Windows Vista Task Manager

Press Ctrl-Shift-Esc. A window opens and presents you with six tabs. As most Windows administrators already know, you’ve just opened the Windows Task Manager, which presents a graphical display of open programs, processes, and services that are currently running on your computer. It’s been available for many years on various Windows operating systems, and has now been updated with a few new features for the release of Vista.



The Applications tab
The Applications tab is one of the simpler tabs visually; it displays a list of any open applications in alphabetical order, and it includes a Status column to indicate whether the application is running or, worse, not responding.

The following three buttons appear at the bottom of the Applications tab:

End Task. This is the most commonly used command on the Applications tab, and it’s used for just what the button name suggests.

Switch To. This button can act as the equivalent of Windows Flip or Windows Flip 3D.
Simply select the application in the program list and click the Switch To button.
The selected app becomes active.

New Task. This lets you launch a new application using a dialog box called, appropriately, Create New Task, which looks and behaves exactly like the Run dialog box.

Recovering a frozen application. One of the main reasons you’d visit the Applications tab during the course of troubleshooting is to close an application that has stopped responding. The click-steps are minimal, and they have not really changed in this iteration of the Task Manager.

Here’s what to do:

1. Open the Task Manager. Either use the keyboard shortcut introduced previously
(Ctrl-Shift-Esc), or right-click the taskbar and choose Task Manager from the context menu.

2. Choose the Applications tab. The Applications tab is the default, but note that the Task Manager always opens with the previously selected tab.

3. Select the program with a Status of Not Responding, and then click the End Task button.

Note that you usually will not get any kind of confirmation before the application closes when you’re using this technique. Also, it’s usually a good idea to give the frozen application a minute or two to try to resolve the issue on its own, because closing a program in this way will cause any unsaved changes to be lost.

Troubleshooting a frozen application. OK, you know how to close an application that’s frozen, but wouldn’t it be even better if the Task Manager could help you figure out why the application froze in the first place?

Guess what: it’s time to point out one of the new features of Vista’s Task Manager.
You now have the ability to create a dump file for a specific application that’s frozen. You can then use this dump information in a debugging application to determine the root cause of the problem. To create a dump file for a frozen app, just right-click it from the Applications tab and select Create Dump File from the context menu. When the procedure completes.

This will help you retrieve the dump file for later parsing in the debugging app of your choosing. Naturally, interpreting debugging files is something of an art unto itself, and it requires a good understanding of the various operating system mechanisms that govern how data is used and executed. You can find more information on how to use Windows debugging tools at: http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/devtools/debugging/debugstart.mspx



The Processes tab
One of the improvements on the Processes tab is the ability to access the properties of a particular process. To do so, just right-click the process and choose Properties from the context menu. The nice thing about accessing properties for a process is that you can set specific compatibility options for an application’s process. Try this if you can’t get a program to run as well as you’d like.

Setting processor affinity. Another helpful task that you can perform from the Processes tab is setting processor affinity for a particular process. Setting processor affinity should not be a task you perform regularly, but it can be especially helpful in optimizing performance in Vista systems that are running either two processors or single processors with a dual core (Intel’s Core 2 Duo, for instance).

To set processor affinity, right-click the process on the Processes tab and choose Set Processor Affinity from the context menu.

Troubleshooting excessive CPU usage. One of the biggest benefits of the Processes tab is the ability to see how much processing horsepower a particular process is using. Obviously, a process that is taking between 50 and 100 percent of the processing cycles is most likely going to cause problems for anything else running on the system.

Vista tries its best to manage processing time so that all apps and background processes get their instructions processed, but often you’ll notice an app hogging more than its share.

Sometimes it’s easy to tell where the problem lies—the application’s process is taking up a lot of time; killing the process fixes the problem. But at other times, the problem is with related processes such as svchost.exe. Services such as these can sometimes be responsible for hosting multiple child processes, and killing the svchost.exe process can cause a lot of cascading problems.

In this case, two different tools can help. One, of course, is the Task Manager. The other is the Tasklist command, which you can run from the Command Prompt. With these two tools in hand, Vista administrators can quickly pinpoint the problem and correct it.



The Services tab
Similar to the Processes tab, the Services tab lists all services currently running on the computer and lets you sort them according to column headings. You can use the Status column to quickly locate a service that is not running. The Services button on the bottom launches the Services MMC console, which is the same as launching services.msc from the Start menu.



The Performance tab
The Performance tab provides a quick peek into Vista system performance, listing several critical performance parameters and a graph of CPU and processor usage. As Here are a few things to look for:

A flat memory graph. A flat Physical Memory Usage History graph means that open applications aren’t continuously asking for more system memory, also known as a memory leak. A graph that looks like a ramp will lead to poor performance as other applications fight for remaining memory.

The amount of free physical memory As the value approaches zero, memory is running low. You might want to close an application or two, especially one that’s using large amounts of memory.

The physical memory cached. If the value is less than half of the total available memory, Vista is having trouble storing recently used information in memory. Again, the solution here is to close applications you aren’t actively using. Vista gives up some of the system cache when it needs RAM, so closing the programs should alleviate this problem by reducing the demand for RAM.



The Networking tab
The Networking tab provides another graphical representation of performance, this time on the network adapters on your system. On a desktop computer, you might see only one adapter. On a laptop, three (or more) network connections may be displayed: a local area connection, a wireless network connection, and a Bluetooth network connection. The information here will help administrators determine whether a networking connection is being stressed. Such a circumstance would be very rare, and you could address it by disabling the network connection before determining the root cause (i.e., what’s sending all that traffic).



The Users tab
The Users tab is not new to Windows Vista, and it’s used for the same purposes as it was in Windows XP. With the Users tab, administrators can see who is currently logged on or otherwise connected to the Vista machine, and can force such users to either disconnect or log off. You can also send messages to the other users displayed on this tab. It’s often a good idea to send a message to a user before forcibly disconnecting him. This allows the user to close any open work in an orderly fashion rather than risk losing data when the connection is abruptly terminated.

Source of Information : OReilly Windows Vista Administration The Definitive Guide

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