Guide to Windows XP Task Manager Part III

In this third post, we’re continuing the Windows Task Manager series. We already looked at the Applications tab and the Processes tab, now we’ll go through the last two tabs: Performance and Networking.

The Performance tab is a little confusing with all kinds of monitors like Physical Memory, Commit Charge, and Kernel Memory. What does all that mean? Well, let’s do the easy part first: CPU Usage. This is simply a graphical view of your current CPU usage, nothing special. You’ll see it spike here and there, especially if you open a program or something similar.

performance tab

The next two graphs are referred to as “PF Usage” and “Page File Usage History“, but this is misleading because it doesn’t actually refer to the amount of your page file being used, but is the commit charge. So what is the commit charge? Well the Total Commit Charge is actually the memory allocated to programs and the operating system. It first uses physical memory and then uses virtual memory.

You’ll notice under physical memory, I have a total of 1GB and 484 MB are still available. Subtract 10408040 KB from 484632 KB and you get 563 MB. That’s the exact value show in PF Usage graph. However, under Commit Charge, you’ll notice the Total is 577 MB, which is a bit higher. That means a little bit of data is being sent out to the actual page file on disk.

pf usage

The Limit number underneath Commit Charge is the total of all your virtual memory and physical memory combined. Kernel Memory is simply memory that is assigned to the operating system kernel and device drivers and that no one else can use. The sum of Paged and Nonpaged equals the total. Paged means that some of the kernel memory is using virtual memory (the page file) and the rest is using physical memory (the RAM).

There’s one more thing about this tab and that’s if you go to View and you’ll see an option called Show Kernel Times.

show kernel times

What this does is show you the percentage of the processor being used by the Windows Kernel or operating system. It’ll display red on top of some of the green part. So if half the bar is green and half is red, that means 50% of the current CPU Usage is the Kernel!

Now moving on to the Networking tab. This tab is very useful if, say, your connection to the Internet is slow or you are copying files between computers and it’s taking forever. You can go to the Networking tab and if you see that your Local Area Connection is at 90% utilization, then you might have some kind of virus or spyware that’s eating up all your bandwidth. Normally, it should look bland like this:

networking tab

The Networking tab is fairly easy to understand: You have a graph for each type of network adapter on your computer (Ethernet aka Local Area Connection, wireless adapter, bluetooth, etc). At the bottom you get some basic information such as the adapter name, the network utilization, maximum link speed and current state.

As you can see only my wireless connection is working (operational) and my utilization is close to 0. This should for the most part be very low unless you are transferring or downloading large video or audio files. One last thing about this tab is if you go to View and choose Select Columns…, you can pick a whole bunch of other network stats too!

network tabs columns

So that’s about it for the Windows Task Manager series. Hopefully, it was useful and if you have any questions about the task manager, please leave us a comment. Enjoy!