How to Fix Busy Windows Processes

wintask-iconYou’re waking up one morning, turning on the PC, and you suddenly notice that it took an entire half hour to boot up. The first thing that comes up in your mind is, “It’s a virus!” This is probably not far from the truth, but it could also be that the software you installed last night before you sleep is acting weirdly and take up a ton of resources for no apparent reason. What should you do in this situation?

1. Never Fear, The Task Manager Is Here

If you are the least bit technologically literate, you most likely know how to hunt the culprit via the task manager and shut the bugger down. If you don’t, just press “Ctrl+Shift+Esc” and click the “Processes” tab on the new window that opens. Here, you’ll see the important resources each process uses, whether it be memory or CPU muscle. As you find applications using a lot of your CPU or memory, just zap them by right-clicking them and clicking “End Process.” This is by far the easiest way to get rid of a rogue application. This doesn’t permanently rid you of the problem. Far from it. This might just postpone the problem.

And what if the application is clever enough to stop using your CPU every time you open the task manager? This is usually a sure sign that your computer’s infected. In this situation, the application will use 100% of your CPU, then it will go back to zero when the task manager opens. Once you close the task manager, it just fires up again and you can hear your fans whirring insanely.

2. Open Process Explorer

Sysinternals has a neat little tool that works when the task manager is too dumb to do so. Download Process Explorer to get the job done. You’ll end up with this interface:


Process Explorer helps you find problems that you can’t otherwise spot in Task Manager. It’s pretty self-explanatory and easy to get used to once you’ve used it for a while. Some applications still purposely reduce CPU usage to zero when this is open. So, let’s discuss the mother of all nasty process detectors.

3. Process Monitor Will Sniff Out Anything

Unlike Process Explorer, Process Monitor has a very subtle way of detecting problems from applications. It just lets things run and keeps tabs on them without giving any indication that it’s doing so. This way, you can detect problematic applications in a jiffy. First, you’ll have to download it.

Once you’ve opened it, you might be confused as to what it’s doing.


Just let it run for a few seconds. After you’re done, click “Tools” and then click “Process Activity Summary.” A bunch of graphs will show up telling you how much of each resource each application has been using from the moment you started it. This will let you know who the culprit is. After you’re done, you can go ahead and destroy the program by using task manager and windows explorer. Closing and deleting the program often rids you of the problem, although you can’t do this in every case. You must be prudent in making sure that what you’re deleting isn’t essential to your computer!

Got Some Tools?

If you know of some tools that can more effectively get rid of nasty processes or help you detect them, please leave a comment below!

Miguel Leiva-Gomez
Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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