Task killers are a polarizing topic in the Android community. Some swear by their necessity and insist on their use, while others think they do more harm than good and dissuade new Android users from ever installing them.
You'll find convincing user "evidence" in support of both sides, so it's difficult to know what's fact and what's perceived as fact. If one person says task killers don't improve battery life but another person says they do, and both are speaking from first-hand experience, who are you supposed to believe?
The easiest thing to do 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 Dell Streak then here are 10 things (in oversimplified terms) you might like to know about Android.
- 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.
- 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.
- Killing a background app increases the amount of work the Streak has to do the next time you want to use it because it has to launch "cold" all over again.
- 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.
- Killing processes can sometimes have unwanted consequences (missed notifications, missed messages, disabled alarms, random reboots, etc.).
- 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.
- The system ranks all of the processes that are running on your Streak and kills them off in order of importance (least to most) when necessary.
- 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.
- Android will always try to use as much of the Streak's memory as possible; memory that is not being used is really just being wasted.
- Free memory and "filled" memory use the same amount of power.
What you choose to do with this information is up to you but for me, it means that I'm in the "no task killer" camp.
I don't have a task killer installed on my Streak right now, though I may install one in case I ever run into a poorly coded app that needs to be dealt with. Uninstalling an offending app is probably a better solution, but that may be too drastic if it's an app I still really like.
Previously published with modifications on Good and EVO.