Alternative to Windows XP Task Manager: Process Explorer

Windows XP Task Manager is a very good utility but it does not do the job completely. It can be used to view running processes and to start or stop processes, but you cannot use it find any detailed information about the process. Also most viruses and malware these are written keeping the Task Manager in mind, so either they don't show up in the process list or they have names very similar to windows process and there is no way for you to know.

So this is where Process Explorer comes in. This free app is offered by Sysinternals, a Microsoft a acquired company which develops debugging software.

Process Explorer has a very simple interface, left column displays processes in tree hierarchy and the right column displays the real-time details of each process. The tree hierarchy shows you which process launched which other processes e.g. most programs which open in a window are shown under "explorer.exe" i.e. Windows Explorer.

The main window uses color coding for you to identify changes in status of processes. Recently launched objects appear in green. Stopped processes appear in red. Services appear in pink. Processes launched by your account appear in light purple. DLLs and .NET processes appear in yellow.

Now coming to Process Explorer's unique features. Double clicking on a process opens up a window with eight or so tabs. These include

Image tab which tells you about the disk location and command line switches with which the file was executed.
Performance tab gives detailed figures of the process's CPU usage, virtual and physical memory, IO's and handles.
Performance Graph tab shows graph of CPU usage, memory and IO read/writes of each process.
TCP/IP tab shows remote connections opened by the process, along with the remote and local IP addresses.
Security tab shows shutdown, auditing etc permissions for each user group in detail.
Services tab shows all the services initiated by the process along with paths.

There,s an option in the menu to replace Task Manager by Process Explorer. This automatically replaces and backs up the Task Manager. Now if you press Ctrl+Alt+Del you'll be launching Process Explorer. Reverting back to Task Manager is as easy, just select the "Restore Task Manager"option from the menu and the Task Manager is back.

Process Explorer when minimized sits in your tray displaying the CPU graph in a neat little box. Hovering on the box shows current CPU usage percentage and the usage percentage of the process which is using the most CPU resources. This is a very handy feature. While you're working and something begins to hog the system, you won't have to open up Task Manager to see which process is sucking up resources.

So I'll end this by saying that this is another good app which helps you get there faster and certainly with less fuss. Try it out and tell me how do you like it.

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