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Windows Task Manager Information

Windows Task Manager Information

Finally, the Windows Task Manager is explained and an informative overview guide.

Most computer users quickly get to grips with the software and applications that are used on a regular basis. However there is one application included in every version Windows that many people over look, the Task Manager.

The Task Manager’s purpose in life is to provide computer performance information along with details about currently running programs and processes. It also provides the ability to monitor your network traffic if you are connected to a network.

Savvy computer users will know that a couple of quick short cuts can take you to the task manager; Ctrl + Alt + Delete and Ctrl + Shift + ESC. The task manager can usually be accessed even when other programs have crashed, enabling the user to quit an application or process, or shutdown the PC.

Once the task manger is open you will see four familiar drop-down menus; File, Options, View, Shut Down and Help. From these menus you can run programs, change the settings of the task manager or shut down the PC. Underneath the drop down menus are five tabs, it is here that displays what is running on the PC and how much CPU is being used. Let’s take a closer look at what’s going on inside the four important tabs.

Applications

Applications Tab

Applications Tab

This is where any programs that are running will be listed. This should be first tab to visit if something crashes. Once an application is highlighted, the user can simply click ‘End Task’ to quit the program, 90% of the time this will close any problem programs. ‘Switch To’ simply brings the selected applications window to the front of the desktop and the ‘New Task’ tab gives the user the option of starting a new application. These options can also be accesses by right clicking on the specific task.

Processes

Processes Tab

Processes Tab

The Process tab gives more detailed information on every process running on the system; it shows the executable file running in Windows for both user and system processes. The ‘Image Name’ is the name of the process, ‘User Name’ shows whether it is a system or user process, ‘CPU’ is the percentage of the processor time that particular application is taking up, and ‘Mem Usage’ is how much of your computer’s memory is being taken up.

From here you can really kill any applications or processes that have crashed or are unusually eating up the PC’s CPU. If an application will not close using the ‘End Task’ option in the Applications tab, then the executable file can easily be ended here. Once the chosen .exe file is selected the ‘End Process’ tab will remove the process.

If you right click on a specific process you will see three more options.

End Process Tree – This basically means that if a process was started up by another other process, task manager will try to kill everything including the parent process.

Set Priority – Priority is exactly that: what kind of privilege do you want to give or take from a process. If you’re running something like an anti-virus scan, but hate the fact that it completely disables your ability to do anything else on the computer until the scan finishes, then you can reduce the priority given to the anti-virus software so that it doesn’t use up everything.

Set Affinity – You can also set the process to run one a particular CPU if you have more than one. Click on Set Affinity and you’ll get a dialog with 32 check boxes with everything disabled except for the number of processors on your computer.

Listed in the Processes you should find the ‘System Idle Process’. The System Idle Process is a system process that runs when the computer processor is not being used. This should always be fairly high. You’ll notice that the processes keep shifting up and down, that’s because one becomes active and then might stop or another process does some work.

Performance

Performance Tab

Performance Tab

The Performance tab contains monitors displaying Physical Memory, Commit Charge, CPU Usage and Kernel Memory. Most users will have no idea what these mean so here’s a brief description of each:

CPU Usage is a graphical view of your current CPU usage. The reading will spike here and there, as programs open or momentarily work.

The next two graphs are referred to as ‘PF Usage’ and ‘Page File Usage History’; this is slightly misleading because it doesn’t actually refer to the amount of your page file being used, but is actually the commit charge.

The Total Commit Charge is a combination of the current amount of RAM (physical memory) and virtual memory being used. The Limit number underneath commit charge is the total of all your virtual memory and physical memory combined.Kernel memory is simply memory that is assigned to the operating system and that no one else can use. The sum of Paged and Nonpagedd equals the total. Paged means that some of the kernel memory is using virtual memory (the page file) and the rest is using physical memory (the RAM).

Networking

Networking Tab

Networking Tab

The Networking tab is fairly easy to understand: There is a graph for each type of network adapter on the computer; Ethernet, wireless and/or Bluetooth. At the bottom there is some basic information such as the adapter name, the network utilization, maximum link speed and current state.

This tab is very useful if, say, your connection to the Internet is slow or you are copying files between computers and it’s taking forever. For example, you can go to the Networking tab and if you see that your Local Area Connection is at 90% utilization, then you might have some kind of virus or spyware that’s eating up all your bandwidth. Utilization should be very low unless you are transferring or downloading large video or audio files.

So thats the basic overview of the Windows Task Manager, utilizing the task manager application properly can give you a much better idea of what’s going on inside the machine. Simple analysis of the task manager readings can help you figure out what problems need to be addressed or fixed.


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18 Comments

  1. This is very helpful, thank you, but how can I read the Image name? Is there a way to figure out which program it is representing? or if any of them are a sort of virus running in the backround?

  2. The easiest way is to take the image name and type it in Google and see what it pulls up. Virus scanning programs test all of the process running. Normally Virus Scan is the first thing to start so it can test everything in the start-up menu, preventing it from ever from running.

    Tune-up Utilities does a good job of explaining which each process is and if it safe or not.

  3. For some reason, end task, end process, and end process tree aren’t ending one of my applications. I can’t get it to stop. Is there anything I can do that doesn’t involve restarting my computer?

  4. This is a common case for system files and spyware. These files usually cannot be stopped because other files are accessing them. It is like when you have a Word Document file open, and you try to delete it.

    This is with spyware remover programs, it requires a restart. Before the program starts to run during start-up, the spyware remover will catch it.

    Follow this link to a Free Software that will help you out: http://www.download.com/Advanced-WindowsCare-Personal/3000-2086_4-10407614.html?tag=lst-1

  5. Thanks so much for the explanation of Task Manager. I am trying to “reinstall Direct X” to hopefully improve the fxing of a game and have been told to end all processes on TM except explore.exe and taskmgr.exe to do the reinstall and to also end these when loading the game to play.
    It goes on to tell me to be sure and do a restart, rather than a shut down, to reenable these processes. If you do a shut down instead, BAD news!! The problem that is occurring with the game is that it is constantly freezing and has to be shut down (with the power button) to reboot. Have I misunderstood? Will I have a total mess on my hands if all the processes are stopped, the computer freezes, and I have to shut it down?

  6. It did not answer my question. What does realtime mean and how will it affect the program.

  7. Real-time computing (RTC) is how hardware and software have “real-time constraint” or operational deadlines from event to system response.

    Non-real-time system is when there is no deadline, regardless of preference of speed.

    The needs of real-time software are often addressed in the context of real-time operating systems, and synchronous programming languages, which provide frameworks on which to build real-time application software.

    A real time system is when its application is considered to be critical. Real-time computations can be said to have failed if they are not completed before their deadline, where their deadline is relative to an event. A real-time deadline must be met, regardless of system load.

  8. Hi,

    I have 1GB RAM and 3GHz processor . I have RAD running n my machine.

    But at peak time ,wen my system is very slow, i checked the performance tab . CPU usage is 25% only but , PF usage is more than 1.6 GB . What should be done to increase the speed ? Whether to increase the RAM size or advise accordingly

  9. Hi Rich

    Thanks for posting such an informative blog.

  10. All

    Can someone let me know the formula for how the network utilization percentage calculated?

    Is it
    Total TX+RX bytes / link speed in bytes?

    thanks

  11. Beyond me!

  12. Hi,
    Thanks for such a detailed write-up on task managers.
    I have a problem.
    One of the executables installed on my desktop (ScreenAgent.exe) quits soon after its launched. I can actually time it spanning for about 20 seconds on the task manager! I want this process to be running continuously. Any idea how this can be done?

  13. In my task manager at the bottom where it says processes mine says 76. Is this number ok?

    Thanks  Pete

  14. NO Pete thats to high if your computer is just running idle,  If i were you i would do a virus scan AVG is a good free one + then id do a spyware scan allso SUPERANTISPYWARE  is a good one + thats free allso!

    Then just remove all the nasty buggers + your computer ‘should’  run like a dream.

    Ow + make shure u allways keep them runing in the backround + do a scan of  them both about once a week or fortnight.
    Thats what i do + ive never had no probs.

  15. SORRY PETE DONT LISTEN TO ME!!! for some reason i was thinking u were talking about the- PERFORMANCE tab… if u were talking about the- SYSTEM IDLE PROCESS, then thats fairly cool, though mine stays at 99%  nerly all the time.

     higher is better

    though i still reckon u download the spyware thing if u av not got 1 that is.

  16. can anyone confirm that, anything that runs *will* show up in the Processes tab ?
    that is, *if* there is a virus running, it WILL show up for sure – or, can certain viruses hide themselves and NOT show up in the Processes tab ?

  17. sir,
    i understood very well about task manager.
    tanks you so much
     

  18. sir,
    i understood very well about task manager
    tanks so much

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