Why executable names are important

Charlie Kindel kicked off an interesting discussion today amongst Microsoft bloggers about the relationship between blogs, search engines, and more formal support channels such as MSDN. As a side-effect, Raymond Chen kindly pointed me at his .Text referrer-log tools, which enabled me to scratch an itch that I’ve had for a month.

Namely, how much should I be charging Toshiba and/or Microsoft for all the Google hits I get for my post “What is all this stuff doing on my computer?”. As it turns out, here’s what people are interested in:

Hits Search term
86 000stthk.exe
43 tfnf5.exe
35 tabtip.exe
31 sapisvr.ee
23 wisptis.exe
21 trot.exe
20 tabbtnu.exe
19 tpwrtray.exe
12 ndstray.exe
18 tpa.exe
9 touched.exe
1 toshkcw.exe


(If you’re searching for more information about one of those executables, I explain what they do in this older post)

And here are the lessons that I draw:

  • I should be charging Toshiba (000stthk, tfnf5) more than Microsoft (taptip, sapisrvr).
  • 000stthk is a terrible name for a binary – maybe people are suspicious of that 000 prefix?
  • toshkcw is a great name for a binary – as long as it’s running on a Toshiba.
  • Neither Toshiba nor Microsoft have done a great job of explaining what this stuff is.

How about you? What’s the most suspicious, obscure, or just plain stupid executable name that you’ve ever seen?

Comments (14)

  1. Jonathan,


    not because of the name though. 🙂


    thomas woelfer

  2. In Office XP, sapisvr.exe would load every time Outlook opened. It would chew up 95% of the CPU and 100mb of RAM, making it look a lot like a virus.

    The lesson from this (that MS has obviously learnt with Office 2003) is that you shouldn’t load resource intensive crap like the Speach API Server by default.

  3. kchad says:


  4. Adrian Moore says:


  5. Scott Allen says:

    Occasionaly I see DIALER.EXE in the system directory and my mind registers "war dialer".

  6. Mike Dimmick says:

    Based on a discussion yesterday, security.dll (see http://www.codeproject.com/script/comments/forums.asp?msg=805461&forumid=1650#xx805461xx). Don’t name _any_ binary that you’re going to use in a shared process with a system DLL’s name.

  7. Gertje says:

    As said before svchost.exe

  8. Going off on a tangent here – why are we still tying ourselves in knots trying to cram meaning into an 8-character name? We’ve had long filename support for years now, so where are all the executable names that actually mean something?

  9. Kelly Logan says:

    aexswdinstsvc.exe – This is a component of the Alitiris Client Management Suite. I found it on my laptop after visiting a client site (they had set me up with a network account, the login of which loaded it). It increased my startup time to a few minutes and dragged my standard processes to a crawl (just running iexplorer triggered it and pegged my CPU for two minutes until I ended the process). Uninstalling the software did not remove it, I had to pull it out of my registry line by line, including using the System Config Utility to disable it in startup.

  10. Mike Bennett says:

    Sorry to pickup an old thread, but the poorly named exes wouldn’t be so bad if the description/comments fields were populated with something meaningful. This lays squarely with the release team when the exe is finally compiled. Unless, of course, it’s a secret what the app does … BTW, if you use autoruns then ‘jump to’ the item, you can rename the likes of ‘000stthk’ to ‘Toshiba Function Key’ (the ‘name’ NOT the exe), so that in 6 months when you cant remember what it does, you’ll have something meaningful, which, incidentially, shows up nicely in autoruns too. One word of warning though, dont use ‘/’ in the name (a la Toshiba LCD/CRT for TFnF5) as that will freak it out.

  11. Mr. Talktomuch says:

    Because Microsoft’s OS team suck. Because Microsoft and Toshiba don’t document this stuff and because they unnecessarily clutter our poor machines with crap we will never use.

  12. Update : autoruns has gotten even better — check out my latest post about it. The first time I ran task