One of the best ways to troubleshoot a computer problem is to use the Windows Task Manager. This helpful tool (included on all Windows PCs) lists all of the processes currently running on your system. If you don’t recognize one process, or if one process is using a mysteriously large amount of your PC’s resources, then you can end the process instantly.
The Windows Task Manager can easily be accessed by holding Ctrl+Alt+Delete, or by right clicking on a blank space on your taskbar.
However, once the Task Manager is open, it can be difficult to know which processes can safely be closed, while which ones are essential to the operation of your PC. Ending an essential process can have serious consequences your PC’s performance, and it’s very important to know what each and every process does before you close it.
How do I know what each PC process does?
You don’t have to be a computer geek to know which each process in your Task Manager does. In fact, most computer geeks probably don’t know what half of their processes do. After all, they’re often listed using strange names with awkward shorthand, like WINWORD.EXE or taskmgr.exe.
To determine if the process can safely be closed, you first need to Google it. Googling the name of the process should bring up a list of results from tech support forums and similar websites that will tell you if the process can be closed without messing up your PC. There are even websites that are specifically designed to tell you what every process does, like ProcessLibrary.com or ProcessQuickLink.
Go down your list of processes, starting with the most resource intensive tasks first. End any processes that look suspicious and double check your suspicions in the two databases listed above. To make this step easier, exit out of all programs before you fire up Windows Task Manager.
By default, Windows 7 only shows processes that the current user is running. This is to protect your safety: most viruses run under your username, so leaving the Task Manager on its default view should work just fine. However, if you do want to see which process are running on the rest of your computer (including your System, Network, and Local Service processes), click on the box that says “Show processes from all users.”
How does this help fix my PC?
Ultimately, your goal is to ‘end’ any malware processes or viruses that are running in the background of your PC. While this is a good way to temporarily protect your computer, it rarely deletes a virus entirely. To do that, you’re going to have to perform a scan with antivirus software. This is why it’s important to remember the name of the suspicious process that you found: by searching Google for how to remove that specific virus, you can connect with other users who have experienced the same problem and follow the steps they used to solve it.
Ultimately, the worst thing that could happen when you end processes in the Windows Task Manager is that you are forced to restart your computer. As it stands, the Task Manager is an easy and effective way to target viruses on your system and cut down on resource-intensive processes in order to both speed up and fix your PC.