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Windows 7 Resource Monitor IconIn earlier versions of Windows, you’d need a third-party solution to help you monitor key subsystems (CPU, RAM etc.) of your computer. With Vista, came the Resource Monitor (Resmon) and with Windows 7 came improvements to the Resource Monitor.

In this guide, we talk more about Windows 7’s Resource Monitor. Previously, Angel Luis showed you how to determine if you need more RAM using Windows 7’s resource monitor. In this guide, we’ll show you what else you can monitor with Resource Monitor and help you interpret the data it gives.

Open Resource Monitor

To open Resource Monitor, either:

Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc and, when Windows Task Manager loads, click Resource Monitor…:

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Click the Start button and click All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Resource Monitor.

View System Information with Resource Monitor

Resource monitor has five tabs:

  1. Overview.
  2. CPU.
  3. Memory.
  4. Disk.
  5. Network.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the information offered on the CPU, Memory, Disk, and Network tabs. The Overview is, surprisingly, an overview of these four tabs.

Resource Monitor CPU Tab

Much like Task Manager, the CPU tab gives detailed information on all processes using the CPU; however, the CPU tab also shows detailed information on the Associated Handles and Associated Modules of a process:

Associated Handles

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Associated Modules

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How do I interpret this data?

The key take home from this tab is to find processes that are using lots of CPU when you are low on CPU (or when CPU usage is abnormally high under idle usage.) Once identified, you can Kill the process (right click) and try opening it again. If the problem persists (and the usage is abnormally high), try reinstalling the software causing the high CPU usage or upgrading the latest (and in some cases a previous, less-bloated) version.

What’s a Handle?

A handle is a pointer to a system element such as a file, event, registry key etc.

What’s a Module?

Modules are programs or files used to support a process (like a .DLL — dynamic link library.)

Resource Monitor Memory Tab

If you’re running at 80%+ memory, you should identify and kill processes that are hogging up your system (running out of memory will slow down your computer a lot because you will start thrashing — storing data from memory on your hard disk to make more room for current processes.)

Here’s what the Memory tab looks like:

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How do I interpret this data?

You should sort the data, by clicking the column heading, to find hard faults (a sign of failing memory) and by Working Set and Private to find the real memory hogs.

What is Working Set Memory?

Working set memory is the amount of physical memory currently being used by a process.

What is Private Memory?

Private memory is the amount of physical memory in use by a process that can’t be shared with other processes; thus, programs using lots of private memory can cause system problems as they require so much of your resources.

What if I see lots of hard faults?

If you see lots of hard faults, you should consider adding more memory as your system is writing current memory to the page file (due to low memory availability.) If you don’t see high memory usage but lots of hard faults, test your memory.

Resource Monitor Disk Tab

The Disk tab shows IO (input/output) activity on your hard disks. If your computer is slowing down, you may find it’s due to too much IO. A program you are using may be slowed down because it is waiting for information to be retrieved from disk (i.e. a photo album application that has to wait for photos to load) or because you are too low on memory and lots of the memory is being paged to your hard disk (see above for more information about memory thrashing.)

Here’s what the disk tab looks like:

Use Resource Monitor to Check Key Subsystems on Your PC 05

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How do I interpret this data?

Check the processes with disk activity and look for processes that stand out on disk reading and writing (i.e. the numbers are really high.) As you can see in the screenshot about, Snagit32.exe is reading and writing more than any other programs. In this case it makes sense because it was writing the screenshot I just took to disk. If, however, something like spambot.exe is reading lots of data, kill the process and run a virus scan!

Resource Monitor Network Tab

The final tab is the Network tab, which shows current network activity on your PC:

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The Network Activity pane shows network connections and how much data is being sent. If you see a process on here that really shouldn’t be sending and receiving data (i.e. if Photoshop was sending data to Adobe servers, kill it and find out why it’s “phoning home” — yes, Adobe have done this before and were sending statistical data to Omniture.)

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You can also see which programs have ports open. Notice the ports opened by Apple services. After investigating them, I found them all to be legitimate (if not a little invasive) connections.

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How do I interpret this data?

Read the explanations above and look for either:

  • Programs with abnormally high network activity.
  • Programs with network activity that really shouldn’t be connecting to anything.

I’d then go to a search engine and find out why these programs are contacting other addresses through your network interface.

Well there you have it: a basic explanation of the goodness that comes from using Resource Monitor. What did I miss? For what purposes do you use Resource Monitor?

About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix them.

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One thought on “Use Resource Monitor to Check Key Subsystems on Your PC [How To]”

  1. Angel says:

    An excellent post

Comments are closed.

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