Although we’ve mainly had our eyes set firmly on your hard drive in this fea­ture, your ap­pli­ca­tions don’t just take up space there. Cer­tain pro­grams can have a dis­as­trous neg­a­tive ef­fect on the over­all run­ning of your sys­tem, and might even be run­ning on your sys­tem with­out your knowl­edge. Task Man­ager can do a pretty good job of show­ing you what’s go­ing on; hit Ctr­lShift-Esc to open it, then “More De­tails” to see a cat­e­go­rized list. Right-click the col­umn head­ers, se­lect “Type,” then click it to sort the apps in the list, and have a look through to see what’s run­ning. Keep an eye out for things that hog your CPU, mem­ory, and disk ac­cess, and look at the “Per­for­mance” tab for a graph of the us­age of th­ese el­e­ments over time. The “De­tails” tab can of­fer a bit more in­sight into ex­actly what ev­ery­thing in the “Pro­cesses” tab is ac­tu­ally sup­posed to do. Do a full re­boot of your sys­tem, reopen Task Man­ager, and have a good look at what’s run­ning for any­thing you wouldn’t ex­pect to be there had you not opened it your­self. In all like­li­hood, it’s there be­cause of some au­torun­ning ap­pli­ca­tion, so head to the “Start-up” tab, and dis­able any items you don’t feel you need. This can of­ten make pro­grams load a lit­tle slower— they have to load th­ese com­po­nents at run time, in­stead of them be­ing ready when you boot your PC, but they can al­ways be en­abled again at a later time if you no­tice a prob­lem.

Spy­ing on run­ning soft­ware can get rather ad­dic­tive, and it’s fully pos­si­ble to delve even deeper than the Task Man­ager al­lows. Try Process Ex­plorer ( https:// tech­net.mi­ en-us/sys­in­ter­nals/ pro­ces­s­ex­plorer.aspx), one of the Mi­crosoft Sys­in­ter­nals tools, to see what’s hap­pen­ing on your sys­tem in ridicu­lous de­tail.

Task Man­ager ver­sus Process Ex­plorer—if you want in­for­ma­tion, you want the lat­ter.

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