Using Your PC’s Resource-Monitoring Tools to Troubleshoot

By Dan Gookin

All your PC’s performance‐ and resource‐monitoring tools provide good feedback, but the details are trivial. Activity always abounds inside a computer. The concern is whether that activity is causing the system to slow down.

Whenever the PC starts acting slowly, pop up the Task Manager and click the Processes tab. Click the CPU column header to sort the list of running programs by processor use. (If necessary, click the header twice so that the programs using the CPU the most appear at the top of the list.) The program using the most CPU time is probably the one slowing your PC.

You can also click the Task Manager’s Performance tab to check on memory and other resources. But to confirm that the single program is consuming too many resources, use the Resource Manager: In the Resource Manager window, choose the suspect program from the list on the Overview tab. Then select all resources.

What you’re looking for is increased consumption of resources over time. In some cases, the program may busy itself for a short span, and then regular activity resumes. When a program continues to consume resources, you might consider terminating it to see whether the PC’s performance improves.

  • If a single program is to blame, consider getting an update for the program.
  • If the program is a background task that gobbles too many resources, consider rescheduling the task for a time when you’re not using the computer.
  • A program that continues to use resources after it quits, especially memory, has a memory leak. You should stop using that program and see whether an update or replacement is available.
  • Some web page plugins may cause problems. These plugins might appear as issues with the web browser program itself, but they’re not. The way to fix this issue is to check the web browser’s settings or preferences and disable the plugin.
  • Malware also consumes resources at a rabid pace. You can attempt to halt the run‐amok program, but it’s best to run a scan and have Windows Defender remove it.