How to Stop a Program From Running in the Background

By Jane Williams

Programs running in the background can zap your computer's speed.
i John Howard/Photodisc/Getty Images

Every program on your computer requires some amount of CPU usage and RAM to operate, even when running in the background. Some programs are configured to auto-start when you boot and run silently in the background. While it's important that certain programs such as anti-virus programs run continually, others are non-essential. Closing these apps will help release RAM and CPU resources back to the programs you are actively using.

Step 1

Open Task Manager by pressing “Ctrl- Alt-Delete” and selecting “Task Manager” in the resulting dialog box. Click on “More Details” to see an expanded view of all applications currently running on the computer.

Step 2

Click the “Processes” tab, and then check the “Apps” and “Background Processes” sections for a list of everything that's currently using your computer's RAM or CPU. The percentage of CPU use is listed to the right of the app or process listing.

Step 3

Stop the apps and processes you aren't using. Select the unnecessary app or program and click the “End Task” button at the bottom of the dialog. Confirm your decision and repeat this step until all unnecessary apps and programs are closed.

Step 4

Change your startup list to prevent these programs from auto-starting next time you boot your computer. Click the “Startup” tab under Task Manager and disable anything you don't want to start automatically. Windows 8 will list whether an application has a low, medium or high impact on your startup. Stick with disabling the low-impact applications first to prevent potential boot problems.

Step 5

Close out of Task Manager and open your apps to alter their permission settings. Press “Windows-C” while an app is open and select “Settings.” Click “Permissions” and look for a “Lock Screen” option -- this appears in apps that run in the background. Flip the switch to “Off” to prevent the app from running.