The Relationship Between Your Computer’s Performance and Resources

By Dan Gookin

Performance and resources are related. Resources include processing power, storage, and other hardware capabilities. The amount of performance you squeeze out of a computer directly relates to the resources available. You may not be able to swap out hardware, but you can do what it takes to eke out the best possible—performance from the hardware your PC currently has.

The tools Windows offers to monitor performance and resources are

  • The Performance Monitor
  • The Performance tab in the Task Manager window
  • The Resource Monitor

These tools demonstrate that Microsoft has an uncanny knack of not assigning tools unique and descriptive names. All these utilities do basically the same thing: Present charts and graphs illustrating how resources inside the computer are used. Each has differing degrees of complexity, and some are better suited for specific tasks.

  • Of all the tools, the Performance Monitor is the oldest, introduced for Windows NT back in the 1990s. It’s also the most complex of the trio.
  • The Resource Monitor was introduced with Windows Vista. It’s the most useful of the tools, especially for tracking down issues with specific programs.
  • The Task Manager’s Performance tab once dwelled in the System Configuration Utility (MSCONFIG) window. It’s a bit friendlier than the Performance Monitor—plus, it’s easier to access.
  • Yes, overlap exists between all three tools. You don’t have to use them all.
  • Performance and resources play a role in troubleshooting with regard to software. For example, a bug may cause a program to consume more and more resources over time. Known as a memory leak, it’s easy to spot such a program based on how it’s using resources and how the PC’s performance degrades over time.