You should be able to use this to compare what you have running then decide what to eject.
Don't expect any big increase in performance.
I have a number of computers (and teenagers) at home and the XP PC's I have seem to slow down over time - there are lots of extra things (not applications, just services and stuff) running on them and I am sure that is what is making them run so slow. I would like to make them run just the minimum services and applications - all we need is to run IE over a shared internet connection, and MS Office - nothing else. Is there a list of required services somewhere so I can elect to not run all the automatic updates, toolbars, messenger clients, etc. etc. etc. that I don't need?
Comuters are varied but all are 2GHz Intel based with WIN XP. I can reach MSconfig, just don't know what is safe to turn off.
Any gurus who can help?
A slow down in performance can indicate viruses and spyware are rampant on a machine.
You've already mentioned toolbars and messenger clients, and these are all too often the source of malware. Young people see a fascination in toolbars for some reason, and many of the toolbars spy on internet habits to target searches and advertising. IM's can be particularly dangerous, especially if they are used in unmoderated or suspect chat rooms, and if the users transfer files between each other without virus checking the files they receive.
On a network especially, you need to be well armed with firewalls, anti-virus applications and anti-spyware utilities, and set up a regime of regular scanning.
Besides that, I believe your quest for leaner machines should be concentrated into 3 areas;
Whenever any application is installed, ensure it does not set itself to start when the computer is turned on, unless it is a necessary, eg anti-malware type, process.
Msconfig will help you remove any applications that load on start up in the Startup tab. Look for Instant Messengers, (these can be opened when required), Media Players, (ditto), especially Real Player, addons and extras that are really not necessary.
Bob's list will help you decide which are which in MSconfig. Also, the Services console will give you more descriptions of each service, (Start > Run, type in services.msc then click OK). Services can be set to automatic, set to manual, or disabled in the console.
The Processes tab of the Task Manager, (right click the Taskbar, select Task manager), is a great source of information for anything that is running that shouldn't be there, like viruses, spyware, etc.
This site, http://www.answersthatwork.com/Tasklist_pages/tasklist.htm will help you decide which are critical, useful, or downright dangerous.
No 2 XP machines seem to be alike. And certainly no 2 owners.
That's why we take a gander at what's running and then check a site as noted to see if we can decide if we can stop then disable that service.
The other response noted the more common pest issue. I'll suggest the scans with the free tools EWIDO, HOUSECALL and ROOTKIT REVEALER.
I eject all the first 2 find and research what the 3rd reports.
You are right about the teenagers being fascinated with toolbars, message clients, all that stuff! I am running Norton Internet Security on all machines, also Spybot and a-squared that I use to scan regularly. We are protected with a firewall on the router and Norton has a firewall also. I am going to use the three additional tools mentioned. This is definitley helpful, you guys are great.
Having Wi-Fi troubles?
From the garage to the basement, we blanketed every square inch of the CNET Smart Home with fast, reliable Wi-Fi.