Most of the time, when our computers are running slowly, it’s because of all the things we have running in the background. Computer manufacturers seem to delight in loading up computers with 10 to 12 programs that run automatically and put little icons in the Windows Status Bar.
One would hope that these programs didn’t interfere with our other computer activities. But, all too often, that is not the case.
So, how can you get them under control?
There are a number of tools that will let you control programs that start automatically — if you can figure out which ones you don’t need…
For example, if you use Microsoft XP’s built-in “msconfig.exe,” you can stop many programs from starting automatically. Just uncheck the box beside a program to prevent it from starting automatically. But, you really need some of those — and need some of them for Windows to work (you’d think that MS would keep all of those out of msconfig, wouldn’t you?).
Once you start msconfig, do not touch anything except things in the Startup tab. Click on the Startup tab and you will see the list of items that are starting. This will really be most of the automatically-started third party programs that require user interaction. (Notice the last 3 words!)
Pick one that you don’t recognize. Let’s pick “qttask” which almost everyone will have. The next column "Command" shows:
"C:\Program Files\QuickTime\qttask.exe" -atboottime
This is the QuickTime Task Scheduler, which Apple’s QuickTime sets up automatically on every computer that gets QuickTime.
It’s also totally unnecessary.
There is no reason that we should waste startup time, memory and CPU cycles on the QuickTime Task Scheduler. So, uncheck the box, click Apply and click Close. Note that when you reboot, you’ll get a special boot-up warning that you’re booting into a special diagnostic mode (or something like that) — click “don’t tell me again” and “ok” and be happy.
If you didn’t know what qttask or qttask.exe was, you could search Google for it. With a brief research on Google, you should know enough to decide what to do. If you’re not sure, though, err on the side of letting things run.
A much better, easier way to handle startup programs is with WinPatrol. WinPatrol runs all the time and protects your computer’s startup list. If a program gets added to the Startup Folder or to the Windows Registry so that it automatically starts, WinPatrol will ask if you want to allow that to happen.
WinPatrol also lets you turn on and off startup items, without causing the confusing warning message when you boot. More importantly, WinPatrol has a built-in capability to tell you what a particular program is. WinPatrol itself is free. You get access to the WinPatrol database (online via your web browser by clicking a button in WinPatrol) requires WinPatrol Plus ($29.95). This is a one-time charge and covers all of your home PCs. WinPatrol Plus adds some functions in addition to the database access.
I run WinPatrol continually on my PCs. I bought the WinPatrol Plus access and have found it very helpful and very worthwhile.