Have you ever wanted to peek under the hood (so-to-speak) of Windows? (For most of us it is a don’t know and don’t want to know perspective.) There are times when a bit of information can really help resolve problems. A few basic ways to peek at what’s going inside your computer can really help when trying to figure out problems.
Enter the “Task Manager”. It’s been with Windows since the early days (Ctrl-Alt-Del) and can give you a bunch of information in a hurry. Coupled with the “Resource Monitor” on Windows 7 and newer computers and finally there is quite a bit of info available to the user about what is going on inside their computer. It’s always been the Swiss Army Knife of system reporting for us techs. Task Manager is accessed in many ways but right clicking the Taskbar at the bottom or your screen and selecting it from the menu is the easiest. (Yes, Ctrl-Alt-Del still works.)
Quick and easy: Most people only want to know the current state of their computer. Choose the [Performance] tab. If any of the CPU, Memory or Disk readouts are over 50%, you are probably experiencing some slowdown. If any of these are 90%+, you have problems and are probably seeing system freezes and large delays in what you are doing. Click on the next tab to the left [Processes] and you can see what programs are using which of the computer resources. Each of the columns under [Processes] can be clicked on and sorted (CPU, Memory, Disk, etc.) so you can determine which process/program is causing problems or consuming resources in which areas of your computer and detect which are the worst offenders. Below you can see that Google's Chrome is working hard to display a national news site that is using flash, pop-ups and other multi-media to try and unduly impress its visitors.
Advanced: The other tabs in Task Manager cover different ways of displaying current running programs, apps, and services as well as displaying what starts up when your computer starts in the [Startup] tab. You can control startup items here as well as displaying services that are running. Use caution, Task Manager can stop essential services that are running if you request it usually resulting in a system crash. However a reboot will generally fix anything stopped here.
Advanced+: Under the [Performance] tab at the bottom is a link to “Open Resource Monitor” (circled in top screenshot) which is much like that Task manager but with much more detail in certain areas. Feel free to explore.
Next time your computer is feeling slow or seems to be hung up and you are wondering why? Now you can take a peek and know that the Flash video you have running in the little window is causing havoc with the chat you’re having with your BFF.