I wrote about the free program Process Explorer in the my article A Better, and Free, Way to See What’s Running.
This tool is far superior to using the Windows XP built-in Task Manager’s Processes tab (Control-Alt-Delete to bring up Task Manager) to see what’s running.I made a very interesting discovery.
I have 1 GB of memory on my notebook, which has a 1.7 GHz Pentium M processor. Despite my notebook being 20 months old, this processor is still used in current Dell notebook models such as the Inspiron 6000.
Anyway, I normally have somewhere between 5 and 10 different windows open. Sometimes, several of these are multiple windows in the same program, such as multiple Microsoft Word documents. Most of the windows are actually different programs. The processor speed and the 1 GB memory lets me easily do this.
Most of the time. I’ve noticed that sometimes the system slows down a little.
If I’m running an anti-virus system scan or an anti-spyware system scan, the system will slow down. This would be expected, as these programs use 30-35% of my CPU when they are running. Since both of these types of scans are limited by hard drive speed, I notice the most impact if I try to access the hard drive with another program.
My big discovery was about my favorite graphics editor program PhotoImpact. I use PhotoImpact 10 for most of my image editing and resizing. Using Process Explorer, I noticed that PhotoImpact was taking between 15 and 30% of my CPU time, even when it was not the active window and nothing was happening in that program. If I had the program open and an image open in PhotoImpact, it soaked up an unreasonably large amount of my computer’s CPU time — preventing it from using that time on other tasks.
I won’t stop using PhotoImpact because I like its interface. My usual way of using it was to leave the program open in case I needed to use it again. Now, I will open it to do some tasks and then close it promptly when I finish the planned tasks.
Download Process Explorer to learn what your computer is really doing. The information you get will help you stop the right CPU time-wasters.