– Alex –
Programs running in the Background
Sometimes you will run into the problem where two programs that are installed on your PC conflict with each other and refuse to run at the same time. Or you have a memory leak (a program that uses memory when in use but does not return it after it is done) but are not sure which program is causing it. It can be tricky to find the culprit, because you think that no other programs were running, so what could possibly be the problem? You’d be surprised at how many programs are running on your PC right now. Take a look right now and be amazed. Push Ctrl-Alt-Del on your keyboard right now. You should now see a dialog box labeled Close Programs. In there is a list of some pretty funny looking names. Each one of those is a program running right now in the background. Didn’t expect to see that many, did you? Two of the items listed here are always there, that is Explorer and Systray. Those are Windows components and they are supposed to be there. But everything else is a program running right now that could be a possible culprit for your problem. They get loaded automatically every time you start Windows.
How do they get loaded?
There are several places where you can find out. Let’s first look at your startup files. Go to Start/Run, and type Sysedit. In the resulting window you’ll see many cascading Windows. In the Autoexec.bat window you might find a few lines to start a program. Or in the Win.ini file, look at the load= and run= lines. Anything in those lines after the = sign is a program to be loaded.
Windows also has a startup folder where it checks every time Windows starts. If there are any programs listed, it will start them automatically. You can find the contents of the startup folder by going to Start/Programs/Startup. Didn’t realize you had those items in there, did you?
Then there is another not so obvious place: the Windows Registry. The registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Run holds a list of programs to be loaded on Windows startup as well.
You probably think how did they get in there since you didn’t put them there. Some of them need to be running in the background to function properly, such as a virus scanner. They put themselves into a startup menu automatically when you install them. Others might not need to be there, but they load anyway to be available when you need them.
Now that you know how to find out what programs you have running in the background and how they got there, let’s talk about how to do some troubleshooting to find the culprit.