The Windows Task Manager can provide information on CPU utility, memory usage, disk access, and more. In this video, you’ll learn how to use the Task Manager to troubleshoot Windows in real-time.
Many times, when troubleshooting, you need to get detailed information about exactly what’s happening with the operating system and the hardware of the computer. One of the ways to get instant feedback of this information is to start the utility Task Manager. Task Manager is designed to give you second to second updates on CPU utilization, network usage, memory utilization, disk activity, and much more. To start Task Manager, press Control-Alt-Delete and select Task Manager. You can also right mouse click in the taskbar and choose the Task Manager option, or you can press Control-Shift-Escape and the Task Manager utility will start immediately.
If you’re running Task Manager in Windows 8, 8.1, and Windows 10, you’ll see a number of enhancements over the Task Manager that you’ll run in Windows 7, the Windows 7 version of Task Manager has a tab called Applications. This will list all of the applications that are currently running on your system. From this view, you can choose to stop an application that’s currently running or launch a new application from the file pull down menu.
If you’re running Windows 8, 8.1, or Windows 10. You won’t see an Applications tab. The applications have been combined with the Processes tab in these newer versions of Windows.
The Processes tab shows you all the processes that are running. These are interactive applications, and any applications that are running in your system tray. You can not only see the processes that you’ve started, but you can click the option at the bottom to show processes from all users on this computer.
This is a very customizable screen. You can remove different columns, add different metrics, or move things around on the screen as well. In later versions of Windows 8, 8.1, and Windows 10, all apps, processes, and services are combined together into a single tab, giving you a much more comprehensive view of what’s going on on your computer.
Here’s the Processes tab in Windows 10. I have a list of the applications and the background processes broken out, but I can also sort these columns as well. You can see I’ve got a CPU column memory disk network, and there’s some power usage columns as well. If you click the top of the column, it will sort these processes so that you can easily find out what process is using the most amount of CPU right now, what process is using the most amount of memory right now. And you can view these in different ways depending on what you’re troubleshooting.
The Performance tab gives you a bit of a longer term view of what’s happening on your system, so you can view things like the CPU usage history or the physical memory usage history in this single window. This isn’t designed to replace performance monitor, but it does give you an idea of what’s been happening over the last few minutes. In Windows 8, 8.1, and Windows 10, you not only have this new look. But there are additional metrics you can view in this performance view such as memory, disk utilization, and network utilization. In Windows 7, those networking metrics have their own tap called networking.
In Windows 8, 8.1, and Windows 10, you’ll see all of that in the Performance tab. From the single view, you’re able to view utilization of the network, get an idea of how much the connection speeds are for each individual network connection, and be able to see what the link speeds are for the different interfaces on your computer. This allows you to get a perspective across CPU, memory, disk, and Ethernet of what really has been happening over more than just a single second at a time. And by looking at these many charts, you’re able to get an idea of where trends and changes may be happening with the operating system or the hardware.
In the Users tab of Task Manager in’ Windows 7, you’ve got a list of all of the users that were currently logged into this particular computer and what they were doing in that particular session. From that list of users, you could choose to disconnect to user, lock them off, or send them a message. In Windows 8, 8.1, and Windows 10 this Users tab has much more functionality. You’re able to get detailed process information for each individual user and see exactly the performance statistics for each individual process.
Here’s the Users tab of Task Manager running on my computer. I have Microsoft Edge browser running on the other side of the screen. And if I thought there was a problem with Edge and I needed to close that particular application, I could easily right mouse click on that particular app, choose end task, and the process associated with that browser would be terminated.