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Time, Money, and Lives Blog

Why is My Computer so Slow?! An Introduction to the Task Manager

Use the task manager to see why your computer is running slowHave you ever wondered why your computer starts to get sluggish? Opening your email is slow, news articles take FOREVER to download, and nothing seems to be working right. Well, your computer has probably been up too long. Calling IT or support will tell you to restart it, but why? Like a person, if you leave a computer up for too long without restarting, it just exhausts itself. Too many activities and programs are running, and the computer cannot keep up. "But how did IT know my computer had been up for so long?" You wonder, "Where are they finding a list of these activities?" The answer is the Task Manager, and understanding how to use it can actually empower you to take control of your own troubleshooting!

The Task Manager, like it sounds, keeps track of and manages all of the tasks your computer is currently performing. It will tell you what applications you have open, like Outlook, Internet Explorer, or Excel. It also tells you about the various processes and services running in the background that you may not even know about. Additionally, it gives technical information about how long the computer has been up, how much of the memory is being used, and even the network speed.

You can take control of your own troubleshooting by opening up the Task Manager and taking a look yourself. All you need to do is use the mouse to right-click anywhere on the bottom bar of your computer and select the Task Manager from the menu. Once it's open, you’ll see a number of different tabs. The most important for you are Applications, Processes, and Performance.

In the first tab, Applications, you can see what programs you have open right now. You can manually close any of them by selecting and clicking on End Task. In the Processes tab, you can see everything else running in the background. In some newer versions of the Task Manager, these may be combined into one tab as shown in the picture:

Task Manager.png

Let’s say you received an error saying that only one version of VoiceOver can run at a time. If you open the Processes tab, you can actually “kill” the extra version. All you need to do is search for voiceover.exe and natspeak.exe and click End Process.

The third tab, Performance, shows you all of the technical info for your computer. Up Time will show you how long your computer has been up without being restarted. If you ever see it being more than one or two days, it's highly recommended that you reboot your pc. As I discussed in my blog on ransomware, restarting daily doesn't just give your computer a break, it allows your IT department to install important updates and security patches.

By understanding the Task Manager, you can begin to do your own troubleshooting. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact our support team.

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Topics: Best Practices Technology Tips and Tricks Tips