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08paras January 14th, 2008 08:11 PM

Running processes - calling anyone smarter than me
I set out a few weeks ago to understand the software loaded on my Sony VGN-N130G laptop running XP SP2. I was having various annoying errors and the speed of the processor had declined; a little poking around and I understood that the main problem was the excessive number of processes running all the time. (I did research each one and determined that they are all legitimate.) I ran all of the normally "first step" utilities and except for some spyware things are clean. I looked at a couple of website's forums and learned that I could disable or shut down unnecessary programs or services, disable window components that I don't need, uninstall programs that I don't use, empty temp folders, delete cookies, blah, blah, blah.... I've spent a couple of weeks dicking around with that.
Now everything is so screwed up and I have to admit that I'm just not smart enough to sort through this crap. When I start up the puter I get an error mess that says that I've made changes to the system files and that I need to change it back to the 'normal' boot mode and then it opens up msconfig automatically. So I change it back. Then I go into either Task Manager or WinPatrol and try again to lower the number of running processes --- the cycle repeats itself. I also can't connect to my desktop computer anymore (wireless cable serv). I also have an error mess (wireless switching device) that is new to me just today, that tells me that 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz aren't compatible and that I need to change my systems to the same frequency. ...huh?
I have a gang load of media-esque type programs installed. I don't know which came with the laptop and which came from some other source but they look like overkill to me. I can list them and what I think of each if it's relevent.
One last question: I have Online Armor installed and I think I probably don't need it since I have both Window's firewall and Link Systems router's firewall - (but then I could be mistaken). So acting on the premise that I don't need it, I tried to uninstall it but I get an error mess saying that it can't be done because of some missing file. How do I clear this stuck program?
I can post a HiJack This log when requested.
My humble appreciation,
Sara :embarrass

Miz January 15th, 2008 12:54 AM

For the error message on startup about msconfig...that message is usually just to inform you of something you already know, that you've selected some things not to start up so Windows is using "selective startup." However, since it's also opening msconfig, it's likely you're trying to disable something Windows needs.

I always recommend that you first disable programs from loading on startup from within each program's Options/Settings/Preferences (whatever terminology each uses). Then use msconfig's Startup list only for those things that do not offer that option to disable. I disable anything from loading on startup that I know I don't always use. Those programs can always be opened from the Start Menu when I want it.

Second, don't uncheck anything in msconfig that you are not absolutely, 100% sure isn't needed on startup. When it doubt, leave it checked and do some research online on that specific item.

For a great chart on which Services (Control Panel>Administrative Tools>Services) to disable, which to set to Manual and which to set to Automatic, see Black Viper's site. Scroll down to the chart and use the settings in the "Safe" column.

No, you don't need both Online Armor and Window's firewall. With a router, I think Window's firewall is adequate. The main shortcoming of Window's firewall is that it doesn't monitor outbound traffic. That means if you do get some spyware and it is sending information back to its owners, the Window's firewall won't alert you.

If you want to uninstall Online Armor, whenever a program won't uninstall due to a "missing file," the first thing to try is reinstalling it over top of the current installation in the hopes the missing file will be replaced and then trying the uninstall again.

As far as what other programs to uninstall, if you've got everything you don't use disabled from loading on startup and you're not sure what to uninstall in Control Panel>Add or Remove Programs, just leave them installed. They'll just take up some space but they won't affect system performance just sitting there. As you learn more about what is what in that list, you can uninstall the ones you know you don't need.

08paras January 15th, 2008 03:58 AM

Hi; thanks for throwing me the morsel. :)

I had thought to reinstall the Online Armor as you've suggested, but I figured that it would just install a second full copy of the program on the hard drive like Java does. I'm guessing here - but isn't a software program akin to a kit? (all the pieces parts encased in a pkg) Is there a trick to getting the new install to put itself "over top of the current installation"??

In reference to the msconfig window, should I go back in there and manually put everything back to where it was and then start over again trying to stop and/or disable things from inside each individual program? (which I didn't know you could do)
P.S. Precisely where would I find that option?

New problem: WinPatrol pops up a window every time I open or close a tab in IE informing me that a new program (Google Toolbar Notifier) wants to join the start-up batch and is that okay? I click NO yet the window returns (no less than 25 times this evening) the next time I open or close a tab. Although I use the Google Toolbar, I set it long ago to not send usage statistics back to Google and haven't had it challenged before tonight. How shall I kill this guy off for good?

My hesitation about snuffing the life out of any of my media-esque type programs is that I've been warned before that sometimes a disabled or removed program will take with itself, on exit, a file that was shared with some other part of the whole, thus causing all kinds of mayhem. That is a scenario I should avoid - cause I'd cry:) Is that valid information?

Also, would you mind helping me understand the difference between a program that is dormant (easily started from the programs menu when needed) and one that is crippled? I've found that some processes or services that I switched to manual end up running anyway and programs that I thought I was setting to standby cannot function properly when I do try to start them from the menu - I get error messages that some thing critical to the performance of the software is "unavailable". e.g. I put a Chris Rock CD in my F drive with the intent of ripping it to my hard drive believing that it was audio tracks. It triggered Windows Media Center to open its program (it was a DVD) - it froze on the blue screen. The only way out was through Task Mgr. It showed Media Ctr as non-responsive, 59 processes running and ehshell.exe as using 178,680KB of whatever the Processes tabbed page reports on, (RAM, memory??). It took three tries to get Media Ctr to end task and when it did I got a couple of follow up error windows - one was logging a "Media Center Crash Report". I tried to screen capture the other ones but it didn't work.

Your help is a kindness you are bestowing on me and I want to respect forum protocol - only I have no idea what it is. So please don't hesitate to be direct with me if I'm over-stepping any boundaries. I'm really and frustrated and confused by this stuff.


08paras January 15th, 2008 05:08 PM

Additional info - the pc this morning
Last night I went into WinPatrol and reset almost everything back to automatic start up. I left a couple of things in manual mode mostly VAIO Media related files and I left Norton's files as disabled. I currently have 62 processes running.

Miz January 15th, 2008 06:30 PM

When you install a program and just click the OK button if it asks where you want it to install, letting it itself however it wants to, it puts its files on the hard drive however it needs them. When you reinstall, it just does exactly the same thing again, putting exactly the same files in exactly the same places, replacing the ones already there with ones exactly like it. That's why reinstalling a program should put a file in that has gone missing. Why files go missing is another book entirely. ;)

Since you're having problems on startup, yes, go back into msconfig and put things back the way they were. Legit programs will pop up a message box during uninstall warning about "shared files," should it encounter any, asking if you want to keep the file. When in doubt, click the button to keep the file.

I can't tell you exactly where every startup program you have keeps its "load on startup" option. Open one of those programs, click on File on the Menu Bar (up at the top) and look for the word Preference or Options or Settings. If it's not there, look under View. If it's not there, look under every other heading on the Menu Bar. Once you find something that looks like Preferences, Settings, Options (or something similar), click it and start poking around to see if you can find a way to disable it from loading on startup.

It rare for a legitimate program to take a needed file with it when it's uninstalled. Software that is not legitmate (spyware, virus, worm, trojan, etc.) will do that.

I'm not sure what a "crippled" program is other than a trial version that doesn't have all its features available until you pay for the full version.

Software developers seem to have decided that their stuff has to load on startup. I don't know why they thing their stuff is so important. Maybe it's ego. The end result is people can get so many different things set to load on startup that their computers struggle to get it all loaded and running. Stopping a program from loading on startup doesn't adversely affect the program in any way. The only effect on the user is those extra two seconds it takes to find it on the Start Menu and click on it. The effect on the computer is relief from having to run unneeded stuff.

Processes and Services and Programs are interrelated but not synonymous. As far as Processes in Task Manager and Services in Adminstrative Tools, disable only those you are absolutely, 100% sure your system doesn't need to do things you want it to do. Programs often start a process that will appear in Task Manager's Processes list and when the program is closed, its Process is also terminated....until next time the program is run.

As far as the Media Center crash, that could have had something to do with the things you've disabled. Something Media Center needed was disabled so it choked...or it could have been due to something else entirely.

Go to the Black Viper site I linked to in my other post in this thread and check your computer's Services settings agains his charge, changing any that need changing to be set the same as what's in the Safe column.

08paras January 15th, 2008 08:55 PM

Perfect timing! Thank you for your help.

I will go to the Black Viper site now before I attempt anything else.
Since re-enabling everything, I'm contending with persistent lock-ups, even Task Manager doesn't want to wake up and do its job.

The following may not make sense; I'm attempting to discuss technical issues without knowledge of the lingo... bear with me.
What I meant by a program being "crippled" is that: although set as manual in the start up classification within msconfig's "Info" layer, (that's accessible by right-clicking any of the files listed in either the Services or Start Up tabs) - once started via the Start Menu, it tends to kick out errors or it simply won't run properly. That the only way that some programs seems to run cleanly is if allowed to be an integral part of the systems basic operation; i.e.: having automatic start up status. Windows Media Center has behaved this way for me in the past, as has iTunes. So, my question was, is there a known glitch or quirk within some programs that makes them unstable if the User modifies any aspect of their command within the systems software environment? If so, is there a way around that or is a person best off just leaving them alone if they bawk at setting changes?

After I spend countless hours examining Black Viper's rankings vs my unruly configuration I, no doubt, will ask to pick your brain some more:)

Miz January 15th, 2008 09:14 PM

With a few some antivirus programs and probably others I can't think of at the, disabling them from loading on startup doesn't affect their functionality when run.

I have a couple of programs that wanted to load on startup when I installed them, I disabled that and when I open them, they work without any problems. However, I've never used Media Center or iTunes so I can't adivse you on thier specific problems.

You may find that getting the Services sorted out properly with the help of Black Viper's site fixes some, maybe even all, of the locking-up problems you're having.

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