Task Manager

Windows system slow?

Check out Task Manager. It’s an often overlooked tool. If you’re having a resources crisis—your CPU and your system RAM are creaking under the strain and everything has come to a grinding halt—Task Manager is the first port of call.

Open it by pressing Ctrl-Shift+Esc:

Task Manager

If you click on the Processes tab, then click on the top of the Memory column (highlighted in blue above) this will order the column with the highest usage program at the top enabling you to see which programs are using your precious RAM.

If you can’t identify them from the file name or description, search for the names using your favourite search engine. If you discover that it’s an intruder that you don’t want or don’t need, you can disable it with the System Configuration Utility aka msconfig:

In XP:

Start » Run » type msconfig » OK

In Vista or Windows 7:

Click Start » type msconfig » press Enter
or even easier press Windows key + R » type msconfig » OK

An even better tool than the System Configuration Utility—at least more intuitive—is the free Microsoft subsidiary SysInternals’ Autoruns. Read about it and download it here.

Back to Task Manager

If it’s CPU usage that’s causing you grief, in the Processes tab, click on CPU instead of Memory.

If you’re not sure what’s clogging things up click on the Performance tab and you’ll see this:

Task Manager performance tab

If either of those graphs shows a line which is stuck on maximum, something is amiss. Either you’ve started too many programs for your system to cope with or, as described above, you need to stop some automatic startup programs that you don’t need.

If you have trouble starting Task Manager you may have a virus and/or spyware infection. If you’re in doubt about what to do about that, have a look at my malware page by clicking here.

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