How do I disable non-essential programs/services/applications on my PC with Windows XP?
By default, Windows pre-loads applications and services from installed programs and deposits icons in the system tray. The goal is to both decrease load times and provide easy access to a variety of programs. While very helpful in theory, these partially launched applications are a CPU drain. Disabling them helps Windows allocate more resources to running applications. Windows will also load faster, since it is not pre-loading every application during startup. To disable these applications from loading on startup, do the following.
CAUTION: Make absolutely sure you follow the directions EXACTLY as printed below. Startup configuration is powerful stuff, and if used carelessly, can cause problems. Follow the directions, DO NOT treat this section lightly, and you will be fine:
Go to Start > Run, type in "msconfig" (without the " " marks)and press OK. When the System Configuration Utility comes up, click on the Startup tab. Press the button to "Disable All." Click on the Services tab. Check the box at the bottom of the window to "Hide All Microsoft Services." Press the "Disable All" button, but only AFTER hiding the microsoft services. Press "OK," then "Restart." When Windows boots back up, check the box next to "Don't show this message..." and then press "OK."
NOTE: After pressing "Disable All," Pro Tools users must re-check "MMERefresh" in the Startup tab and "Digidesign MME Refresh Service" in the Services tab. GigaStudio users must check "msg32" in the Startup tab, even if GigaStudio was installed and then uninstalled later. All users will notice that the system tray is now empty (or very close to being empty). If there are certain applications that you would like pre-loaded on startup (and thus back in your system tray), simply go back to the utility and re-check them. Be advised, though, that each application that is checked (and loaded) will draw CPU resources away from your audio applications.
Also, please remember that this process will cause all non-system programs from booting along with Windows, including anti-virus software and, occasionally, utilities used for your computer's hardware to function properly. General-use computers may need other services and applications in order to function, such as proprietary drivers for mouse touchpads, wireless internet cards, etc. If a particular program that you need stops working after running the msconfig utility, then DO NOT go back and attempt to reinstall the program. Simply choose "Enable All" instead of Disable All" to restore full functionality. Then, you can go through your processes, one by one, to see what needs to remain enabled. You may need to contact your PC manufacturer to be double-check whether or not an application need to be enabled or not.
Make absolutely sure you hide the Microsoft services in the Services tab. This is very critical, and not doing so will cause various Windows features to (temporarily) stop working. Also, be aware that antivirus utilities will also be turned off by using msconfig in this way.
Keep in mind that the msconfig utility is always reversible, but uninstalling and reinstalling software may not be. If your PC malfunctions immediately after using msconfig, then before doing anything else, enable everything to reverse the effects.