Did you know you can see everything your computer is doing at any given second? Open up the Windows Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc. Click on the Processes tab and you'll see a list of every bit of active code.
Unfortunately, most of it will look like gibberish. What the heck is csrss.exe anyway? (It's a critical process that stands for Client/Server Runtime Subsystem if you care to know.) But some of these processes aren't really necessary unless you're actively using the program they're tied to.
Unnecessary processes can slow down your computer, especially on startup. Some of those programs could even be viruses! But how can you tell the difference when all the names are in what seems like a foreign language?
You can start with Process Explorer. It's a free, portable program that gives you a lot more information about each process and your computer's performance than the Task Manager.
When you run Process Explorer, you'll see a list of color-coded processes and corresponding data on CPU usage, associated programs, size and manufacturer. It's a good start to learning what processes are associated with what programs.
The red processes are services. These are meant to run in the background and without requiring user intervention. They usually help perform basic Windows functions. Blue means it's a process you started, such as your browser, calculator or other user programs.
Read the color-code legend for more info about what each color means. Process Explorer is a helpful tool for figuring out what your computer is doing and which processes are occupying its thoughts.
Note: You might find programs taking up time and space that don't really need to run. But as a fair warning, you should never stop a process unless you know what it is.
To download the program, navigate to the Process Explorer by using this link or the blue link button below. Locate and click the blue text link labeled "Download Process Explorer" in the center of the page.
Note: This is a portable program, so some anti-virus software may incorrectly identify it as a virus. Don't worry, it's safe.
Your download should begin immediately. The download is a Zip file, you must extract the files to run the application. Right-click in the file window and select "Extract All" to extract the files.
After the files have been extracted, run the application. Be sure to read the License Agreement before continuing. Remember, you should always read the fine print on everything you download to your computer!
Process Explorer will automatically start up after the application is opened. You can see which programs are running on your computer and kill processes that are slowing down your computer.