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Troubleshoot Windows with Task Manager

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Task Manager is a Windows system utility that displays the tasks or processes currently running on your computer. To open Task Manager, press Ctrl+Alt+Del. The Applcations tab lists the applications currently running on your computer. A single application may actually consist of several running processes, and many programs that run in the background are not listed (you can see icons for some of these programs in the System Tray).

Note: With Windows 98 and Windows Me, Ctrl+Alt+Del will open Program Manager, which allows you only to close aplications. However, you can download one of the many Task Manager utilities from the Web.

The Processes tab displays a comprehensive list of all the processes currently running on your computer. This can be very useful for monitoring your system. The process tab displays information about the processor useage and memory usage of each process. The problem is, how to identify a process. Below is a list of some processes you may see in Task Managers Processes list.

"System Idle Process"
"System" The Windows System Process
"SMSS.EXE" Session Manager Subsystem
"CSRSS.EXE" Client Server Runtime Subsystem
"WinLOGON.EXE" The Windows Logon process
"SERVICES.EXE" Services Control Manager
"LSASS.EXE" Local Security Authentication Server Service
"svchost.exe" Service Host
"spoolsv.exe" The print spooler service
"explorer.exe" Windows Explorer
"TASKMGR.EXE" The Task Manager
"regsvc.exe" Remote Registry Service

“System Idle Process” is basically another name for the time when Windows is doing nothing. There are hundreds of thousands of processes that run on a computer, so you will definitely find names of many other processess that are not listed above. For a list of well known processes, visit www.answersthatwork.com/Tasklist_pages/tasklist.htm. You can also learn about almost any task by using it’s name as a search term in google.

Task Manager can also be used to tweak your system if it’s running slow. The [Performance] tab displays running graphs of your computers CPU and memory usage. If the CPU usage seems to be running over 80 percent most of the time, or if the memory usage seems to be running higher than the total physical memory, you may want to shut down some applications or processes.

On the Process tab, you can identify processes that are consuming a lot of processor time. Click twice on the CPU column heading to sort the CPU column so the processes hogging the most CPU time on top. You can sort the “Mem Usage” column the same way.

On the Application tab, if you right click on the name of an application and, in the popup menu that appears, choose “Go To Process”, Task Manager will open the Processes tab and highlight the process that runs the application. On the Processes tab, if you right-click on the name of a process, you can choose “SetPriority” and promote the priority of the process you need (or demote the priority of a different process to free up some resources).

If you go to the Application tab and shut down an application, you will shut down any processes related to that application. Or, you might choose to shut down a background process that you can identify. To shut down an application or process, click on it’s name in the list to highlight it, then click on the [End Task] button.

On the Processes tab, if you right click on the name of a process, you can choose “End Process Tree” to kill the process and any sub-processes started by the process.

Task Manager can also be used for troubleshooting. If an application freezes up, you can open Task Manager and shut down the application. If the entire system freezes up, you can use Task Manager to shut down a process that is hogging all the CPU time or memory.

If you spend some time monitoring your computer with task Manager, eventually you will become familiar with the processes that commonly run. Then, when you see an unfamiliar process, you can do a little investigation to make sure it’s not a virus. For example, if you see msblast.exe in the process list, your computer is infected with the Blaster virus. You might be able to detect and eliminate a new virus before an antivirus update is available.

Stephen Bucaro

To learn how to maintain your computer and use it more effectively to design a Web site and make money on the Web visit bucarotechelp.com. To subscribe to Bucaro TecHelp Newsletter visit http://bucarotechelp.com/search/000800.asp.

Troubleshoot Windows with Task Manager
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