Today, I was browsing through the different processes on my XP box when I saw I had both a skype.exe and skypePM.exe processes. OK, so I don’t know what the SkypePM process is all about so I Google it and find that it is the plugin manager for skype.
I do not need extras/plugins for skype but I do need to keep skype open at all time for family use — as we do not have a land line, this is the only way to keep in touch. Anyway, I fire process explorer to see how much resource this useless process is gobbling up and here is the result:
So, this uses 7 or 8 threads (here shown 7), about 265 system handles and about 27MB of live memory (84MB of virtual memory in total). That’s a lot to pay for something you don’t use !
So, if like me you do not need Skype Plugin Manager, just go to your Skype installation folder, under the Plugin Manager folder and rename or delete the SkypePM.exe program. Or you could just remove the whole Plugin Manager folder altogether if you are sure you will never need the plugin manager.
There is a “cleaner” but slightly more complex method to get rid of it, but it involves uninstalling Skype altogether, then run the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility twice to remove the “Skype Plugin Manager” installer. Be careful at this stage as you can totally mess up your computer with a “faux-pas”. You can then go ahead and re-install Skype which will install without the plugin manager. To be honest I am not sure this is worth it.
It probably does not sound much, but it grabs some memory that could be put to better use; more importantly is creates 8 threads, each one requiring thread switching which is expensive in CPU time even though most of them are probably asleep. In the end, it is not that one program can be considered a resource hog but plenty of those can literally slow down your PC to a crawl !
On final thing. Guess what ! The Skype Plugin Manger WAS NOT developed by the Skype team. This is quite surprising. I am sure it’s written somewhere in the EULA but no-one reads them anyway… I’ll have to double check this. So apart from actually managing your plugins, who made this extra piece of software and what else does it do ? Well, according to Skype themselves, it was developed by EasyBits Software. Among other things, this strikes me as important:
“The EasyBits software includes a form of digital rights management functionality intended to protect commercial software, such as plug-ins, from illegal redistribution or unlicensed use. Simply put, the EasyBits DRM framework helps us ensure compliance with software usage and distribution.”
“It is quite normal to look at indicators that uniquely identify the platform and there is nothing secret about reading hardware parameters from the BIOS. The function calls to do this are public and are available to any software running on your computer. Of course, in line with our Privacy Agreement, Skype does not retrieve any of this data. It is only used by the EasyBits software to ensure that plug-in use complies with the appropriate license token or key.”
So it “just” manages your plugins and while it is at it, it will finger-prints your computer too — to ensure that the plugins are not cracked or installed where they should not, of course. Now, we are all very trusting and if Skype says that they do not retrieve any data we should be ok with that, no ? Well… I’m not too happy to see that with a software that I (and many other people) install comes a little finger-printing tool that could potentially be used for tracking purposes.
DRM versus Privacy, I guess some have already made their mind, so have I…, bye bye SkypePM !!