Can AutoHotKey close processes in Task Manager
August 22, 2010 12:20 AM   Subscribe

Multi-part question: Do the various 'services' that run automatically on my computer (such as ipodservice.exe, ituneshelper.exe, adobeupdater.exe) reduce my computer performance significantly enough that it is worth switching them off in Task Manager? How might I automate that process (given that I don't have admin rights -- work laptop)? Could an AutoHotKey script close a batch of these?
posted by man down under to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
What they mostly do is to use up memory, and not necessarily even all that much. A lot of them stay idle and can be swapped out.

How they're mainly obnoxious is in popping up helpful reminders periodically, and getting onto the internet without your permission, at least in some cases. Adobeupdater is particularly bad about that; it phones home regularly to see if there are updates for any of your Adobe stuff, and if there are it spontaneously downloads them and informs you of the updates only after they're downloaded. And it doesn't tell you what updates there are, just that there are some, and then you can decide if you want to install them. (It doesn't even tell you which programs it's going to update.)

Shutting them down from the task manager only gets rid of them until the next time you boot (or in some cases, the next time you log in). Getting rid of the permanently can be a real pain. In some cases they're set up as auto-starts in the registry. In other cases (such as Adobeupdater) they obfuscate the means by which it starts, because they really, really want it to run and don't want pesky people like you and me to prevent it. It's their computer, you know, not ours.

I have also run into cases where terminating such programs from the task manager doesn't really kill them, because they restart, or something else notices that they're gone and restarts them.

Without admin privilege it is essentially impossible to get rid of them permanently.

With admin privilege, the only way I've found to get rid of AdobeUpdater is to delete the damned executable file. And even if you do this, the next time you install any upgrade to any Adobe product, it will helpfully install a new copy of AdobeUpdater for you. (DIE ADOBE!!! DIE DIE DIE!!!)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:44 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just as I was hitting "post" I thought of something else: while they don't really affect normal usage, they do make booting up slower since they all have to run initially.

I think I have heard of purpose-built crapware deleters, this being different than malware. These programs aren't technically "malware" (though some of them approach the line).
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:46 AM on August 22, 2010

I've been playing around with a program called Soluto lately. It suggests which services can be turned off or modified and makes it easy to do so. I don't know if it's worthwhile yet, but it may be worth checking out.
posted by mullacc at 12:53 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I will second mullacc. Soluto is a great little tool and I like it a lot. It basically times how long it takes your computer to boot, then shows you each service that's running in the background and tells you how much of your boot time can be attributed to it.

You then have the option to disable the service, delay the service, or start it normally. If you're not feeling super adventurous, it often gives you advice on what action you should take for most common services.

The best part is after it finishes, you reboot and you see your boot time significantly decreased, and it's a good feeling.

Of course, you can do this manually, but it's a pain in the butt and why bother when there's a cool program that will do it for you?
posted by kbanas at 1:15 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Also, I believe Soluto requires a minimum of 512MB of RAM. Not a lot at all these days, but you never know.
posted by kbanas at 1:16 AM on August 22, 2010

At the same time, these services can perform important functions. adobeupdater.exe may be just as annoying as Chocolate Pickle says, but it also attempts to keep Acrobat and (I think) the Flash plugin up to date. Given Adobe's track record of serious security vulnerabilities in both these products, you really want this stuff patched regularly to prevent a malicious PDF file, for example, from taking over your machine.

If your computer is really running that slowly, working with your IT department to have it replaced, upgraded, or perhaps just reimaged is really going to be a better bet.
posted by zachlipton at 1:29 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

You'll need administrator rights to make any such changes, with any programme/manual method. If you can get them somehow, the quick and easy way is to do it via services.msc. You can completely disable them in there.
posted by Solomon at 1:50 AM on August 22, 2010

Check services.msc and msconfig; prune anything you don't think you need running all the time. If that breaks a program, reenable whatever that program wants running. Don't just go around randomly deleting the executables as suggested above.
posted by sinfony at 2:09 AM on August 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

Black Viper has lots of sound information on background processes that you will see when examine services.msc as sinfony suggests.

HijackThis is primarily aimed at malware but can also give useful information as to what is running at startup. This one should be treated with great care - do not remove anything unless you are very sure indeed.
posted by markx2 at 2:36 AM on August 22, 2010

Assuming that you can get administrator rights, look into calling sc.exe from the command line. It's a command line version of services.msc.
posted by Solomon at 2:38 AM on August 22, 2010

You could dump the local admin password with this

then use msconfig to remove the startup processes!
posted by runit at 2:39 AM on August 22, 2010

I had a wow! experience using Process Lasso - goes beyond task manager and significantly improves performance of resource-heavy applications on my 2 year old laptop. Can't advice about non-admin rights, my guess setting it up as portable might be the way.
posted by Jurate at 4:01 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

You could dump the local admin password with this

A seriously bad idea on a work laptop: If anything, you are giving your IT department a very good excuse to blame you for whatever problem comes down the line.

If you don't have admin rights, it is their job to fix whatever problem you are having. Go to the IT department and ask them to clean up unnecessary services for you - this way you will also avoid shutting down stuff you actually need but don't know about.
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:22 AM on August 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

They do use some memory, but I've never seen them use up all that much. However, I used to still disable them when I was running Windows, because there were many such processes starting up at the beginning, which made the whole startup process slow. Besides, if updating is your concern, for most applications you'll still be reminded when you actually use the applications. So, I don't see a significant drawback to disabling them, but then again, I am not sure exactly what most of them do.

You can disable them from startup by using either msconfig (on Windows XP), or 'System Configuration' (on Vista and 7).
posted by adahn at 6:43 AM on August 22, 2010

You could dump the local admin password with this

In addition to what DrDracator says, modifying your computer might be violating appropriate use policies, which may get you in hot water with HR.
posted by Gorgik at 8:31 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

I really don't think its a good idea for someone with a work laptop to decide to mess with its system processes and files.

and getting onto the internet without your permission

Its your work laptop. If your work admin wants it to check for updates daily then just deal with it. Acrobat is shit software and full of security holes. Your company admin doesnt need someone to shut off the updater because they think it shouldn't be on the internet or somesuch.

If its an issue, talk to your IT department. Messing with this stuff can get you in trouble at work. Its not your laptop, its your employers. Treat it with respect.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:27 PM on August 22, 2010

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