Monitoring Resources in Windows 7

Before you start

Objectives: Learn how to use Task Manager and Resource Monitor to see how your system resources are being used.

Prerequisites: you have to know what is system performance in general.

Key terms: performance, Windows 7, Task Manger, Resource Monitor, process

 Task Manager

Task Manager can easily be opened by pressing the CTRL+SHIFT+ESC keys. We can also start it by right-clicking Taskbar and selecting the Start Task Manager option.

1 Task Manager

Task Manager

Task Manager will show us all the processes running for current user. We can click the “Show processes from all users” if we want to see all processes running on the system. We can click on the column name to order the list by that column. We can also set process priority and affinity by right-clicking particular process.

 2 Priority


Note that priority can be: realtime, high, above normal, normal, below normal, and low. The priority controls how the system can delay or switch between processes. With affinity we can select processors (or processor cores) that are allowed to run selected process.

 3 Affinity


On the Processes tab we can also end (kill) a process. We do that by selecting a particular process and then clicking the End Process button.

We can also use Task Manager to start or stop running application. We can do that on the Applications tab. Be aware that not every software program or process will be shown on the Applications tab. Typically, applications that are started by the user, and applications shown on the Taskbar will be shown on the Applications tab.

 4 Applications Tab

Application Tab

 On the Services tab we can see a list of services on our computer, and their status. From here we can also start or stop particular service by right-clicking it. We can also view the process (in the Processes tab) associated with the service.

 5 Services

Services Tab

If we want more control over our services, we should go to the Services console. We can do that by clicking on the Services button from here.

On the Performance tab we can check the performance of our computer.

 6 Performance

Performance Tab

Here we can use the percentage of CPU usage at the moment and also usage history from past few minutes. In our case we have multiple (four) cores, so we see four graphs, one for each core. On this tab we can also see current memory usage and memory usage history for the last few minutes. If the CPU Usage History graph is showing 100 percent, it can mean that some program might not be responding or is over using CPU resources. If the Memory graph is consistently high, it can mean that we have to many applications opened at the same time. As a temporary solution, we can quit some running programs to decrease the demand for RAM. However, the only long-term solution is to add more physical RAM. Also, we could try implementing the ReadyBoost feature.

Below CPU and memory graphs, we can see details about memory and resource usage. In the Physical Memory section we can see the total amount of RAM installed, and also the amount of RAM recently used for system resources (Cached). Here we also see amount of Available and Free memory. In the Kernel Memory section we can see the total amount of memory being used by the core part of Windows called the Kernel. The used virtual memory is shown on the Paged amount, while the Nonpaged amount shows the amount of RAM used by the Kernel. In the System section we can see 5 values related to Handles, Threads, Processes, Up Time, and Page File Handles (Commit). These are all pointers that refer to system elements such as files, directories, registry keys, events, etc.

On the Networking tab we can see network usage. Utilization is listed as a percentage of the total available theoretical bandwidth (such as 100 Mbps for a Fast Ethernet connection).

 7 Network Tab

Networking Tab

On the Users tab we can see logged on users on our computer, and their login method. From here we can Disconnect or Logoff listed users.

 8 Users Tab

Users Tab

If we go back to Performance tab, note that we can run Resource Monitor from here.

Resource Monitor

The Resource Monitor is more enhanced tool for checking out performance and resources on the computer.  We can enter also enter resmon.exe in Search to start the Resource Monitor.

 9 Resource Monitor

Resource Monitor

On the Overview tab we can see performance for our four major system components and resources. Those are CPU, Disk, Network, and Memory. On the CPU section we see a list of processes, their description, status, number of threads, etc. We can click on the particular colmun to sort the list based on that column.

On the Disk section, we can see which processes are using our disks. We can see which process reads or writes which amount of data, and the total usage. We can also see the file that is doing the most amount of reading and writing to.

On the Networking section, we can see the amount of traffic coming and going to our machine and what services or applications are using it.

 10 Networking Section

Network Section

On the Memory section, we can see what applications and services are using the most memory.

 11 Memory Section

Memory Section

Now each mentioned resource also has a separate tab. Each tab allows us to view the processes and certain information about that process. We can filter the results according to the processes or services that we want to monitor. For example, we’ll go to the CPU tab and select the permon.exe process. Note that services, associated handles (registry keys and files), and associated modules (DLLs and executables) are now filtered by perfmon.exe. So, this way we can check all this for specific process.

 12 CPU Filter

Filter Mode

While we are in the filtered mode, only resources that are used by the selected process or service, are displayed on all other tabs. So, if we go to the Memory tab, we will also see the information filtered by the perfmon.exe.

 13 Memory Tab

Memory Tab

The same thing is on the Disk tab. We will see files that the selected process is reading and writing to. On the Network tab we will see the network activity is performed by our selected process  (TCP connections and listening ports).