Last week, I dug deep into Windows Task Manager and explained the most critical Windows processes, such as “lsass.exe” and “Explorer.exe”. In this second installment, I’m going to explain the more common Windows processes, some of which are important and some of which you can even disable to avoid unusual CPU and hard disk activity.
Seven more common Windows processes
In Windows Task Manager or Process Explorer, you’ll find a handful of entries that don’t say if they’re important or not. Here is a rundown of seven more common ones you may come across.
Alg.exe – the online gateway
Alg.exe (Application Layer Gateway) is part of the Windows firewall and Internet connection-sharing feature in Windows XP. It’s also responsible for handling the secure connection of programs, such as instant messenger clients, Bittorrent, and FTP and other programs that rely on the Internet. Killing this service might also kill your connection and many programs which need to access the web.
Audiodg.exe – all about sound
Behind the cryptic “Windows Audio Device Graph Isolation” description lies a process that helps your PC’s audio driver run in an isolated system area to protect it from changes. If you’re experiencing problems with Audiodg, don’t kill it, instead, follow these steps.
Bttray.exe – your Bluetooth connection
Ever connected a device to your PC via Bluetooth? This process is responsible for the little Bluetooth icon in the tray area of your taskbar.
Never connect anything via Bluetooth? Want to get rid of it? Then just disable Bluetooth support and save a bit of memory and CPU time. Go to your Device Manager, expand the “Bluetooth Radios” section, right-click on all of the listed devices, and select “Disable”.
Then, open up your Start menu, type in “services.msc” and hit ENTER. Double-click on the “Bluetooth Support Service” and select “Disabled” from the drop-down list, where it says “Start type”. Done!
Conhost.exe – the command line host
Conhost.exe is an important Windows process that handles the way the user interface connects to the command line (cmd.exe).This changed drastically with Windows Vista. For probably the most detailed information on why conhost.exe needs to be active, check out this HowToGeeks article.
Chkdsk.exe – your hard disk checker
This process is responsible for the checkup of a local disk, external drive, or plugged-in flash media (such as a USB thumb drive). It should only be active during a scan.
DfrgNtfs.exe/dfrgui.exe – your disk defragmenter
This process handles Windows defragmentation and runs automatically on a schedule. This is why you might see it crop up in Windows Task Manager even when you’re not actively running Disk Defragmentation.
Dwm.exe – your “Aero” interface
On Windows Vista and Windows 7, DWM (Desktop Window Manager) handles the 3D effects of your Aero user interface.
Once disabled, you’ll be looking at the basic Windows user interface.
DWM.exe is quite a resource-heavy process compared to others, especially if you’ve got multiple windows and programs open at the same time. If you’re running Windows Vista or Windows 7 on older machines (before 2005–2006) with just 1 or 1.2 GHz and a low-end (integrated) graphics card, I recommend you turn DWM off. Simply head over to the Service Manager (see the bttray.exe entry above), double-click on “Desktop Windows Manager”, and select “Disabled”.
I’ll shine a light on more important Windows processes in part 3. Stay tuned!
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- Shining a Light on the Windows Process Jungle (Part 3) » TuneUp Blog about Windows
- Shining a Light on the Windows Process Jungle (Part 1) » TuneUp Blog about Windows