If you’re a Windows users, then you’re likely accustomed to your box periodically grinding to an inexplicable crawl. And likely you’ve become accustomed to looking morosely over to the hard disk LED as Windows furiously swaps memory, or randomly formats volumes, or sends secret blinking morse code love letters rapid fire to your toaster, or Gates only knows what it’s doing.
For years I’ve looked for some kind of tool that would give me better insight into what was going on under the hood. The guys at SysInternals have a variety of apps that are helpful (if not downright awesome), but none that would allow me to causally glance at a dashboardy widget and say “Oh, it’s the whuzawazzit again. Guess I’ll go get some coffee.”
I first saw System Monitor some months back on Lifehacker. And while it was a useful little resource monitoring tool, it wasn’t really useful enough for me to remember that it was actually installed. That is, until last month’s update.
Version 1.27 of System Monitor includes one very important and revealing feature: Bottleneck Reporting. As you can see above, System Monitor tips you off to the most likely “villain” of any performance slowdown.
In my case (and certainly in the case of most everyone else) the bottleneck is typically going to be the HDD; hence our Pavlovian stare-at-HDD-LED response. Now, however, I at least know what’s causing my disks to spin and my head to turn.
Outlook, which as always been the primary suspect, is of course guilty as sin. And to my surprise I see both Firefox and Skype lurking around the “Main Loader” far more often than not. And then there are the myriad of Windows sub-processes that seem to be taking industrious liberty with my hard disk behind closed doors.
But now that I finally know what the heck Windows is doing, I can finally, at long last, do something proactive to improve system performance.
Like, say, switch to a Mac.