Sysinternals process explorer

Friday 2 April 2004

I've mentioned SysInternals here before, but I've just become addicted to another of their tools, Process Explorer. It's like the Task Manager on steroids. Have you ever looked at your process list and found some mysterious process running, but didn't know why it was there? Process Explorer shows you all the information from Task Manager, plus the parent process relationships, the path, description, and command line (!) of the executable.

For each process, you can get performance information or chart, the list of threads, a list of environment variables, the security permissions, and a list of all the DLLs loaded by the process. For each thread, you can see CPU usage, and you can examine the running stack. It just goes on and on.

In a nice touch, you can set it to replace your Task Manager, and its system tray icon shows the same CPU monitor, but it turns yellow or red as the CPU load gets too high. Highly highly recommended.


andrew 9:25 AM on 2 Apr 2004

Also, I believe that it can use the symbol server so that you can actually see the stack of each process in a slice.

Zoran Lazarevic 10:32 AM on 2 Apr 2004

What is a "symbol server"?

Process Explorer is great to see open handles to threads and open files. Just run your program for a while, then check if you forgot to close any files/events/threads...

Kartik 12:13 PM on 2 Apr 2004

I have found it an invaluable tool for troubleshooting too. Just the other day I couldn't remove a directory because some process was still using it. I simply went to Proexp, used its "Find Handle" search (which allows partial name search) and found the process.

Ben Poole 2:36 PM on 2 Apr 2004

Very useful! Thanks for the link. Lord knows I have to resort to process killing several times a day, so this is handy.

Matthew 4:02 PM on 5 Apr 2004

I've been using Process Explorer for a looong time. The list of DLLs by process, and where the DLL is being loaded from, has been tremendous in resolving "DLL Hell" issues.

Also, I've used it to uncover problems with non-computer literate friends whose computers have been "taken over" by a variety of malicious programs. The "autoruns" program on this same site is handy for identifying all those programs that start up at startup time.

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