Someone asked me recently about the program svchost.exe, which they found on the Processes tab in Windows XP Task Manager (Control-Alt-Delete to open the Task Manager). They had a number of copies of the program running and wanted to understand more about it.
Here’s a look at some of my currently running processes, sorted alphabetically. As you can see, six copies of svchost.exe are running on my system right now.
The file svchost.exe is a Windows XP service that actually acts as a conduit for many other programs to perform their functions. The other programs are collections of code in DLL (dynamic link library) files.
In other words, svchost.exe is a tool that is being used — a conduit — not the actual working program. It’s like the rundll.exe function from Windows 98.
After looking at the illustration above, here’s a view of the running processes using the free program WinPatrol, which I discussed in the Slow Windows XP Boot Times article in my October 31st issue.
WinPatrol’s Services tab shows the many services that are running and is one of the few tools which shows the DLLs that are actually running via svchost.exe, rather than just telling you that you have multiple copies of svchost.exe running (which is what the Windows XP Task Manager does).
Once you know the DLL’s name, you can Google search for what each DLL does, in case you need to take action on it.
Of course, if you purchase WinPatrol Plus, you get access to their online database which you can access from within WinPatrol. I recommend this inexpensive purchase if you are interested at all in optimizing your PC. WinPatrol and WinPatrol Plus (the same program + a license code) are available via www.winpatrol.com.