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My XP machine has become terribly slow and I want to identify the application at fault. Whatever is happening uses so much 'resource' (the current suspect is disk I/O) it makes my machine unresponsive and like I say, it seems to be related to disk access rather than processor hogging. I can look at the task manager to get a good idea but it's not ideal. I was wondering if there was some application that can monitor all aspects of processes effectively. Is Process Explorer my only hope?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Actually there are some other tools in the sysinternals suite that I think you'll find helpful. Procmon.exe is a tool that captures all disk/process/network activity. What I would recommend to identify the process using the majority of disk I/O time is to open up procmon.exe and only turn on file system monitoring. Run the capture while you are noticing the performance degradation. You will see a ton of entries logged, although you will probably see a lot more entries for a specific process than any other process. The process with the majority of the disk activity is probably the culprit. You should be able to easily identify what it belongs to by double clicking on the process and selecting the process tab, and looking at the path and software publisher.

This should tell you what is using alot of disk I/O. To discern why requires more in depth detective work, but hopefully this is a start for you.

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Have a look at Process Explorer located This will give you all the process's as well as I/O and Memory spikes.

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You can see IO read and writes with XP/Vista's task manager you just have to enable their columns under the View menu. This combined with CPU usage and CPU time should give you a rough idea whats taking up system time. However, if its a service blob like svchost you'll need Process Explorer to see whats taking it up.

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I imagine you'll want to look into Reliability and Performance Monitor.

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It's not available on XP, only Vista. – ThatGraemeGuy Jun 3 '09 at 17:58
Oh, right, he said XP. Never mind, then... – chaos Jun 3 '09 at 19:15

Use perfmon, add objects from the Process group for each of the suspect apps for cpu, disk reads/writes; don't sample every second, instead sample every 10 - 30 seconds or so.

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