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Windows XP Power Hound by Preston Gralla

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Processor Tricks

While today's microprocessors (also called CPUs) handle most tasks easily, certain activities like running computer-aided design software, CD-burning, and game-playing can make even a speedy system crawl.

The Task Manager (Figure 11-6) is a good way to determine how your CPU is holding up under the work you're asking it to do. Then you can make some decisions about when to launch certain programs—or whether it's time to upgrade your PC.

CPU-Draining Programs You Don't Need

Oftentimes a single program causes your system to slow down—kind of like an unruly child in a classroom sapping a teacher's attention. Want to identify which programs drain most of your CPU's power? Follow these steps:

  1. Run the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete. Then click the Processes tab.

    The Processes tab shows all the programs and services currently running on your computer and gives details about each one, including how much of the CPU each is using.

  2. Double-click the CPU heading.

    The Task Manager reorders the list of programs and services so those that most use the CPU are listed at the top, as shown in Figure 11-6. Frequently, the top listing is System Idle Process, which indicates what percentage of your CPU isn't in use.

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