ZIFFPAGE TITLEOpening a Window into

By Robyn Peterson  |  Posted 2003-08-05 Print this article Print

Your Computer"> Opening a Window into Your Computer

Now you can tell where your PCs resources are going, but how do you decide which processes are to be or not to be—that is the question. Before you can take arms against a sea of troubles, you need to know which processes you can safely kill—and that knowledge is one of the big guns TaskPower has already put in your arsenal. The information shown by the utilitys tabbed interface helps you hone in on the miscreants. All of the tab displays give descriptions of the processes, for example. And the full process name shown on the Services and Drivers panels can provide an invaluable clue. Note, however, that killing a driver is rarely a good idea. You should do so only if youre completely sure your system will suffer no ill effects.

The rating icons that appear on the Tasks tabs display let you instantly tell which tasks are on the up and up and which are up to no good. Although you see just five icons, there are actually ten ratings. Right-click anywhere on the information for a task, select Describe from the context menu, and a dialog that shows the actual rating (and other information) will pop up. The summary that follows gives the name, display-icon name (in parentheses), and description of each rating.

  • System (System). This rating indicates the process is part of your computers operating system.
  • Background (System). A task of this nature generally operates behind the scenes without user intervention and is part of your system.
  • Normal (Normal). A typical healthy computer would be running this task.
  • Major vendor (Normal). The process is part of a package from an influential software publisher (such as Microsoft or Adobe).
  • Small vendor (Normal). The task belongs to a program created by a less-influential software maker.
  • Unverified (Unknown). A rating hasnt been finalized for this process.
  • Unknown (Unknown). TaskPower doesnt recognize this process.
  • Suspect (Suspicious). This rating warns that a task may be spyware or malicious.
  • Spyware (Dangerous). The process may be transmitting information about you and your behavior to a third party.
  • Malicious (Dangerous). The process may be harming your computer.

Robyn Peterson

Robyn Peterson, Vice President of Product Management and CTO for Ziff Davis Media, oversees PCMag.com, GearLog.com, SmartDeviceCentral.com, TechnoRide.com, and the other consumer-oriented Ziff Davis Media websites. He also covers multiple content areas, including but not limited to consumer electronics, car techonology, software and development, and networking. Robyn is also the host of the PCMag Radio podcast (subscribe in iTunes).

Robyn has appeared on CNN, CNN Headline News, MSNBC, CBS, Fox, Fox News and the WB network representing PC Magazine, GearLog.com, and ExtremeTech. His writing appears on ABCNews.com and Yahoo in addition to PC Magazine, eWEEK, CGW, and ExtremeTech. He has also won the Chairman's Circle 2001 Award for outstanding editorial contributions to Ziff Davis Media (parent company of ExtremeTech and PC Magazine).

Robyn has a masters of science in computer science from New York University (NYU).

He can be reached at robyn_peterson (AT) ziffdavis.com.

Robyn's latest PCMag.com articles:


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