What is stealing Windows System Resources away from your session of SOLIDWORKS?

Article by Chris Briand, CSWE created/updated August 9, 2011

Ever wonder what other stuff is running on your PC while you struggle for Windows System Resources to finish the SOLIDWORKS task at hand?

The ‘stuff’ I refer to is all of the little extra icons that appear in the Windows Taskbar (under the arrow by the clock).  Each one of those icons symbolize a process or program that is running on your system, using up little snippets of resources (or big snippets in some cases) as you attempt to get your work done.

Windows System Resources

Windows Processes

Windows does a great job of hiding these, so that you don’t even know that they are there most of the time. You can also configure the system icons on or off, such as the clock, volume control, power icon, and action center.

Windows dedicates an entire dialog to turning off all of those pesky, real-estate hogging icons. This is fine if your intention is to claim back some desktop space, however in this two part post, I would like to take a crack at the root problem — all of those services and processes running in the background in the first place.

Activate the Task Manager

There are many processes that are related to “update utilities”, programs that search online and wait to receive product updates, Adobe, Java, even SOLIDWORKS has the “SOLIDWORKS Background Downloader” running in the background. I would bet that 50% of the folks reading this have between 5 to 10 icons in the notification area, and are uncertain as to what half of them actually do.

One method to snapshot the number of processes running is to perform a CTRL+ALT+DELETE and select Task Manager. Then take a look at the number of processes running in the Processes tab of the Task Manager. You can expect 70 to 80 processes as a normal count.

Windows Task Manager

Windows Task Manager

Reduce the Processes at Startup

Let’s take a look at a few techniques to knock down the number of processes running on startup.

A quick disclaimerShutting down processes can result in some programs or services on your machine not functioning as you expect.

If you have an IT group that is looking after your computing interests you may want to consult with them and have them grant you the required rights to make changes to your system. Another great idea is to have them assist so that you are not disabling processes that are important to their IT infrastructure and management systems (virus scanners for example).

If you do not know what a process is, Google it! – chances are that someone, somewhere has had the same query before.  All said it will likely be a bit of trial and error as everyone invariably shuts off a process that they eventually need (The SOLIDWORKS Licensing Service, for instance) and discover this at some point later on.

The other note to make here is that if you are shutting down processes that are responsible for updating your applications, you may have to do this manually.  Most of these applications have a “Check for Updates” option, usually located in the help menu.

Note in the Task Manager there is a Startup Tab. This provides an easy way to specify which programs start up automatically.

 

Startup Tasks

Startup Programs

Now that we have a true view on the number of programs at startup we can start interrogating them. Note the column for ‘Startup Impact’ will give you an indication of how important it is, and if you right-click on an item and select Search Online from the shortcut menu you can get more information about it.

For non-essential programs you can right-click on the item and select disable from the shortcut menu, and the program will not be activated on Windows startup in the future.

See which Senders are running

Select Start > Settings (cog) > Notifications and Actions (or enter ‘Notifications and Actions’ in the search box in the Taskbar) . Down at the bottom of the dialog you will find all the programs/senders that are active and providing notifications:

Windows Notifications & Actions

Windows Notifications & Actions

Slide the On to Off and these processes will be disabled for your current session and future Windows sessions.

In part two of my post, I will introduce you to the best medicine to reduce the number of processes running on your Windows system using Microsoft’s System Configuration Utility – MSCONFIG.

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Chris Briand, CSWE

Chris has been educating and supporting Engineers, Designers and IT Personnel within the 3D CAD industry since 2002, and was adopted into the fantastic team of applications experts here at Javelin Technologies in early 2006.  Chris enjoys the continuous learning driven by the ingenuity and challenges Designers bring forward. Innovation using 3D Printing, 3D CAD and other technologies, combined with a diverse background as a technologist, allows Chris to find solutions that accelerate Designers, and take Design Teams to new heights. Chris is currently being held at an undisclosed location, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.