Processes: A Key to PC Speed and Performance

If your computer is slow, one factor could be the processes that are running.
Nov 2010
by Robin Wark

A computer program is essentially a collection of instructions. A process is the actual carrying out of those instructions. A variety of different processes can be associated with one program.

Processes need the resources of your Central Processing Unit to be completed. If there are too many trying to share the CPU and Random Access Memory (RAM) then things are going to get bogged down. This means slower performance and long waits for execution.

Unfortunately, you might not even be aware of how many processes are running. Often you are working with one program, but other software and processes are running without your attention. To regain resources, you can try to close unneeded processes. You can do this by using the Windows Task Manager or some optimization software to see which applications and processes are operating and choose to end them. You can access the Task Manager by right-clicking in the section of the bottom tool tray where there are no icons. You can then select "Start Task Manager."

But which processes should you stop? Some certainly are needed, but likely not all. If it is taking up a lot of resources and you do not need it, then you should considering halting the process. In Task Manager, right click on a process and select "Properties." This will give you some info about the process and let you know the application it is associated with.

Some process that are running on your PC could actually be harmful to you or it. Malware, such as viruses and spyware, could harm your computer and try to swipe confidential information, such as credit card and banking information or social networking credentials. These malicious programs also take up valuable resources. Because they are not designed to work in unison with your other software, they can cause instability. When you are looking at the properties of the processes, you should recognize names like Microsoft, ParetoLogic, HP and Intel. In general, these are safe. If when you try to look at the properties you get a message saying it is not available or nothing comes up at all, it could be a malicious program. You can end it or scan using an anti-virus or anti-spyware program to check. As well, some PC optimization software include scans for active malware.

When you start up your computer, many programs and processes try to launch. Unneeded applications and processes starting can mean long and frustrating startup times. By cutting down on how many programs launch at startup, you can increase the speed. Of course, you will want certain things, such as necessary Windows processes and your anti-virus software, to load right away. You can prune the unneeded ones by using a feature of certain optimization tools or downloading tools such as AutoRuns for Windows.

It can be handy to keep track of how your computer is performing. You can do this by looking at CPU and RAM usage using certain optimization software or viewing the performance tab in the Windows Task Manager. If a lot of these resources are committed, you should consider taking some of the steps discussed above.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.