adobe Assistant" in the Startup folder of the Programs menu.
ati2evxx.exe, 1456kB memory
Provides extra options for display using ATI video cards. Only delete it if your display adapter doesn't use an ATI chipset.
atiptaxx.exe, 4884kB memory
Easy access to the configuration options for ATI cards. This is also available through Display Properties so if you're hurting for RAM you can kill it. This one appears to be a service.
avgamsvr.exe, 7260kB memory
The in-memory component of the AVG anti-virus program. Don't kill this one.
avgcc.exe, 10836kB memory
AVG control center. Keep this one running.
avgemc.exe, 6340kB memory
AVG's e-mail scanner. This one can be shut off from the AVG control center if you only use webmail. Otherwise keep it.
avgupsvc.exe, 3268kB memory
AVG's update service. Only important if you like having up-to-date virus definitions.
BROADC~1.EXE, 4776kB memory
(Mmm, mm. Love that old-school 8.3 filename.) Nokia software that lets my cellphone talk to the computer via the Bluetooth dongle. (Huh-huh... "dongle"...) This can probably be removed, and the Nokia items removed from the Startup folder, but it may make it a pain to talk to the phone later on. Might as well leave it unless you're pinched for memory.
BTTray.exe, 4396kB memory
The Bluetooth notification area (systray) icon. Provides a My Network Places-like interface for Bluetooth devices.
btwdins.exe, 2724kB memory
Part of Windows that handles Bluetooth. Delete this and your Bluetooth devices (as far as Windows is concerned) go bye-bye.
ConnMngmntBox.exe, 4748kB memory
This one doesn't appear in any of the online process directories, but the (German) page I found that mentioned it also talks about mRouterRuntime.exe, which is part of Nokia's phone interface.
CSRSS.exe, 4464kB memory
Part of the OS, handles graphical commands in Windows. This can also be used by various types of worms; as always don't open e-mail attachments that have .EXE extensions.
CTSVCCDA.EXE, 1316kB memory
Creative CD-ROM services. According to processlibrary.com (where I'm getting most of these entries from) it's only really necessary for Win95/98/ME systems, so I can probably do without it. Not taking any chances though.
DUC20.exe, 4760kB memory
Talks to no-ip.com's servers to help it assign a hostname to my dynamically-assigned IP address. Only needed if I want people to be able to access my home Web site.
ECTaskScheduler, 5924kB memory
Part of the Nokia communication suite. Shutting it off probably kills your ability to talk to your phone.
Elogerr.exe, 4408kB memory
Made by Symbian, lets you connect to a SymbianOS phone (which makes it yet another part of the Nokia suite).
explorer.exe, 5000kB memory
The GUI/shell. It's supposed to restart if you (or something else) kills it, but not always. Don't screw with this one unless you're trying to shut down and your computer hangs.
firefox.exe, 147864kB memory
Yes, that's the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, and yes it takes 140 megs of memory. This tends to change depending on how many tabs you have open, but being over 100 megs is the norm. Every once in a while when you close Firefox it won't completely go away, leaving an undead process. That process has to be killed before Firefox will launch again.
hpcmpmgr.exe, 6020kB memory
HP component manager. Probably necessary to use my printer (an HP PSC 1310).
hpqgalry.exe, 8972kB memory
Part of HP's digital imaging software. This probably runs the scanner/copier part of my printer.
hpqtra08.exe, 8676kB memory
Provides the HP Digital Imaging Monitor (diganostics) in the systray. This can removed by deleting it from the Startup folder.
hpwuSchd2.exe, 1436kB memory
HP's update scheduler. I think this is the program that spawns a minimized window every once in a while, but it comes and goes too fast for me to track it down for sure.
inetinfo.exe, 10212kB memory
Internet Information Services (IIS): the Web, FTP and SMTP servers. This should be uninstalled via Add/Remove Programs > Windows Components if you're not using the services, and the SMTP server should be disabled or locked down if you want/need to keep IIS running. Being an open relay is bad, m'kay?
LSASS.EXE, 1244kB memory
Handles Windows security, so keep it. This is another popular one to plant a virus into. Again, don't download .EXE attachments.
LVComS.exe, 3860kB memory
Logitech Quickcam. If you don't have a Logitech you don't need it. I think this one runs as a service, but I'm not 100% positive.
mdm.exe, 3376kB memory
Lets you debug Internet Explorer. Supposedly this is shut-off-able but I haven't been able to find out how. I also wasn't willing to root through the service list to find it, so it may be there.
mRouterRuntime.exe, 9512kB memory
Belongs to the Intuwave Connection Manager, which makes it part of the Nokia suite.
MsPMSPSv.exe, 1944kB memory
Part of Windowm Media Player (WMP). From the sound of things, it's what WMP uses to download copyright information off the Net when you try to play a new music file. Doesn't seem to be necessary.
mstask.exe, 3992kb memory
Windows Task Scheduler. Kill this and your scheduled tasks won't happen.
point32.exe, 2992kB memory
Microsoft IntelliMouse controller's systray icon. You can disable it if you want. I probably should once I get the two thumb buttons set up the way I like them.
regsvc.exe, 1048kB memory
Allows remote computers (and some local programs) to access the registry. Shutting this off is bad, block access to the necessary port if you want to be safe. (And since you're whitelisting the ports you want to open anyway, it's not a big deal, right?)
SCRFS.exe, 4284kB memory
Part of Symbian's connection system. Talks to SymbianOS devices like my cellphone.
SERVICES.EXE, 7196kB memory
Part of the OS that handles starting and stopping services. Leave this one alone.
SMSS.EXE, 420kB memory
Part of the OS that handles user sessions. It's important.
SOUNDMAN.EXE, 2364kB memory
Controls Realtek (no relation to Real Player) sound boards. Leave it alone unless you want your computer to be a deaf-mute.
spoolsv.exe, 7936kB memory
Windows' print spooler. Only needed if you ever want to print.
stisvc.exe, 2264kB memory
Used by Windows to talk to cameras, scanners and similar devices.
svchost.exe, multiple instances
Part of the OS that handles processes launched by DLLs. They should go away when the process that necessitated them ends; just leave them alone.
TASKMGR.EXE, 4120kB memory
The Task Manager. Goes away when you stop looking at your process list :)
TeaTimer.exe, 5820kB memory
Spybot Search & Destroy's registry protector. Alerts you immediately when a program changes/adds/deletes a registry entry. Worth the 6 megs of memory it takes up.
trillian.exe, 6132kB memory
Trillian instant messaging program. I wouldn't recommend putting it in Startup because it takes so long to load. Launch it manually when you want to IM someone.
upsio.exe, 2176kB memory
Part of the PowerPanelPlus control panel for my CyberPower UPS.
upssrv.exe, 2128kB memory
Another part of PowerPanelPlus.
WINLOGON.EXE, 1108kB memory
Handles logins and logouts. Killing it breaks your computer.
WinMgmt.exe, 652kB memory
Handles Windows Mahagement scripts, like you'd have logging on to a corporate network. Some programs need it, so leave it.
And now the honorable mention:
A piece of software made by BackWeb that Logitech uses to know when to look for updates. According to Logitech it waits until the mouse and keyboard are idle, then dials home to check for updates. They say they don't send information but it could conceivably be used as a keylogger. And just how often do you need to update a camera's drivers anyway?