One of the best ways to tweak your Windows 7 system is by stopping unnecessary processes in Task Manager. However, if you stop the wrong process, you system will suddenly stop working, forcing a restart. So how do you know which ones to stop? Even though Windows 7 now features as description of individual processes, sometimes it’s still difficult to tell Windows essential processes from non-essential or plain system hogs.
Processes to Never Stop
The following processes are essential to the Windows 7 operating system and should never be stopped. Stopping any of these processes may result in Windows Explorer no longer working, your desktop disappearing or the inability to log in to your system, if your system requires a user name and password.
Explorer.exe – This is the Windows Explorer process. Every window you open in Windows, such as My Documents, depends on Windows Explorer. Closing this process will reduce functionality and prevent your ability to open files and folders on your computer.
Services.exe – This process is vital to Windows 7. It controls how Windows 7 boots, stops and interacts with other processes and services. Stopping this process will shut down Windows 7.
Spoolsv.exe – Though not necessarily required, most users have some type of printer installed. Even if you print to PDF or Microsoft XPS, Windows 7 sees this as a printer. In order to print, you must have spoolsv.exe running.
Svchost.exe – This is the Windows Service Host application process. In order for Windows files to run correctly, this process must be running. Whenever an application requires a system file, you will see the svchost.exe process. The more files you run at once, the more likely you are to see multiple svchost.exe processes. Some other applications result in this process, but it’s difficult to tell which belong to Windows and which belong to other applications.
System – This process is also called the System Idle Process. This process totals the time the processor is not in use, which is necessary to determine if there is enough processor and memory for other processes and applications. You cannot run programs or processes once this process is stopped.
Taskmgr.exe – This is another non-essential process, but it is required in order to view running processes. If you close this process, you will not be able to view or manage running processes until you open it again.
Winlogon.exe – If your Windows 7 system requires a logon, you must have winlogon.exe running. This controls the log in process. Without it, you will be locked out of your system until perform a restart.
Determining Which Processes to Stop
Most other processes are not essential to Windows 7. However, they may be essential to other applications on your system, such as anti-virus or Internet browsing. When you start Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del), select the Processes tab and view the description column in order to determine which program is using the process. Stopping application processes will not cripple your system, but will reduce functionality of any application that uses the process. When in doubt, see the AnswersThatWork list of Task Manager programs, sorted alphabetically.