Task Manager & Resource Monitor - finding blockages

At one time or another many of us have been, and will be, frustrated by our machine NOT behaving the way we'd like and the way it "used to".

An unresponsive or slow PC is often the victim of something uses all of its resources.

So I'll give you a quick run through of how to see if tht's what is happening and what's causing it.

I'll be using the two built in windows tools; Task Manager and Resource Monitor.

You can start the Task manager by right clicking on the Task bar at the bottom of your screen, and selecting Task Manager from the list...

There are other ways but you can Google them.

It looks like this...

In this image I have selected the Performance tab.

Even though I am writing this article on this machine, the activity shown is minimal. This is what I'd expect.

To open the Resource Monitor you can clcik on the indicated link on the Task Manager. Again, other ways exist, look them up if you fancy.

It looks a bit like the Task Manager but it allows for more in depth investigation of just what is happening in those graphs.

What you will see when your machine is going slow, or misbehaving, is that one of these graphs will be maxing out and staying at 100%.

Your computer works by moving data around all these resources so if one is stuck at 100% that means there's a bottleneck or a problemmatic program hogging all that resource.

In the Resource Monitor you can sort the columns of data by clicking on them.

Usually, if it is a hard disk problem, and it often is, I click on the "Total" column to see which program is using the most resources of the hard disk.

See the little downward arrow at the top of the column (circled), that means that column is being used to sort the results and it is sorted biggest to smallest i.e. the most hungry program is shown at the top.

Because I am editing this blog post in Chrome you can see that it is at the top of the list.

You can do a similar thing in Task Manager...

In the above screen shot I have expanded the details of processes Google Chrome has running and right-clicked on them to see what I can do with them.

If I had determined that Chrome was the problem I could "End Task" and it would be killed off.

Sometimes this takes more than one go and sometimes it doesn't work. I won't go into why. You just need to be aware.

By looking around these various pieces of information you can fairly easily see which program is misbehaving.

Once you know that you can kill it and uninstall/repair it if you want to.

For the beginner I suggest you DON'T just go around killing tasks unless you are desperate.

This will result in data loss and potentially worse.

If you see a program misbehaving, the safest course is to uninstall and then see if your problems have gone away.

As I have said before, only ever change 1 thing at a time.

Changing multiple things only leaves you wondering which one fixed the problem, if they did at all, and which things you need to put back.

If your computer is just slow, with no program showing as being the culprit, then you may need to think about whether you have a RAM or HARD DISK problem.

Maybe you need more RAM, maybe you need a faster HARD DISK.

They aren't all made the same and a slow hard disk, particularly common on laptops, are frequently the problem...sometimes even from new.

Often upgrading to a Solid State Drive (hard drive) will be enough to give your machine amazing new performance. But it isn't necessarilly easy or cheap AND many new PCs these days already have SSDs, so that may not help.

A frustrating aspect to this can be that sometime machines are just so "stuffed" that getting the Task Manager and the Resource Monitor to start up can be impossible or very, very slow.

If your machine is already bogged down by a program, then adding 2 more programs to its load isn't going to help.

Have fun ferreting around and good luck.

Remember, when in doubt...just don't.


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