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Should you use a task killer on your HTC EVO 4G?

Evo-task-killerTask killers are a polarizing topic in the Android community. There are those who swear by their necessity and insist on their use, and there are those who think task killers do more harm than good and dissuade new Android users from ever installing them. But which group is correct and more importantly, should you use a task killer on your HTC EVO?

You'll find compelling arguments and user "evidence" in support of both sides, so it's difficult to know what's actual fact and what some just believe to be true. If one person says that task killers don't improve battery life but another person says they do, and both are speaking from first-hand experience, whose lead should you follow?

The easiest thing to do, of course, is to download a task killer and try it for yourself. If you think it's making a positive difference, then keep it; if it's making a negative difference, then remove it. Your personal perception is really all that matters.

But if you'd rather make an informed decision than engage in a game of trial-and-error on your EVO, then here are 10 things (in oversimplified terms) you might like to know about Android.

  1. Android is designed to manage memory for you. It tries to keep tasks active for as long as possible but will automatically kill them when you need more memory or when they're not used for a long time.
  2. The system ranks all of the processes that are running on your EVO and kills them off in order of importance (least to most) when necessary.
  3. When applications are running in the background, they use very little memory and aren't really doing anything but "saving your place" so you can quickly jump back into them.
  4. Killing a background app increases the amount of work the EVO has to do the next time you want to use it because it has to launch "cold" all over again.
  5. Some stock Android apps start by themselves and will restart even after you kill them. They're not doing any harm or using any power, so you can leave them alone.
  6. Android will always try to use as much of the EVO's memory as possible; memory that is not being used is really just being wasted.
  7. A task killer is best used on rogue apps that unnecessarily consume power and resources, not on every app you see listed that you didn't launch yourself.
  8. The auto-kill feature offered in many task killers can do more harm than good because power is used for every killing spree. And after all the extra memory is freed, Android goes back to work to try to use it as efficiently as possible again.
  9. Free memory and "filled" memory use the same amount of power.
  10. Killing processes can sometimes have unwanted consequences (missed notifications, missed messages, disabled alarms, random reboots, etc.).

What you choose to do with this information is up to you.

If you use a task killer and see real benefits from it, then don't pay attention to people who say those benefits are just figments of your imagination. If you used a task killer and then uninstalled it because you think your EVO runs better without it, then ignore those who blame any performance issues you may have on the fact that you're not using one.

In other words, do whatever you want. It's your EVO!

I have a task killer installed on my EVO for one reason and only reason only: #7 above. If an app freezes/crashes or is the cause of noticeable battery drain, then it's nuked with a task killer. That's the sole purpose of a task killer on my EVO.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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23 thoughts on “Should you use a task killer on your HTC EVO 4G?

  • So what’s a good task killer then? There’s sooo many. Free or otherwise, what do you guys use??

    Reply
  • I do not use a Task Killer and I have fine battery life. Even if there is some sort of negligible advantage, it is one less thing for me to worry about and one less application running. I tried it for a week, then read up on the statements about Android similar to what is listed here and decided to ditch the task killer and i haven’t been negatively impacted.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Nick Stewart

    I was a big Advanced Task Killer supporter/user until I got this email from the developers:

    “Whether you need to use ATK or not, it all depends on if you need to terminate apps by yourself or by OS. I am not sure if there are any apps alive consume battery a lot. If you use ATK to kill some apps consume battery a lot, it might save your battery. But I have to say there isn’t any app can save battery directly. Every app can consume resource and can consume battery. So I suggest you don’t use ATK very often. According to google’s investigation, 3g, wifi, internet, gps consume battery a lot. I suggest you turn off those kind of apps to see if your battery live a little longer.

    Regards,
    Rechild Support Team”

    I’ve uninstalled it and could still get 20 hours (max) and on average 15 hours battery life without it (My #1 tips… sign out of gtalk or any instant messaging apps).

    Reply
  • I used this App and it keeps killing my 4G signal i know some people dont want it on to extend battery life but if im paying 10 extra bucks a month i want my 4G service. If they can find a way to stop auto killing the 4g ill DL it again but even with the Auto kill off it manages to stop my 4G services

    Reply
  • I use one but not in “auto kill” mode. I just use it to kill the Sprint bloatware when I first boot up and then to kill processes that might be slowing the thing down. Sometimes a poorly written java script will bog down the browser and, it appears to me, the phone. Then I will kill the sumbitch.

    But I would never allow it to autokill and all of the processes that are part of Android or HTC Sense I put in the ignore list.

    Reply
  • Advanced task killer, it comes up in the top free apps. Then just go on an “ignore spree” and add anything that is part of sense or android (messaging, music, weather, services, widgets) to the ignore list.

    Then put the “kill all” button on the desktop and only hit it when something goes haywire (bad browser page hogging memory, poorly written app wont die, etc).

    Reply
  • Avatar of Supermauro

    My Evo started rebooting itself several times a day after I installed task killer, and stopped rebooting itself after I uninstalled it, also it made my Evo freeze one morning causing the alarm not to go off and I almost got late to work.

    Reply
  • Another vote in the “NO” camp. As you’ve stated before, Android is designed from the ground up to handle task management automatically.

    Task killers interfere with this process because task killing is a brute force mechanism that Android or other programs are simply unaware of–it’s like an invisible hand of god, smiting programs. The problem with this is that Android and programs will treat such a brute force closure as an unanticipated program crash and try to start it up again or recover in some way (see points 5 and 10 raised by Jenn).

    At the end of the day, Task Killers are really cheap band-aids for “laziness.” Laziness on the part of developers to properly think about how to structure their application to minimize the duration it’s active for; to properly provide user options to turn off certain persistent services; to provide users clear, unambiguous methods for “signing off” or turning off applications, etc. But also laziness on the part of users — to properly understand the applications they are downloading and using; to properly explore and configure applications in a way that optimizes battery life (or other use patterns); to uninstall and rid themselves of applications made by lazy developers (and downrank them as well); etc.

    As an aside, in my experience, it’s not really the programs running in the background that causes power consumption problems; it’s programs running in the background that are polling the internet (using the 3G radio constantly will consume power like nobody’s business). I’m amazed at people who accidentally/unknowingly are logged into google chat, fring, qik, and other persistent apps that are constantly polling servers, updating statuses.

    Reply
  • Jenn – Have you taken a look at JuiceDefender vs using a task killer? On the surface, it seems to address the real power issue here: whether or not the phone’s radios are active or not. Looks like it has some nice features. I haven’t tried it on the EVO yet.

    Reply
  • Alright. I’m totally have been convinces to side with the “taks killers are bad” faction. How about this? Is there an app that tells me what apps are runaway? hogging memory? I open advanced task killer and sometimes there are 20-30 apps open…which one might be bad?

    Reply
  • Avatar of TheTwanksta

    I had the exact same situation, I try to tell everyone I know with the EVO to NOT install any ATK. I had it on my phone and it began rebooting itself all the time as well, I ended up doing a factory reset and my phone has been running better than ever and I consistently get 15-20 hours of battery life with moderate usage during the day/heavy usage in the evenings. The battery life is actually quite amazing IMO for a phone of this caliber. DO NOT INSTALL ATK’s!

    Reply
  • Avatar of TheTwanksta

    PS. All of my local Sprint stores are installing this application BEFORE they even hand the phone over to you when activating. They did this for me, my girlfriend and a close friend of mine. I just let them install it and removed it immediately after. All three phones have been reporting the same battery life with the known “tweaks” floating around the net and a couple of my own. ;)

    HTC EVO ROCKS!

    Reply
  • Any battery tweaks that aren’t already in the 25 tips list on this site?

    Reply
  • I agree with the information you received and your advise. Those chat apps, gps etc, really can kill a battery in no time. I’ve learned to turn them on when i need them. My first day with Evo took it off the charger at 8am, before 1030 i was at almost 30%. I have followed all of the battery tips and found that i can go a day with normal activity and still go to bed(1 a.m.) with 50 to 70% of juice left. Made a huge difference.

    Reply
  • you’re lucky to be in the areas to experience the 4G. I don’t blame you.

    Reply
  • I’ve looked at it but haven’t tried it either. I already like using the widgets to control the radios (so easy to turn them on/off).

    Reply
  • How do you get so many hours on yours. I have 4g, wifi, gps and i still get bad battery life and im not on it all day. during the day i send a a few texts and maybe a phone call. and check facebook rarely. Any help would be great thanks

    Brad

    Reply
  • So delete task killers and do a factory reboot and i should get more batery life? I use about the same battery as you describe and i have a task killer (which not sure how to use) and i dont get a lot of hours i think about 18 hrs and im in the red for the battery. any advice will help

    Reply
  • So how do i close out of programs or what programs do i force stop…or setting s that i can change to get more battery life.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Alisha Lopez RN

    I had to go to the Sprint store today, a corporate one not a individually managed one. The reason is that I had downloaded task killer and apparently HTC has been getting messages from stores like the one I went to, that there is some type of “bug” that hits some phones that use them. What ends up happening is that it eventually ties up your downloading ability and you can no longer download even from the app store.
    What they had to do to fix it? COMPLETELY restore my phone back to factory…meaning I had to recreate a NEW gmail account, lost ALL my apps, and so and and so on….

    SO MY advice and the apparent new advice from HTC regarding task killers is avoid them. contact your local CORPORATE Sprint store and you can verify what I am saying. HTC has been working on a “fix/repair” for this but it happens to intermittently to know who or when one will have this happen.!

    Reply
  • Avatar of IUJAZZDAD

    Thanks for all the great comments here. I used ATK religiously until yesterday when the phone started crashing crashing and rebooting. I wiped the thing to factory, reloaded only those Apps I really really use, including Pandora and Slacker Radio. I’ve had serious issues with Slacker, with errors, songs skipping for no reason and the like. Without ATK, no more problems… so far.

    Reply
  • Do a master restore. I had the same problem and that was the only thing that fixed. My batt life sucked….. I would only get about two hrs on a full charge…I know doing a master restore is a bit of a bitch but it helped my phone.

    Reply

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