There's More to Task Manager Than Meet The Eye

There’s More to Task Manager Than Meet The Eye

If you spend allot of time with Windows 2000, you’re probably wondering what more there could possibly be to the Task Manager that you haven’t already discovered. Well, it’s possible you may have stumbled onto this the same way we did, but then again, maybe not.

Task Manager, that loyal little application that’s always available when you press Ctrl-Alt-Delete. If you’re like most, you’ve probably used Task Manager more times than you can count to stop some misbehaving application. The question is though, have you ever dug into Task Manager to see what else can be done with this tool?

Here’s something that you might find useful. In the Processes view (middle tab) of Task Manager, you’ll see a list of all the processes running on your system, consisting of the name, process ID (PID), CPU utilization, total CPU time, and memory usage. While all of this information is useful, there is so much more available.

Click the View menu, and choose Select Columns. Now you’ll see a whole host of other values that you can add to your Task Manager view. Would you like to find out whether one of your applications is occasionally using too much of your physical memory? Just add the “Peak Mem Usage” value to your display, and see which application is the memory hog. Now, if you want to see how much virtual memory a program is using, in addition to physical memory, just add the Virtual Memory Size counter to your view.

We tested this recently while doing email and other tasks in Outlook 2000. Since quite a few of our technical support machines also act as test-beds, it’s not uncommon to have 100-200 email items in the mailbox at any given moment. When we viewed this in Task Manager, it appeared as though Outlook was using about 5MB of memory. When we started playing with our new found toy and began adding views, we found out that at one point Outlook has used about 11MB of memory just a half-hour before.

Oddly enough, we noticed that Outlook’s page faults were rising, indicative of the fact that while Outlook was open, parts of the application wasn’t in memory, which required Windows to access the disk to get it. As you can probably guess, this type of information is extremely useful for finding applications that have memory leaks that continue to consume more and more memory until there are no more resources are left on the system and a crash occurs.

There’s more to tell about Task Manager, but we’re going to let you find out about this on your own!

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