I’m looking for a place that has a list of system processes
which are needed and which aren’t.
It seems I give this answer all too often.
The answer I keep giving?
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The processes that are needed to run windows depend entirely on the
specifics of your machine, and what you do with it. What’s a minimum set for me
will probably not work for you, and vice versa.
The software that’s running on your machine comes from several different
- The Windows operating system itself.
- System “services”, some of which are optional, some of which are not, all
depending on your machine and needs.
- Programs that start automatically at start up. Again, some of which are
optional, some of which are not, all depending on your machine and needs.
An additional confusion is that what kind of software goes in which of those
places isn’t clear. Hardware drivers and support software can be either
embedded in Windows, a service, or a separate start-up application.
Applications and utilities can be implemented as Windows Services, or as
programs that run at startup, or as programs you run manually.
It all depends, and it’s all very confusing.
So my approach to winnowing down what runs on my machine is this:
- Right-click My Computer, click Manage,
expand Services and Applications, click on
Services, and then click on the Status column
header to sort all the “Started” services together. Now for each, I either turn
off those I know I can, or I visit this XP Service List to try and learn whether or not I really need the
service and act accordingly.
- Run a startup monitoring utility like autoruns from sysinternals and examine each of the items listed as
being started automatically when the machine boots or when I log in. There are
several that I know I can turn off, but for others I don’t recognized, Startup Applications List is a handy
reference with close to 7500 definitions.
Finally, another good resource is our old friend Google. Quite frequently,
for any process that you find running on your machine, a quick Google search on
the name of the process or filename will give you information about what the
process is, and whether or not it’s required.