St. Petersburg Times
Online: Personal Tech
Print storySubscribe to the Times


How many processes is too many for Windows XP?

Published May 31, 2004

Q. How many processes should Windows XP be running at once on my computer? When I go to the Task Manager and look at the processes, there are 50 listed. Is this normal? Could this be slowing down my computer? How can I find out what each process does?

A. On a brand new XP operating system with no optional software installed, there are approximately 18 processes. Every PC will be different depending upon what hardware it contains.

Once you start adding software such as antivirus and other drivers, the numbers start going up. The real answer is, there is no real answer.

XP does not hide as much of the operating system as previous versions of Windows did. There is more you need to know about what is running on your PC.

Are 50 processes too many? Maybe, but they all may be legitimate processes. You will see svchost many times. This is a Windows system process that many programs use to interact with the operating system. Good sites to use as references to check the names of running processes are: which also sells a product that can help automate this process; and LIUtilities ( makes a similar product called WinTask 4.

You also can check the Personal Tech archives ( for the April 26 column "Do you know what your PC is running?" to get started.

Printing a directory

Q. Can you please tell me how to print the contents of a folder that I have in My Documents? It is a folder of music files, and I would like to print the list of songs. There is no Print option under file, using Windows XP.

A. There really should be an easier way to do this, and I'm sure there is some freeware/shareware program that does. But this is how I would do it: Click Start, Run, type CMD and hit enter. This will open up a command prompt. This should put you in your default folder (C:\documents And Settings\YourName). Type CD "My Documents' and this command:

DIR /W /ON > mysongs.txt

the hit Enter.

This will put a directory listing sorted by file name into a new file named mysongs.txt in your My Documents folder. Now edit this file with any text editor such as Word, WordPad or Notepad. Add any formating or additional text if needed and print as you would any document.

Spybot, Ad-aware

Q. Following your advice I downloaded Ad-aware and Spybot. Spybot has yet to have an update after one month. Is this the norm or am I wrong to expect updates like the Ad-aware program? Also, I run Windows XP with an administrator user and two other users. However, I can download Ad-aware only to the administrator user. Is there a procedure to load the other users or does the administrator user cover all users?

A. As a matter of fact, Spybot has just released its 1.3 version. For some reason, version 1.2 doesn't make you aware of updates. Go to its Web site ( and download and install the latest version.

I've started using both Spybot and Ad-aware. What is needed in the PC software market is one comprehensive program that does spyware, antivirus and firewall protection. I'm sure it won't be long until we see this, but until then we have to piece it together.

As far as your second question, move the shortcut to the Ad-aware program to the All Users folder. In Windows File Explorer, go to C:\Documents and Settings\All users\Desktop, then copy the shortcut for Ad-aware from C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Start Menu\Programs. You also could create a shortcut on the users' desktop pointing to C:\Program Files\Lavasoft\Ad-aware 6\Ad-aware.exe, but now you know how the different-programs-for-different-users visibility works.

[Last modified May 28, 2004, 09:28:02]

Personal Tech today

  • Digital takes photography to new level, for a price
  • Going to new heights with your digital camera
  • Postings
  • Site Seeing
  • Review
  • Tweaking, printing, sharing your digital photos

  • Solutions
  • How many processes is too many for Windows XP?

  • The Buzz
  • Software to help avoid phishing hooks
  • Specials
    a special report by the St. Petersburg Times.


    Click here
    for previous technology coverage

    E-mail us at


    Tech blog
    For additional information and news from Personal Tech editor Dave Gussow click here.


    From The Wire
  • CBS Sports to open fantasy platform to developers
  • Weird gadgets at CES: Motorized unicycle, anyone?
  • Wikipedia to be blacked out over anti-piracy bill
  • Zappos says customer database hacked
  • Hackers disrupt Israel airline, stock market sites
  • China's number of Web users rises to 513 million
  • Hulu to launch first original scripted show
  • White House concerned over online piracy bills
  • Facebook, Google, others face charges in India
  • Social media widens scope of Nigeria fuel protests

    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111