James Kendrick posted an excellent opinion piece yesterday about software that wants to be your friend by installing an auto update feature. I agree that this is not really mobile friendly behavior, and like jk, uninstall that “feature” whenever I can. I find it really annonying to have my system slow down only to find that things are auto updating in the background, especially when I am running on battery. Many of these apps reside in memory and check home for updates on their own schedule. I also find it really annoying when I open an application that I use less than frequently and find that it will check for an update before fully letting you use the program. I look for an option to turn that off quickly.
In jk’s post he gives out some pointers for removing or disabling those apps in XP using msconfig.exe. In Vista you have another option beyond msconfig.exe that you can reach by clicking properties on My Computer. That action brings up “View basic information about your computer” screen. If you then click on the Windows Experience Index link you’ll see in the left column a link called “Manage startup programs.” Clicking this link opens The Software Explorer in Windows Defender and lets you examine and disable or enable Startup Programs.
You can also examine Currently Running Programs, Networked Connected Programs, and Winsock Service Providers. Of course I’m most interested in Startup programs here. By scrolling through the list you see applications that run on startup in the left column along with a description in the right pane. It also tells you which of these apps have been “Permitted” or are “Not Yet Classified” which tells you if the software has been analyzed or not for potential risks to your computer. You’ll need to reboot to take advantage of any benefits you’ve gained by disabling startup apps.
I think it is great that you can now update software so easily over the internet, but I would like to have more choice in how and when I peform this function. I’m on the road at the moment attending an audition conference and there is nothing more frustrating than taking a quick five minutes to check email and finding that process slowed way down by some auto updating feature of an application I have no intention of using at the moment. Of course this could all be negated by sofware that gives you an option to decline the installation of an auto updating feature when you first install the software, but hey, that just makes too much sense.