A glib definition of Process Explorer is that it's Task Manager on steroids. But that doesn't do it justice. I prefer to compare it to the dashboard of a car. A Windows computer without Process Explorer running in the background is like a car without a dashboard. The engine may be running, but the driver
has no clue what's going on under the hood.
Process Explorer may be my favorite Windows application, and I'm a very tough critic. Not only is it free, but it comes from a trusted source, Mark Russinovich. While he now works for Microsoft, Russinovich originally developed the program when he was working for himself and Microsoft has allowed him to continue development. Lucky for us.
There is so much to Process Explorer that no single article, or series of articles, can do it justice. I skimmed the surface with a couple blog postings in 2008 (Using Process Explorer to tame svchost.exe
and Process Explorer, Part 2
) and won't attempt to sell you on the software here. Rather, this article walks you through the installation and some initial tweaking to get you started with Process Explorer. GETTING STARTED
The current version, 12.03, runs on Windows XP and higher. Older versions supported Windows 9x and 2000, but I date myself.
You can download Process Explorer from Microsoft here
. The download is a small (less than 2 megabytes) zip file. Unzip the file into any folder. There are three files, the main one is procexp.exe.
I have installed Process Explorer hundreds of times (been a fan of it for years). The only time I ever had a problem, was just now, when I ran through the paces for this blog. I was logged on to Windows 7 as a standard user and suffered the error below.
Don't ask me why, but Windows 7 restricts the copying of .chm and .exe files out of a zip file.
Following the link in the error window just resulted in a "topic not found" error. I thought this might be an IE security zone thing (as per my recent blog postings), but it happens with the Internet zone set at the default value. No wonder Macs are so popular.
Switching to a userid with administrator privileges got around the problem.
Once the zip file is unpacked, Process Explorer is usable; just run the .exe. I suggest doing so at this point because you need to agree to licensing terms the first time it runs.