Windows Server Troubleshooting - Task Manager

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The Best Troubleshooting Tool

New Windows users often overlook the important troubleshooting capabilities of Task Manager. This is the most important tool to use first in troubleshooting problems. The Performance tabs gives an immediate view of the most important system usage statistics. In many cases, this instantly identifies a problem.

Task Manager is like System Monitor Lite. It only graphs a few counters, but the Process dialog gives you extensive process statistics so you can instantly find resource hogs. It is quickly launched quickly by right-clicking the task bar.

The Page File Usage graph shows the total memory commit charge. If this exceeds the total physical memory, paging will occur and cause significant system degradation.  The Commit Charge Limit is the total physical memory plus the page file size. As memory usage approaches the Commit Charge Limit, Windows produces warning messages that memory is in short supply. If memory usage hits the limit, Windows will increase the limit by increasing the size of the page file until it reaches its maximum size. Add additional physical memory to avoid committing more than the total physical memory.

Select the Applications tab to identify and terminate programs that are not responding.


To determine the specific process that is causing a problem, select the Processes tab and click on a heading title to sort the processes based on CPU or memory usage.

Pull down the View menu to select additional columns of data to display for each process.

Keyboard Exercise

Right click on the task bar and start Task Manager. With the Performance tab selected, pull down the View menu and select the option Show Kernel Times. Drag the windows around the screen and observe how the green graph now contains a red component that represents kernel mode activity.