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'[EE]: Random Windows Background Tasks [OT]'
2002\10\09@183313 by Matt Heck

(I renamed this thread to what it actually is: people asking about what
all the stuff Windows runs in the background and at startup is.  Before
you go randomly hacking stuff off, have a look...)

First off, before asking me about others, consult this list:
to see if it is needed for your OS.

> Another example is mdm.exe I have yet to identify what it
> is supposed to do, but it gradually slows the computer down further and
> further, till you think you need to upgrade. delete mdm.exe and the
> machine is back to its old self again.

This is actually used for debugging scripts, including JavaScript.  Since
most of the world's JavaScript is just as crappy and broken as most of the
world's HTML, this thing flags problems all the time, which get dumped
into C:\\WINNT (or your local equivilant).  The files are zero-length and
contain the registry key of what they blew up in, if memory serves.  Of
course, you can wind up with a hell of a lot of them, and that can slow
down directory access.

IF YOU ARE A DEVELOPER, if you WRITE JavaScript, or if you actually USE
the Microsoft scripting engine, DO NOT shut this off, just write a batch
file to nuke the temp files on startup.  (Or, write a script so that the
scripting engine can clean up after itself... =])  Otherwise, locate
MDM.EXE and rename it to MDM.OLD.

another one is WINMGMT.EXE, anyone knows
> management can slow productivity ;-)

>I'm using WinME and I have a WINMGMT.EXE on my machine. Can I just delete
>it? What does it do?

This gets used for "WBEM" (Web-Based Enterprise Management) buzzword
support.  If it's on your work machine, consult your IT/MIS department
before removing it.  If it's on your home machine, you're not likely to
need it-- however, have a look at a BIG FAT WARNING if you are running
WinME before doing so, here:

> C:\WINDOWS\System\Restore\StateMgr.exe

This is used to support the "System Restore" feature.  I wouldn't
recommend disabling it, but you CAN do so.  Of course, you CAN cancel
your medical insurance, too.

> Rundll32.exe powrprof.dll,LoadCurrentPwrScheme

First, do NOT disable everything that has "Rundll32" at the beginning
of it.  However, the specific two listed here are support for power
management (APM, ACPI, etc.).  You can suspend this if you don't want
to use any power management functions.  I'm not sure I'd recommend
that, but for a server it might be appropriate.  It might break the
ability to automatically shut off the monitor with the screen saver,
but I'd have to try it.

> mstask.exe

This is the Microsoft Task Scheduler.  It allows you to do things like
automate temp file cleanup, or run a particular program at a given
time, similar to the UNIX "at" command.

However, it ALSO listens to TCP ports 1025-1220.  Now, I've written
any number of programs that expect TCP connections from other TCP
programs on the SAME MACHINE, so maybe that's what they're doing,
but I think I'd like a little more information on why a task
scheduler is waiting for network connections...  Note that for this
reason this process is vulnerable to denial-of-service attacks.
Pounding those ports will peg your CPU pretty well.  According to
the security list I checked, Win2K Pro SP2 and so forth are all
still vulnerable to this.

This program can be disabled, unless you've installed something else
that relies on it-- which you should be able to determine quickly. =]

> C:\WINDOWS\PCHealth\Support\PCHSchd.exe -s

This is the PCHealth Scheduler for WinME only.  Use msconfig to shut
it off, if you don't want to use it.  Read about what it is first.

> C:\WINDOWS\scanregw.exe /autorun

You REALLY don't want to shut this off EVER, with ONE EXCEPTION, and
that is if you are having write errors on your hard drive (and these
days, you're kinda screwed anyway if that's happenning).  This app
scans the registry for corruption, fixes what it can, makes a backup
if everything is fine, and restores from a backup if the file is
trashed beyond repair.  It has no impact after system start, and by
the time you see the interface come up, it's mostly done.

> SysTray.Exe

Oof, don't shut THAT off!  That's the System Tray-- the right corner of the
taskbar that contains the clock and some status icons.  Shutting that off
would be bad.  It's just a placeholder so that it can create a window; it
should place next to no load on the system.  If it appears to be loading
the system down, it's probably actually coming from one of the things IN the
taskbar, generating an excessive number of polls or messages.

> C:\WINDOWS\taskmon.exe

First, this is *NOT* "taskman.exe", the task manager.  This is the Task
MONITOR, and it keeps track of the order applications load modules from disk.
These logs are in \WINDOWS\APPLOG, and before you delete them, you should know
that they are USED IN DEFRAGMENTING YOUR HARD DRIVE, so that things get placed
sequentially on disk in the order they will be requested, which can speed
things up considerably.  The overhead from writing the log to disk is probably
negligable compared to the overhead from the read prompting the write, which is
happenning anyway.  However, shutting it off won't break anything, it'll just
lower the performance boost defragmentation will get you.

>I want to know what those executables do, why they are called at each startup
>and if I can delete it or delete those lines from

Hope this helped!  Also check registry entries RunEx, RunOnce, and RunOnceEx.

  Matt Heck
  Crystal Engineering Corporation

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