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Chris Dougherty
Chris Dougherty

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What are background processes in computing?

A background process does work for a computer in a way that optimizes performance of the user interface.


  • Running an automatic update for an application.
  • A word processor printing a file.
  • Checking the device’s network connection.

How it works

The user interface is run on a particular thread (a thread is a sequence of programmed instructions executed by the CPU). Background processes are run on a separate thread from the user interface. And running these on a separate thread can have the potential to prevent background processes from affecting the performance of the UI. In some cases, background processes can run even if the application that triggered them is closed.

What are they used for?

Background processes are ideal for tasks that have the potential to diminish the performance of a user interface. Examples of this include downloading or uploading large media files. Running these as a background process can prevent the tasks from slowing down the performance of the UI. They are also great for tasks that require little to no user interaction such as logging, system monitoring, scheduling and user notification.

Getting started

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