Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Using Task Manager – Windows 7 Style

An Overview and Tutorial on the Windows Task Manager

There are several ways that you can access the Task Manager in Windows, and that’s still true in Windows 7. One method is to right-click on a blank section of the Taskbar, and select Task Manager from the context menu. Or you can press Ctrl+Shift+Esc. Or you can click the Start button, type “taskmgr” (no quotes) into the Search box, and press Enter. Or you can press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, (the good old “three-fingered salute”) you’ll see a full screen menu and can click Start Task Manager.

The “tabs”: the 6 tabs in Task Manager are Applications, Processes, Services, Performance, Networking, and Users.

Applications tab operates exactly the same as it does in XP and Vista. It allows you to determine the status of a task (you might see a program “not responding”) as well as end, switch, or create a new task. The former is the use for Task Manager that most people are familiar with: when you have a “frozen” (aka “not responding”) program, you click on it in, and then click the End Task button, which hopefully closes it down. (If it doesn’t, reboot.) But there is more to Task Manager than just this use! And these are found on the other tabs.

Processes tab provides you with very detailed information about the programs and Services (aka “processes”) currently running on your system, which is useful to experienced users (and techs) for troubleshooting.
* The “Image Name” column identifies the executable file. (Note: this is not always a “user friendly” name, and when you see these weird-looking spellings, Google is your friend. Do not assume that if you don’t understand it, it must be bad: wuauclt.exe is your friend, for one example, even if it is weird-looking [it’s Windows Update].)
* The “Description” column identifies each process in a more “user friendly” way. Don’t panic if a process’s description is blank; some basic Windows Services and “background” functions are generic and/or not described.
* The “CPU” and “Memory” columns tell you how much resources a process is using. A really high CPU number, or staying at 100%, can be an indicator of a problem.

Now for the fun: right – click.

ProcTab

Useful information about a process can be accessed by right-clicking on it and selecting the “Open File Location” or “Properties” options – when you select the Open File Location, Windows Explorer opens the folder containing the file; and selecting Properties, opens the file’s standard Properties dialog box.

The “Set Affinity ability is useful for getting old programs to run properly on the new multi-core PC’s. See Multicore Computers and Old Programs* for more on that topic.

Services tab provides you with a convenient way to quickly view the Services that are running while you’re troubleshooting. Right-clicking allows you to Stop the Service.

Performance tab (my fave) If you’re coming to Win7 from XP, this is where you’ll find the biggest changes to Task Manager. This window shows you actual system load, and ‘plots’ it over time. But I want a more detailed look, usually, so I go straight to the Resource Monitor button (Resource Monitor is a whole ‘nother article..).

Networking tab is essentially the same as in Windows XP. On the Networking tab you can view network status and see how your network is functioning.

Users tab is also essentially the same as in Windows XP. You can see who is logged on to the system, and Users can be disconnected or logged off.

In review; with Windows Task Manager is the “troubleshooting” tool for identifying and examining what is running on your computer; looking for ‘problem’ applications (and if necessary, force them to close with “End Task”) and Services; monitor how your processor and RAM is being used; and access system-level process settings.

Please allow me to remind you of my general advice for beginners: If you do not KNOW, do not touch… or, I should say, “don’t touch until you’ve researched it thoroughly.” You can really mess up your computer (as in “render useless”) by changing settings you don’t fully understand. Remember, too, there’s no shame in seeking the council of a professional… such as myself!

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Entries must be received before midnight (Pacific) tonight (Thurs. May 27th) so act now!

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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June 10, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, tech, Windows, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Compatibility Tricks for Old Programs, New Machines

How To Get Old Programs To Work On New Computers

So you went out and bought a new computer — congratulations! You got a good one, too: it has everything, including a dual-core processor. You have installed your favorite programs, and by that, I mean your games — great!

There’s just one catch — now some of your games misbehave and act like they’re in hyperdrive, everything moves at warp speed, and instead of three bloodthirsty hobgoblins, there’s thirty. You’re getting killed faster than you can press your “S” key… and that isn’t any fun! Or worse, the game will just freeze in mid-play.

I first noticed this on Battlefield 1942 (the whole series, actually). And then I noticed it on Call of Duty, but not so much on Call of Duty 2. And it was really bad on Quake. It became clear to me that the older the game, the more susceptible to this unplayability it was.

If this has happened to you, the odds are good you have a dual, triple, or quad core CPU. These processors weren’t available when these programs were written, and so the programmers didn’t factor in their ability to process multiple “threads” — basically what’s happening is these new processors are making two (or four) ‘events’ occur at the same time, where they are meant to happen one at a time.

But don’t worry… you need not say goodbye to your favorite games!

Tip of the day: Getting older programs to run smoothly on a new machine is just a couple of clicks away. Some of your programs are going to require you to “turn off” one of the ‘cores’ before it will run right.
To do this, launch the program and let it load (but don’t start using/playing it yet).
Now launch the Windows Task Manager by doing the “three fingered salute”, combination-press the Ctrl+Alt+Del keys (or Start >Run and enter “taskmgr” no quotes).
Click on (select) the Processes tab. tm.jpg

This shows a list of all the running processes on your machine, and how much RAM and CPU cycles are being used by each process. I have launched Battlefield 1942, which shows as the top (most recent) process.
* Right-click on the app that you want to adjust, in our case “BF 1942.exe”.

For some reason, the program-to-processor linkage is called “Affinity“, so from the menu of choices that appear due to our right-clicking, we want to click on (select) “Set Affinity”.
If you have a dual-core CPU, two CPU’s will be shown and checked, A quad-core, four.. We want to uncheck all but one… as shown below.

affin.jpg

With luck, now your program will run like it should. Unfortunately, you must do this each time you want to launch your game/program. Sometimes, the game manufacturer’s will issue a “patch” that will mitigate this issue. Visit their website and look for downloadable “patches” and/or “updates”.

For really old programs and games, you may need to set them to run in something called “compatibility mode“. Mostly these will be items you have left over from your Windows 98 (or Me) days… but if you’re running Vista, you may need to do this for programs that ran fine on XP. Right-click on the program’s shortcut (desktop) icon and select (click) Properties. Now click on the Compatibility tab, as shown below.
compat_mode

Use the drop-down arrow to select the operating system you would like the program to run in as if it were installed. Here I am telling a Vista machine to run a XP environment, but you may need to set it to “Windows 98”. A little experimentation will determine your best choice.

See also, Windows 7 – Old Games Won’t Play.. Help! (Updated) for more help.

Today’s free download: There’s a small app called Prio that allows you to “Save” priority and affinity, so you won’t have to set them at each launch.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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<a href=”https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/windows-7-old-games-wont-play-help-updated/&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Windows 7 – Old Games Won’t Play.. Help! (Updated)</a>

June 28, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, dual-core processors, Gaming, how to, PC, performance, tech, tweaks, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments