In my article Speeding Up the Slow Computer, I wrote about several ways that a slow computer could be speeded up. Only one of those options involved changing any hardware, and that was adding more memory.
I mentioned the problem of all the helper programs that get installed by the computer manufacturers and by other programs that you install — all the programs that are running all the time, taking all the memory and making the CPU run harder?
There are a couple of great, free programs that can help you do that.
One is a program called Process Explorer. The company that wrote this utility and a number of other free utilities for digging into Windows activities actually ended up getting purchased by Microsoft. Process Explorer is now available from Microsoft.com on the Downloads page.
What does it do? It shows you many more details about the programs (processes) that are running on your computer than the Windows Task Manager will show. You can read more about Process Explorer in several articles TerrysComputerTips.com.
But, Process Explorer will only allow you to see what’s happening. To control what’s happening, you need another program.
I’ve written a number of times about a free utility program that I use called WinPatrol. The free program is quite powerful, and will let you control the auto-starting of programs. Not only will it let you disable particular programs from starting automatically, it will even let you take programs that you may want to let run automatically, and allow you to set them to start sometime after Windows has started.
Do you really need that scanner driver program to start up while Windows is booting, or is it more reasonable for it to start, say, 5 minutes later? You can already be reading emails and web surfing when the program starts, so you aren’t delayed.
Now, multiply that effect by 4 or 5 programs that you delay, in addition to the ones that you don’t allow to start automatically.
The big question is "which programs can I disable or remove?"
With the free WinPatrol, you can search Google to find answers and decide.
With the paid version, called WinPatrol Plus, you get access to the WinPatrol Plus online database of programs. From within WinPatrol Plus, you can select a program from the displayed list and click the info button.
At that point, WinPatrol Plus will open your default web browser, search the WinPatrol site for information on the program, and tell you about it and whether it’s safe to delete or disable, so you can make an intelligent decision from a known reference site (you may find something via Google, but can you trust what the site says?).
WinPatrol is also a system protection program. It runs all the time and monitors some programs and data files from changes. For example, if you HOSTS file is changed, WinPatrol will flag that the file changed and asks if you want to allow the change. If you tell it no, it will change the file back to its previous setting.
I use WinPatrol Plus on all my computers and have, ever since I found out about the program. I highly recommend it. If you don’t want to buy the “Plus” license, you don’t have to. You can use the free version and get almost all the same functions.
You can find WinPatrol at http://www.winpatrol.com.