As an end user, you never really know what your computer can do until you break something and it stops doing those things it’s done so well. You may not break it in the literal sense but it’s only when something goes wrong that most of us try to dig a little deeper, to see what the problem might be. One of the very basic tools at our disposal for diagnosing a Windows PC is the Task Manager. If you’ve used it even a few times, you’ll know what information you get from some of those tabs but you may be clueless regarding some of the other tabs so here’s a brief overview of each one.
This tab shows all current applications that are running. The applications are those that the current user is running so even if other users are logged into the system, any applications they might have running will not be listed here. Each application appears under its own name and you will easily recognize it. The running status of each application is given and it can be either Running or Not Responding.
If an application is Running then all is well. If it is Not Responding then you can select it and click End Process which will terminate the application.
All process that are currently running are listed here. This list is going to be long because a single application may be running several processes and the system itself runs them when needed. An example of an application running multiple processes is Chrome. If you have several tabs open in a Chrome window, you will see several Chrome processes in this tab.
For each process, you can see the CPU and memory consumption. The more CPU and memory a process consumes the ‘heavier’ it is. If your system has come to a near stop or is lagging a lot, you should look for which process is consuming too much memory or taxing the system’s processing power. You can quit a process but if you do, you should know exactly what the process does. If you end up quitting a vital Windows process, your system may crash.
Services can be started by Windows or they can be started by other applications or even drivers. The Services tab lists which services are currently running and what their function and status is. The status of a service is either running or stopped. Services can be stopped manually by a user but they are critical to the operating system and unless you know what a service is doing, you shouldn’t stop it.
This tab is like a health report for your system. It shows how much of your computer’s processing power (CPU Usage) is being used and how much memory is being used. If either of these are too high, your system will slow down or begin to lag. The tab can be used to determine whether the memory or the processing power of the system is being over-taxed.
This tab shows which networks your computer is connected to and the traffic flowing through those networks. Networks may be LAN, WAN, WiFi, or even Bluetooth connections. You can view how much bandwidth is in use over a particular network and the information can help diagnose a slow connection.
All active users currently logged into the system are listed here. You can disconnect, log off, or send a message to one of the users, provided you have permission to do so.
Running Windows 8? You can read about the Windows 8 task manager in detail here.