Resource and Reliability Monitors in Windows 7

June 21, 2011, By Christian Cawley

When Windows 7 is chugging along slowly for no apparent reason and you suspect that a performance issue is the reason for this, what can you do?

The usual approach is probably to hit CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to check Task Manager, and use the Processes and perhaps Performance tabs to check on any possible resource hogs. These are usually identified by having unnecessarily high CPU or RAM usage, things that will immediately give away any issues with one or more applications.

However in Windows 7 there are other ways that you can use to keep an eye on just what resources are being utilized. For instance you might take advantage of a widget that displays CPU and RAM usage, or you might use the Windows Resource Monitor, a tool that offers a few extra functions to the standard Task Manager view.

Resource and Reliability Monitors in Windows 7

Additionally, you can use the Windows Reliability Monitor to check your system for any data that might confirm your suspicion that things aren’t running as well as they might.

Resource Gadgets

Windows 7 features various gadgets that display different useful information, such as clocks, RSS feeds and resource monitors. The default resource monitor gadget – available by right-clicking an empty portion of the desktop and selecting Gadgets – will display the current CPU and RAM usage, although for the CPU this is limited to an overall figure and doesn’t reliably inform you of the current CPU status if you have a multi-core processor.

There are various other gadgets available, however, that overcome this issue. These third party tools are particularly useful; for instance, the CPU Usage meter will detect your processor type as well as offer clock speed and RAM usage data.

Windows Resource Monitor

For better results than a gadget or Task Manager can offer, meanwhile, you can try the Windows Resource Monitor, available via Start typing resmon and pressing Enter.

Using the Resource Monitor you can check exactly what resources are being used by which process. The tool is split into an overall view and additional tabs displaying CPU, memory, disk and network usage, with useful graphs on the right-hand side charting the status of each resource.

Additionally, you can use the monitor to examine specific behaviour, by selecting a process with its check box and using the Monitor menu to start and stop monitoring. This might prove particularly useful if you suspect that a particular process or application is hogging resources.

Windows Reliability Monitor

In addition to the Windows Resource Monitor, Windows 7 includes a reliability monitor, which can be opened via Start > Control Panel > System and Security > Action Center > Maintenance > View reliability history.

When you use this utility, it will spend a few minutes generating a report and then display a chart with a scale of 1 to 10, listing critical events (times when software had to be forcibly closed), warnings (occasions when a driver might have failed to update, for instance) and information events (successful installations).

This proves a useful tool in uncovering software that regularly fails and with the date information you might even cross reference this will other events. Additionally, you can view details about each event listed in the monitor or check for solutions for certain issues.

These are all great tools for keeping an eye on just how Windows is managing, and with prolonged use over a few days you should be able to build up a picture of your system and decide on what action to take to resolve any issues.

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