Right now I'm on a very POS laptop. Before I launch a game, I run a batch file that kills all unnecessary tasks (anti-virus, background apps, IM, etc.) using "taskkill /im ... /f". I don't imagine this is the best way to end an app, so could anyone suggest a better way? I've also been told to not use msconfig either. Thanks.
If others have access to your laptop, you can always set a password to Taskkill otherwise I don't see why it would be unsafe, unless you run the script with unsaved documents open. Taskkill or the simpler Tskill is the command line equivalent of manually ending apps in Task Manager, only much faster. Microsoft documentation actually recommends the convenience factor of running a Tskill or Taskkill batch as a script. You could try using Tskill (found on both versions of XP) which is much simpler and requires no switches or filters. Example: to close Microsoft Word you would type (or batch) tskill winword.
I didn't mean that kind of safe... I meant, would there be any kind of file degradation, considering I run this thing once every reboot (i.e. about twice a day.)
No there should not be any file degradation. The command should not affect the files. Only the information in the RAM memory, or in the SWAP space. Which could lead to some temporary instability problems.