Software

How to use Task Manager to monitor Windows 10's performance

The Windows 10 Task Manager offers a treasure trove of details. Here's a look at the information you can access on the Performance tab.

hero

Image: iStockphoto.com/Pinkypills


The Windows 10 Performance tab provides data and graphs that show you detailed information on the current activity of the CPU, memory, disks, and your Ethernet/Wi-Fi connections. This information can be useful in understanding how these main hardware components function. In this article, I'll delve into Task Manager's Performance tab and take a close look at the detailed information displayed in each section.

CPU

In the CPU section, shown in Figure A, you'll find all kinds of details about the CPU in your system, including the brand name and model number at the top of the screen. In the lower right, you'll see the CPU's maximum speed, as well as the number of sockets, cores, and logical processors. You can tell at a glance whether the processor's hardware virtualization technology is enabled. You can even find information about the CPU caches.

Figure A

Figure A
The CPU section of the Performance tab provides detailed information about the CPU.

The graph displays the percentage of your CPU's utilization on a scale of 0 to 100 over a 60-second timeframe. By default, the CPU section displays a single graph showing overall utilization. To see a graph for each logical processor, just right-click and select Change Graph To > Logical Processors. If you hover your mouse pointer over each graph, you'll see a tool tip that identifies the CPU by number. The tool tip will even tell you if that particular processor is parked, as shown in Figure B. If a logical processor isn't currently needed to handle the CPU load, Windows will park the CPU to conserve energy. However, once it's needed, Windows will immediately put the CPU back to work.

Figure B

Figure B
You can display a graph for each of the logical processors.

If you want the graph to display kernel time, right-click on it and select Show Kernel Times. The graph will display a second, darker scale that indicates the kernel time, as shown in Figure C. The lighter scale shows the total CPU time. The difference between kernel time and the total CPU time indicates the user time. Without getting too technical, the kernel time indicates code that is directly accessing the computer hardware, whereas the user time indicates code that must use system APIs to access the computer hardware.

Figure C

Figure C
When you select Show Kernel Times, the graph displays information about kernel usage.

The Utilization value below the graph shows the percentage of the CPU that is being used at any one point in time. The Speed value shows the current speed at which the processor is running at any one point in time. The next line contains information on processes, threads, and handles. Threads and handles are actually sub-objects of processes. The Handles value shows the number of object identifiers, or handles, that are currently in use by all the running processes. The Threads value actually refers to the number of sub processes running inside larger processes. The Processes value, of course, represents the number of currently running processes.

Below that you'll find the Up Time value, which shows the amount of time, measured in days, hours, minutes, and seconds, that the computer has been running since the last time it was shut down or restarted.

Memory

In the Memory section of the Performance tab, the total amount of memory is prominently displayed, along with the memory type at the top of the screen, as shown in Figure D. In the lower right, you'll find the chip speed, the number of memory slots being used, and the form factor. You can even see the amount of memory that is marked as Hardware Reserved. This indicates the amount of memory reserved for use by the BIOS and drivers for peripheral devices that are installed in your system.

Figure D

Figure D
The Memory section of the Performance tab, provides you with detailed information about memory usage.

As you can see, there are two graphs in the Memory section. The first graph shows memory usage on a scale of 0 to the total amount of memory over a 60-second timeframe. The second graph, titled Memory Composition, shows the memory used by processes, drivers, or the operating system. If you hover your mouse pointer over the sections of the Memory Composition graph, you'll see that the darker section indicates the amount of memory in use and the lighter section indicates the amount of memory in standby. Figure E offers a composite view of this.

Figure E

Figure E
When you hover your mouse over the Memory Composition graph, you'll get more detailed information.

Below the graph you'll see familiar measurements, such as the amount of memory in use and the amount of available memory. The Committed value is a simple measurement that shows Page File usage. Here, the first number indicates the total amount of physical and virtual memory currently in use, while the second number indicates the total amount of physical and virtual memory available on your computer.

The Cached value indicates the amount of physical memory used recently for system resources. (This memory will remain in the cache in case the system resources are needed again, but it's available should other operations need it.)

The Paged Pool value indicates the amount of physical memory used by the operating system to store objects that can be written to disk when they're not being used. The Non-paged Pool value indicates the amount of physical memory used by the operating system to store objects that can't be written to disk but must remain in physical memory as long as they are allocated.

SEE: How to remove unwanted apps from Windows 10 (even though Microsoft doesn't want you to)

Disk

On the Disk section of the Performance tab, the model number of the drive and the type of drive are displayed at the top of the screen, as shown in Figure F. In the lower right you can see how much of it is formatted, whether it's the system disk, and whether it contains a page file.

Figure F

Figure F
The Disk section of the Performance tab contains two graphs.

There are two graphs in the Disk section. The first is titled Active Time and shows the percentage of your disk's utilization (the percentage of time the disk is processing read or write requests) on a scale of 0 to 100 over a 60-second timeframe. The second graph is titled Disk Transfer Rate and shows the transfer rates between the hard disk and the system over a 60-second timeframe.

Below the graphs is the Active Time value, which indicates the percentage of use at any one point in time. The Average Response Time value indicates of the amount of time it takes the drive to actually transfer data to the system. Of course, the Read and Write Speed values tell you how fast the disk is performing I/O operations.

SEE: How to remove pesky malware from your PC with Windows Defender Offline

Ethernet

In the Ethernet section of the Performance tab, the name of the Network card is displayed at the top of the screen, as shown in Figure G. You'll also see the adapter name, the connection type, and both the IPv4 and IPv6 IP addresses.

Figure G

Figure G
On the Ethernet section of the Performance tab, the name of the Network card is prominently displayed at the top of the section.

The graph shows the overall send and receive activity on a scale of 0 to 100 Kbps over a 60-second timeframe, while the Send and Receive values below the graph show the type of activity at any one point in time.

Wi-Fi

If you're using a wireless Ethernet adapter, the Wi-Fi section of the Performance tab will show the name of the wireless card at the top of the screen, as shown in Figure H. You'll also find the adapter name, the SSID, the connection type, both the IPv4 and IPv6 IP addresses, and the signal strength.

Figure H

Figure H
On the Wi-Fi section of the Performance tab, you'll find details about the wireless adapter.

If you right-click anywhere in the Ethernet or Wi-Fi sections and select View Network Details, you'll see a second window full of detailed information, as shown in Figure I.

Figure I

Figure I
Select View Network Details to display a second window full of detailed information.

Also read...

What's your take?

Do you think that there is enough information on the Performance tab in Task Manager to warrant your consideration? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Greg Shultz

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox