I ran SiSoft sandra to benchmark my system, and noticed that it shows many more running tasks at any given moment that don't show up in the dialog box if i ctl-alt-del. for example, "ddhelp" a directx help program that is taking up system memory. are these extra programs necessary? if not, how can I stop them from running to free more system resources?
A simple way to stop unnecessary programs from running in backround is to run the "msconfig" by going to START, RUN, then typing msconfig. This takes you to the System Configuration Utility. Click on the Startup tab and uncheck all of the boxes for programs you don't want to start up when windows starts up. If you want just the essentials, just leave LoadPowerProfile and Systray checked. In the Ctrl-Alt-Del box, the essentials are Explorer and Systray. Hope this helps!
you would be amazed at how many things are running that you dont know about. There is a program at winmag.com that will tell you which tasks are active at any given time but many if not most cant and shouldnt be stopped.