|THE COMPUTER HAS CRASHED OR FROZEN|
One of the most frustrating things that can happen when using a computer is that an application suddenly Crashes, or Freezes, on you for no apparent
reason. In this section I will teach you how to stop (shutdown/kill), if it is possible, an application (and its processes and services, if it has any)
so that you can try and release its resources (i.e. used memory). This is regardless if it has crashed/frozen or not.
I say if it is possible and try because some crashed/frozen applications/processes/services might not release their resources even when they have been stopped simply because those resources might of become locked (unusable) when the crash/freeze happened. That is what a crash/freeze tends to do - Lock resources.
Service - A Service is basically a sub-program/sub-task in its own right that can be used by many different applications. For example.
If an application such as Microsoft Word 2007 uses the Spooler (Printer) service it means that application has the ability to print - It will use the
Spooler service to take care of the files it wants printing. However. If the Spooler service is not available, due to a Crash/Freeze, the application
will not have the ability to print.
Freeze - If an application (or service) Freezes it usually means it has become unresponsive to keyboard and/or mouse input. This is normally due to a badly written piece of code that has wandered off in the wrong direction or simply down to the fact that you have given the application (or service) too much work to do.
Crash - If an application (or service) Crashes it means it has stopped executing instructions. This could be permanent or temporary, depending on whether or not the application (or service) has lost the plot or is just waiting upon the actions of another application (and/or service) before it allows itself to continue.
An application and/or service will normally crash or freeze when the computer has been given to much work to do - Either by you, other applications, other services or all three - and/or when the computer is lacking resources. For example. It might not have enough memory to do everything at once and/or its hardware might be too slow for certain types of job. The best way to diagnose this is to know what your computer is capable of. Give it five jobs to do for example and see how it copes. If all is well give it ten jobs to do next time. If it cannot do those ten jobs properly, or to your liking, you know your computer is only good at doing five jobs well.
|SHUTDOWN AN APPLICATION|
The normal thing to do when an application (or service) crashes is to try and stop it (shut it down/kill it), by executing (running/launching) TASK MANAGER,
before it goes on to cause serious trouble (i.e. freeze the computer and/or crash other applications/services).
Task Manager is a program specifically designed for the monitoring and killing of Applications, Processes (an application's Start-Up Process and Third-Party Processes) and Services. You launch it by first pressing (holding down) the CTRL and SHIFT keyboard keys together (or one at a time if you prefer). Then, with the CTRL and SHIFT keyboard keys still held down, you press the ESC keyboard key. As you do this TASK MANAGER's window will appear (Fig 1.1).
When the Task Manager window appears (above) it is normally the Applications TAB (window) that is selected. Its job is to display a list of currently
opened applications. In this example the applications called Windows Live Mail and Windows Media Player are open.
From the list you can choose to end (shutdown/kill) an application by first selecting it and then clicking on the END TASK button (Fig 1.1 above). In this example I selected Windows Media Player and then clicked on the END TASK button. END TASK ends the application straight away, if it can, without bringing up the usual "Are you sure you want to.....?" confirmation window.
END TASK means end (shutdown/kill) the application - This includes disassociating the application from any Third-Party processes it may be using, as well as any services and resources (i.e. memory) it may be using, before END TASK stops that application completely. So if the application is using the Spooler (Printer) service END TASK tells the Spooler service to disassociate itself from the application. Once this is done the Spooler service remains open/running so that other applications can still use it. In some circumstances a service may be forced to shutdown in order for the application to be shutdown, whereas in other circumstances the service will prevent the application from shutting down. In that case you might receive an error message: "Could not shutdown application because ??? service is still running". The same applies to a process.
Process - A process is simply a function (routine piece of code) that is used over and over again by many applications. Rather than 10
applications writing (coding) the same Print_This() function inside their own code, for example, they all call the Print_This() function from within a
third-party piece of code (.exe file or .dll file) instead - Why reinvent the wheel? Therefore, only one Print_This() function is written (coded) and
A DLL (Dynamically Linked Library) is simply a library (small program/file) containing many functions inside it. An application links up with (connects to) a DLL in order to use one or more of its functions. Hence why you get a .dll error when a function has not been called (used/linked to) correctly or when the .dll has not been registered with Windows 7 properly. A Service operates more or less the same as a Process but is a sub-program/sub-task as opposed to a separate function called from a library of functions (a dll) for example.
|SHUTDOWN A PROCESS|
As said above, sometimes an application cannot be shutdown because something else is preventing END TASK from doing so. For example. The application might
still be associated with a process, in which case you need to shutdown the process in order to shutdown the application. Shutting a process down means
shutting it down completely - Any other application using that process will be asked by END PROCESS to disassociate itself from the process otherwise it
may be forced to shutdown.
Ending a process is as easy as ending a task. Simply select the Processes TAB (window), then select the process you want to end (shutdown/kill) before clicking on the END PROCESS button. In Fig 2.0 below I selected the Windows Media Player (wmplayer.exe) process before clicking on the END PROCESS button.
Although Windows 7 may give you a description about a certain process, at the end of the day you are going to have to research that process to get a
better idea of what it does and/or what it is associated with before you try and END PROCESS it. Otherwise you could damage Windows 7 indirectly. For
example. Ending an Anti-Virus process might leave Windows 7 open to virus attacks.
A good website that explains processes in more detail is the Process Library website. It also has a FREE Process Information tool called Process Quick Link 2 that puts a green Information Icon next to each process in TASK MANAGER, once it is installed. Clicking on a green information icon takes you to a specific web page that details the process. To avoid clicking on the wrong information icon I recommend letting the process list settle down (about 5-8 seconds) and then highlight the process you are interested in before clicking on its green information icon.
Below is a list of some common processes for Windows Vista and Windows 7 in general as well as for some common Third-Party processes. I have given you general guidance on whether or not you should END PROCESS a certain process. If a process is marked YES - IF YOU DO NOT NEED IT it means you can END PROCESS that process in order to free up its resources for example. One thing to note here is that END PROCESS only ends a process for now - If you restart your computer for example that process will be launched (run/executed) again when the computer has restarted.
|Manufacturer||Process Name||Purpose||END TASK?|
|Grisoft||avgcc||AVG Control Center||YES - If Crashes or Asked to by Engineer|
|Logitech||communications_helper||Logitech - Webcam||YES - If you do not need it|
|Microsoft||csrss||Client/Server Runtime Server Subsystem||NO - It is part of Windows Vista & 7|
|Microsoft||ctfmon||MS Office - Language Bar||YES - If you do not need it|
|Microsoft||dwm||Windows 7 - Desktop Effects Manager||NEVER under normal circumstances|
|Microsoft||ehmsas||Windows Media Center - State Aggregator Service||NO - Not normally|
|Microsoft||ehtray||Windows Media Center - System Tray process||NO - Not normally|
|Microsoft||explorer||The backbone of the Start Menu, Desktop, Etc||YES - If Crashes or Asked to by Engineer|
|Intel||hkcmd||Hotkey Command||YES - If you do not need it|
|Microsoft||ieusers||Set up Internet Explorer's security settings||NEVER under normal circumstances|
|Apple||itunes||ITunes / Ipod software||YES - If you do not need it|
|Microsoft||lsass||Local Security Authority Service||NEVER under normal circumstances|
|Microsoft||lvcomsx||Logitech - Multimedia Enhancements||YES - If you do not need it|
|Microsoft||mdm||Internet Explorer - Debug Web Page Scripts||NEVER under normal circumstances|
|Microsoft||mobsync||Internet Explorer - Sync offline web pages||NEVER under normal circumstances|
|Microsoft||msascui||Windows Defender Anti-Spyware||NEVER under normal circumstances|
|Real Networks||realplay||Real Player||YES - If you do not need it|
|Real Networks||realsched||Real Player - Check For Updates Scheduler||YES - If you do not need it|
|Microsoft||services||Manages (Starts and Stops) Services||NEVER under normal circumstances|
|McAfee||shstat||Part of McAfee Anti-Virus||YES - If Crashes or Asked to by Engineer|
|Microsoft||svchost||Handles Processes from a DLL||NEVER under normal circumstances|
|Microsoft||taskeng||Windows 7 - Task Scheduler||NO - Not normally|
|Microsoft||taskmgr||Windows Task Manager||N/A|
|Microsoft||unsecapp||Synchronizes Information||NO - Not normally|
|Microsoft||winlogon||Windows 7 - Log-In/Log-Out manager||NEVER under normal circumstances|
|Microsoft||wlmail||Windows Live Mail||YES - If you do not need it|
|Microsoft||wmpnscfg||Windows Media Player - Network Sharing||YES - If you do not need it|
|SHUTDOWN A SERVICE|
To stop, start or restart a service you could launch (run/execute) Services from task manager, by clicking on the Services TAB (window) and then on the
SERVICES button, but it is better to launch Services from the Control Panel. So close task
manager, if you have it open, and then follow these instructions to launch Services.
With the Control Panel window open click on the ADMINISTRATIVE TOOLS icon (Fig 3.0) to open the Administrative Tools window and from that window double click on the SERVICES icon (Fig 3.1) to open the Services window (Fig 3.2).
When the Services window appears (above) it displays a list of services, many of which are generic and can therefore be used by Windows 7 and Third-Party
software in general. Most of the 100+ services enable/manage something (such as Security, Encryption and/or the Internet) whilst the others take care of
the basic running of Windows 7 - Printer, Audio, Parental Controls, Installation and so on.
In the above example I scrolled down the list, selected the Print Spooler (Printer) Service and then clicked on the STOP link (located in the top-left corner of the window) in order to stop the printer. Or to be more precise, stop the Print (Job) Manager. Upon doing this the following message requester appeared, informing me it was attempting to close down the Print Spooler service (which it did).
ATTEMPTING TO STOP..... This is absolutely correct because, as said above, it is not always the case that a process or service can be stopped - due to the nature of a Crash or Freeze for example or due to other applications using that service as well.
As you can see. It is very easy to, attempt, to STOP (or RESTART) a service just as it is to end a process (END PROCESS). And just the same as a process,
it is not the easy stopping of a service you need to worry about but knowing what service can be stopped. You will probably find the name of a service,
and its description, (Fig 3.2 above) means nothing to you, because of it having a technical description, which is the case for many beginners and advanced
users alike. Luckily there are websites out there that attempt to break down the technicals of Services into something a little more understandable, such
as SpeedyVista (It covers
Windows 7 services too).
SpeedyVista offers a nice break down of each Service and also gives information about what other services, if any, are associated to the service you are reading about. For example. You might be successful at stopping a service because it has no other services associated with it, but on the other hand you might be unsuccessful at stopping a service because its associated services are preventing you from doing so.
Below I have explained some of the more common services for you. If you do want to STOP (or RESTART) any of them remember to read up about them first, from SpeedyVista for example, as stopping/restarting any them might cause unwanted problems for Windows 7.
|Service Name||Status||Startup Type||Description|
|Application Experience||Started||Manual||Tries To Get Third-Party Applications Launched Properly|
|Application Information||Started||Manual||Allows A User To RUN AS ADMINISTRATOR An Application|
|Background Intelligence Transfer Service||Started||Manual||Continue A Broken Download (Due To A Logoff/Shutdown)|
|Computer Browser||Started||Manual||Maintains An Updated List Of Computers On The Network|
|Cryptographic Services||Started||Automatic||Confirms Signatures And Manages Root Certificates|
|Desktop Window Manager Session Manager||Started||Automatic||Looks After The (Aero) Desktop|
|Diagnostic Policy Service||Started||Automatic||Verifies That Applications Are Installed Correctly|
|Diagnostic Service Host||Started||Manual||Tools To Detect Problems With Windows|
|Diagnostic System Host||Manual||Tools To Detect Problems With Windows|
|Human Interface Device Access||Started||Manual||Manages HID (i.e. TouchPad And HotKeys)|
|Parental Controls||Manual||Enables/Manages Parental Controls|
|Plug And Play||Started||Automatic||Enables Hardware To Be Automatically Recognized/Setup|
|Print Spooler||Started||Automatic||Print Queue/Print Job Management|
|Problems Reports And Solutions Control Panel Support||Manual||Allows You To Send Problem-Reports To Microsoft|
|Protected Storage||Started||Manual||Provides Protection For Passwords/Sensitive Data|
|Security Center||Started||Automatic (Delayed Start)||Monitors Windows Security Settings And Configurations|
|Server||Started||Automatic||Used For File Sharing And Print Sharing|
|Task Scheduler||Started||Automatic||Enables A User To Schedule A Task|
|Themes||Started||Automatic||Windows Themes Manager|
|Windows Audio||Started||Automatic||Windows Audio Manager|
|Windows Defender||Started||Automatic (Delayed Start)||Windows Anti-Malware Protection|
|Windows Firewall||Started||Automatic||Windows Firewall Service|
|Windows Image Acquisition (WIA)||Started||Manual||Scanner/Camera Services|
|Windows Installer||Manual||Manages Installation Of Software (.msi files)|
|Windows Search||Started||Automatic||Manages The Indexing/Searching Of Files/E-Mails/Etc|
|Windows Update||Started||Automatic (Delayed Start)||Manages (Downloads And Installs) Windows Updates|
After SERVICE NAME is STATUS - STARTED means the service has started and BLANK
(Empty) means the service has not been started. STATUS TYPE can be one of four states:
AUTOMATIC - The service starts automatically when the computer is switched on. When the service is no longer needed it will be stopped automatically but its STATUS will remain as Automatic.
AUTOMATIC (Delayed Start) - The same as Automatic but the service might not start immediately. It may have a short delay in starting to help the other services cope. In other words, this service will be classed as not-so-urgent.
MANUAL - The service can be started/stopped manually, when necessary, either by a process or by a user.
DISABLED - The service is never started, regardless if it is needed or not.
The above information is needed when you want to set the STARTUP TYPE of a service. Simply stopping a service as described in Fig 3.2 above for example will only STOP that service temporarily. Once you restart the computer all services that were stopped only will have their original STARTUP TYPE reset. So if you stopped the Print Spooler service only it will be restarted (switched on again) after a computer restart. This is because its STARTUP TYPE will remain set to Automatic.
To change the STARTUP TYPE for a service (such as the Print Spooler service) first right click on its name, in the list of services, to bring up the Options menu (Fig 3.4 below) and then left click on the PROPERTIES menu-item to bring up the Properties window (Fig 3.5). The Properties window will be configured to show the current settings, including STARTUP TYPE, of that service. From there, left click on the STARTUP TYPE drop-down menu and then select (left click on) the startup type you want to use. In this example I have chosen to disable the Print Spooler (Printer) service by selecting DISABLED.
After selecting DISABLED in the above example the APPLY button became active to allow me to apply the DISABLED setting straight away, but as I knew this
was the only setting I wanted to change I clicked on the OK button instead. If you want to change other settings simply make your changes and then click
on the OK button as well - Clicking on the APPLY button is only useful if you want to test settings (i.e. change a setting, APPLY it, don't like it so
change it again, APPLY again, etc). In this example though there is no use for APPLY.
Changing the STARTUP TYPE only changes the state of the service for the next time you restart the computer. In this example the Print Spooler service is still active (Started) and will only be disabled when I switch off my computer. The next time I switch on my computer the Print Spooler service will be off (not Started) and completely disabled. Therefore, if I want to STOP the service now I will have to stop it using the STOP link as described in Fig 3.2 above and even then the service will only be stopped but not disabled - I could easily restart the Print Spooler service again by clicking on the RESTART link (top-left corner). In the case of the Print Spooler service being DISABLED the next time I start my computer; I would need to un-disable it first, by resetting the STARTUP TYPE to Automatic for example, before I could start it up again (by clicking on the START link).
So to re-cap. If an application (program) crashes on you you should first try and end its current task (job), by selecting the application and then clicking on Task Manager's END TASK button (Fig 1.1 above). If that does not close the application, see if the application has a process associated with it. If it does, end that process by selecting it and then clicking on Task Manager's END PROCESS button (Fig 2.1 above). If that does not close the application, as a last result, see if the application can be stopped by shutting down an associated service. An example of having to carry out this scenario is not just limited to a crashed application. A computer engineer, from your broadband provider for example, might ask you to shutdown your Anti-Virus application in order to solve an internet connection problem for example - This is because an anti-virus application normally has a Task, a Process and a Service too.
Microsoft product screen shot(s) reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation. As stated here by the Microsoft Corporation.