Identify wild process in Task Manager?

Dennis Faas's picture

What meaning would my life have if my own mother didn't read this newsletter?

Infopackets Reader 'Mom' (a.k.a. 'Nurse Lynda') writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Thanks for installing Windows XP for me on the weekend. Today, I noticed that my CPU is overly-active and operating continually with 100% usage. I have opened up Task Manager and have attempted to identify the cause, but there were a number of processes that I have not seen before and the [process] table changes too rapidly to tell otherwise. Question: how can I correctly identify and eliminate the process which is causing this abnormal CPU usage? "

My response:

To 'kick' a process that has run amuck, you will need to: Sort Task Manager by process CPU usage (Windows NT / 2000 / XP only), highlight the process in question, and then end the task. To do this:

  1. Bring up Task Manager (press CTRL + ALT + DEL on the keyboard).
  2. Click on Processes Tab (if it hasn't been selected already).
  3. Navigate the mouse to the CPU heading.
  4. Click the CPU heading with your mouse. This will either sort the list ascending or descending. Ideally, you will want to sort in descending order (100 % ~ 0%) to reveal processes which are sucking up your CPU.
  5. Once the trouble process has been identified, left click the process under the heading Image Name, and press DEL on your keyboard (or click "End Process") to release it from your system.

Side note: If you use Windows 95, 98, or ME, Task Manager does not display task memory / CPU usage or allow you to set process priority like Windows NT, 2000, and XP can. For an alternative to Task Manager (on steroids), please see this recent Gazette article.

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