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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

How to Understand Task Manager’s Performance Tab

Here’s the explanation of the different fields of the Performance Tab in Windows Task Manager:

CPU Usage tells the percentage of time the processor is working on useful tasks. If your computer is running slowly and this graph indicates a high level of usage, find out what process is monopolizing your processor.

CPU Usage History graphs how busy the processor has been over a period of time. You can set the value for the Update Speed on the View menu. Your choices are:

  • High = twice per second
  • Normal = once every two seconds
  • Low = once every four seconds
  • Paused = the display is not automatically updated

PF Usage shows how busy your paging file is. If your computer is running at a consistently high level, you can increase the page file size.

Page File Usage History graphs page file usage over a period of time. You can set the value for the Update Speed on the View menu.

Totals displays the number of handles, threads, and processes running on the computer.

Commit Charge (K) is memory allocated to the operating system and programs. The value listed under Peak may exceed the total amount of RAM on the system because Commit Charge includes memory copied to the paging file (virtual memory). The value for Total will match the Page File Usage History graph.

Physical Memory (K) is the total amount of RAM installed on your computer.

Available is free memory that is available for use.

The System Cache displays RAM used to map pages of open files.

Kernel Memory (K) is the amount of memory used by the operating system kernel and device drivers. Some memory can be copied to the paging file to free physical memory. That is displayed under Paged. The physical memory can then be used by the operating system.

Nonpaged is memory that will not be copied to the paging file and remains resident in RAM.

You can learn a lot more about tuning, troubleshooting, and administering a Windows Server 2003 box in our Windows Server 2003 seminar. We do an entire section on Performance Monitor, plus lots of coverage of other built-in tools.

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