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 Applications tab lists the applications currently running on your computer. A single application can actually consist of multiple running processes, and many programs running in the background are not listed (you can see icons for some of these programs in the system tray).
Note: On Windows 98 and Windows Me, Ctrl+Alt+Del opens the Program Manager, which you can only use to close applications. However, you can download one of the many task manager utilities from the internet.
The Processes tab shows a comprehensive list of all processes currently running on your computer. This can be very useful for monitoring your system. The Process tab displays information about the processor usage and memory usage of each process. The problem is how to identify a process. Below is a list of some of the processes you may see in Task Manager’s process list.
“System Idle Process” “System” Windows System Process “SMSS.EXE” Session Manager Subsystem “CSRSS.EXE” Client Server Runtime Subsystem “WinLOGON.EXE” Windows Logon Process “SERVICES.EXE” Services Control Manager “LSASS.EXE ” Local Security authentication server service svchost.exe Service host spoolsv.exe Print spooler service explorer.exe Windows Explorer TASKMGR.EXE Task manager regsvc.exe Remote registry service
“System Idle Process” is basically another name for the time when Windows isn’t doing anything. There are hundreds of thousands of processes running on a computer, so you will definitely find many other process names not listed above. For a list of known processes, see www.answersthatwork.com/Tasklist_pages/tasklist.htm. You can also learn about almost any task by using its name as a search term in Google.
Task Manager can also be used to optimize your system when it is running slowly. The Performance tab shows running graphs of your computer’s CPU and memory usage. If CPU usage seems to be above 80 percent most of the time, or memory usage seems to be higher than total physical memory, you may want to shut down some applications or processes.
The Process tab allows you to identify processes that are consuming a lot of processor time. Double-click the CPU column heading to sort the CPU column so that the processes using the most CPU time are at the top. You can sort the Storage Usage column in the same way.
If you right-click an application’s name on the Application tab and select Go To Process from the resulting pop-up menu, Task Manager opens the Processes tab and highlights the process that is running the application executes If you right-click a process name on the Processes tab, you can select SetPriority and boost the priority of the process you need (or knock down the priority of another process to free up some resources).
If you switch to the Application tab and exit an application, all processes associated with that application will be terminated. However, you can choose to shut down a background process that you can identify. To end an application or process, click its name in the list to highlight it and then click the End Task button.
In the Processes tab, if you right-click a process’s name, you can select End Process Tree to kill the process and any sub-processes it has started.
Task Manager can also be used for troubleshooting. If an application freezes, you can open Task Manager and kill the application. If the entire system freezes, you can use Task Manager to shut down a process that is consuming all CPU time or memory.
If you spend some time monitoring your computer with Task Manager, you will eventually get acquainted with the processes that are running frequently. Then, if you see an unknown process, you can run a small scan to make sure it’s not a virus. For example, if you see msblast.exe in the process list, your computer is infected with Blaster virus. You may be able to detect and remove a new virus before an antivirus update is available.
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