Most people know the Windows Task Manager as a lifesaver in an emergency, for example, to terminate crashed programs. But the tool can do a lot more. We show how the program tickles the PC’s energy reserves.

The key combination “Ctrl + Alt + Del– also known as “Clamping handle” – has probably become part of every Windows user’s flesh and blood. If the mouse pointer is stationary and programs stop responding, the shortcut is considered a lifesaver in an emergency. Because the shortcut opens the Windows Task Manager, a system tool with which programs and processes can be terminated if access is otherwise no longer possible.

Here’s how to do this.

Unmask performance brakes

The task manager is also suitable as a control center for Windows during use. This way, users can monitor the performance of their system and disable disruptive background programs that slow down the work pace. Hidden malware and unwanted programs can also be detected in this way.

The program can also be opened with one hand: either with the combination “Ctrl + Shift + Esc“or by right-clicking the taskbar. We’ll explain the useful information behind tabs “Processes”, “Power” and “Automatic start” hide.

Which programs use the most memory?

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much going on in the task manager. In the current Windows version, the window shows only the programs that are running by the user. However, if you click “More details”, the screen suddenly gets bigger.

For example, a long list of background programs opens. When you click on the column label “CPU” or “Random access memory”the entries are sorted according to resource consumption. This way you can see at a glance which programs are currently consuming a lot of power.

The table column “Data carrier” shows how busy the SSD or hard drive is. If many programs want to access data or write storage space at the same time, it can slow down the software. The percentage value listed in the column heading increases with the load on the hard disk.

How to get even more information

By right-clicking the column title, users can add additional source categories or remove them from the list.

For example, information about power consumption or the use of the graphics processor (GPU). The latter becomes especially important if you want to watch videos. Some video formats require more processing power than others and put a strain on the CPU. This can lead to intermittent playback.

With the task manager, users can find out why. For example, if the graphics card is found to be barely active while the CPU is struggling, there may be something wrong with the player settings.

Monitor performance in real time

About the rider “Power” users can see the computer working in real time. The use of the different sources is shown here graphically over time. By right-clicking on the CPU image, the user can also see the usage of the individual processor cores (“Logical processors“) Screen.

The current CPU frequency, i.e. the computation speed, is displayed below the image. The value is given in gigahertz (GHz). When the load is low, the values ​​are between 0.6 and 1.5 GHz. Under stress, a modern processor can go above the base speed, which is displayed in the task manager as a fixed comparison value.

Is there enough space in RAM?

Also the Memory usage can be displayed graphically. According to the trade journal c’t, a high level is not critical. Only when the amount of available memory falls below 250 megabytes (MB) does this have a negative effect on the work rate. In that case, the user must close programs that use a lot of memory. If the problem persists, only extra memory will help. A desktop PC can be upgraded relatively easily with additional RAM. With a notebook, only a new purchase often helps.

You can find out how much RAM a computer needs here.

Clean up autostart

The computer is often still relatively fast after reinstalling the operating system. But the more applications that are installed, the slower it gets. This is also because many applications nestle in the Windows autostart list during installation and then start automatically every time the system is started. In the task manager you will find the troublemakers under the tab “Automatic start‘Throw it away again. Instructions can also be found here.

Another trick is in the details

Under the tab “Details” users can prioritize individual applications. This means that Windows will make more resources available for this program than usual in the future. This means that frequently used programs such as the browser start faster. In return, you should lower the priority of background programs that are used less frequently to offset the workload.

If you enter the cryptic names of the processes in the “Details” annoy, a detour helps: first select the program you want to prioritize on the tab “Processes” right click on it and select the option “Switch to details” from.

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