I’m sure you’ve heard about the new graphics in Windows Vista and expecially about how they will require powerful graphics cards with 256MB memory on the video card for Vista’s Aero graphical interface.
Getting cute with graphics puts a huge load on your computer. You have to dedicate a lot of computer, or at least video card, power (capability as well as battery-draining power!) to get fancy graphics.
Whether you’re using Vista or Windows XP, you need to take control and keep control of all the programs that run automatically on your computer. It seems like every time I install a new piece of hardware, like a graphics card, sound card or even a mouse, it wants to install its own software that runs all the time. Sometimes it even wants to install two, three or more programs that automatically run.
When you add those things to all the Windows XP Services that run automatically, to your security programs (antivirus, antispyware, antispam and firewall programs) that are running, you can slow your computer noticeably.
So, what can you do?
Windows XP includes a program called msconfig.exe that you can run to show and control many of the programs that are starting automatically on your computer. WinPatrol (a free program) gives you a much better display and much better control over those programs — and shows more of them, too.
One of the features that I really like about WinPatrol is that I can disable a program from starting automatically, without unintalling the program.
WinPatrol also has a function that can automatically run every few minutes and make sure that nothing has changed. If something has changed, WinPatrol will warn you or sometimes will change it back to the way you set it.
For example, if you run Microsoft Office, you probably realize that it starts a program called CTFMON.EXE automatically. It also sets CTFMON.EXE to run automatically. That doesn’t bother me — WinPatrol resets it to disabled a couple minutes later. Cool.
By keeping control over the programs that start automatically, you can save your limited memory and CPU capacity for the programs that you want to run.
Read more in my article Controlling the Programs that Start Automatically.