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I am testing a variety of tech on my PC before deploying it and i notice sometimes my computer gets really slow sometimes and i am unsure why.

I am running windows XP professional edition SP2, i looked at the task manager and i know the CPU and Ram usage is BS (on my home comp i have norton and it reports differently). What app can i use to detect which tech is preforming more poor then others?


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Why do you think the CPU and Ram usage Task Manager is reporting is BS? – Jimmie R. Houts May 5 '09 at 0:41
norton reports it differently – acidzombie24 May 5 '09 at 0:55
Just because Norton reports different numbers doesn't mean that one of them is BS. They may be measuring different values. Virtual memory systems on a modern operating system like Windows XP is a seriously complex topic, and it's actually hard to come up with a single number for a seemingly simple concept like "amount of memory in use". Perhaps you might try to find out what the values reported by Task Manager and Norton actually are and what they mean. – Greg Hewgill May 5 '09 at 1:10
sorry, but i agree you need to be more specific. is this hardware technology, software. IF hardware what sort, if software what sort. – Toby Mills May 5 '09 at 11:46

With a question this broad, it is difficult to point you to the best tools for the job.

That being said, you can use Process Monitor from the Sysinternals tools to get a more detailed look at what resources the different processes in your system are using.

+1 for Sysinternals. Everything on there is worth checking out. – Chris Porter May 5 '09 at 2:57

i've to generic suggestions here. One is that rememeber with the task manager you can add other columns to see things like hard drive read/writes which can help to suss out if a program is hogging the HD. This at times has really helped me debug.

also if you are testing a lot of hardware then consider creating a clone of your basic installation (including office and other 'necessary' software) and then when your machine is chockablock just over write with a clone.

finally if you are testing a lot of software then consider a virtual machine to run it inside. if you like the software after testing then you can install it on your main machine. if not then you can zap the virtual machine.


The first thing I do when I use Task Manager is turn on "Show Kernel Times." Very often you will find that the kernel is a big user of CPU cycles. So, while all running applications are only using say 30% together, the kernel may be using 10% or even 50%.

When you see that, you can use Process Monitor (as someone else pointed out) to see which kernel modules are using the CPU. Vista and Win7 also have an option in Task Manager to see which service is using the CPU (right-click, Go To Services).

As far as monitoring it, I recommend Rainmeter. It's a skinnable application that supports a lot of monitoring information, including CPU and memory. There are a lot of skins available at


Check out the "pushing limits" series by Mark Russinovich. It is kind of hard for non-programmers to wrap their minds around at times but reading it two or three times should clear things up on how Windows uses memory resources. I believe the first in the series starts here. The fourth and most recent I know of is here.


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