Friday, January 11, 2008

svchost.exe and Process Explorer

Technically it was yesterday morning since it's 2 in the morning as I write this, but "earlier today" I had some random compulsion to check my Task Manager to see if there'd been any leftover processes running in the background following my sampling of various Windows dock launcher applications such as ObjectDock, RocketDock, and Y'ZDock (long story short, I ended up sticking with my taskbar. I'll try to go over my experience in an upcoming post).

I didn't see any processes that shouldn't've been there, though for some reason looking at all those instances of svchost.exe finally got to me and I decided to investigate where they were coming from once and for all.

As some of you may know, svchost.exe is a program that handles a lot of important Windows services, many involving networking. Unfortunately the Task Manager doesn't tell you which services are using which instance of svchost, and you can have as many as 10 instances of the program running.

Luckily, Microsoft has a free utility called Process Explorer that does exactly what you'd expect it to: explore your running processes in a way that shows you where the processes are coming from. For those of you who haven't already seized total control of your Windows startup, this is another great utility to keep you better informed of what's taking up your valuable RAM.

Hovering over the various svchosts showed which service was invoking them. Unfortunately with the exception of one unnecessary service that I identified (again, by checking the safety of disabling it through various sites online), all of the other instances of svchost were necessary for the proper operation of my operating system.

Oh well, I still got one less process off Windows, which makes more room for crap like, hopefully, a free dock launcher that has taskbar and system tray support built right in. Maybe next time!

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