Tech Tips / Windows XP / Performance Monitoring and Optimization

Decipher the name behind the process

Windows XP runs numerous processes. To view them, open Task Manager and go to the Process tab. While several of these processes are self-explanatory, the majority of them are not.

Here's a short description of some XP processes:

  • Csrss.exe: The Client Server Runtime Subsystem process, also known as the Win32 subsystem, generates a worker thread for client requests.
  • Explorer.exe: This process is the user interface/default Windows shell.
  • Iexplorer.exe: This process is the built-in Web browser.
  • Inetinfo.exe: The Internet Information Services (IIS) process is Microsoft's Web server.
  • Lsass.exe: The Local Security Authentication Server process receives authentication requests from Winlogon and calls the appropriate authentication package.
  • Mdm.exe: The Machine Debug Manager is a support process for debugging.
  • Msmsgs.exe: The Microsoft Windows Messenger process is the built-in instant messaging application.
  • Services.exe: The Service Control Manager process is responsible for starting, stopping, and interacting with system services.
  • Smss.exe: The Session Manager Subsystem is the first user mode process that's created. It's responsible for the initial launch of other subsystem processes.
  • Svchost.exe: This is a placeholder process, or Service Host, where all DLL-based services execute.
  • System: The System process contains the majority of the kernel-mode system threads.
  • System Idle Process: This process runs when no other process is executing.
  • Winlogon.exe: The logon process handles interactive user logons and logoffs.

This list includes processes that are found on most computers, but it's not exhaustive.

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