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Monitoring Windows Resources

There probably aren't many users of Windows operating systems that have not experienced unexpected crashes from time to time. The good news is that there is an easy way to avoid at least some of these crashes.

Obviously it is more desirable to initiate a controlled shutdown than experience a system crash that could result in data (and hair) loss. One way to achieve this goal is to use resource-monitoring tools that can inform you of impending trouble before it strikes.

Windows 98/Me users:

The Windows Resource Meter is a tiny program that runs in the background and lets you know the amount of resources your system is using at a given time. It displays as an icon in the System Tray and is colour coded. If the icon dips down to yellow, it might be a good time to close a few programs to see if you can reclaim some memory. If it goes down to red, and closing programs doesn't improve things much, it's probably a good time to reboot your system. Clicking the icon will open a window with more detailed resource information.

To locate and enable the Windows Resource Meter:

1. Click "Start", "Programs", "Accessories" and then "System Tools". Hopefully the Resource Meter will be present. If not, you may need to install it from your operating system installation disk. Alternatively, you can download a slightly enhanced version. The enhanced version has some extra right-click menu items.

2. If you want the Resource Meter to load when you start your computer you can drag its shortcut from "System Tools" and drop it in the "Startup" folder.

Windows XP Users:

Thankfully, Windows XP tends to be more stable than Windows 9x and has better memory management. Never the less, it's still helpful to keep an eye on your CPU usage.

You can keep the CPU meter from Windows Task Manager running in your system tray all the time. To do this:

1: Key Control/Alt/Delete to open the Windows Task Manager.

2. Click "Options" and then check "Minimize on Use" and "Hide when Minimized."

3. Click the "minimize" button rather than the "close" button and the little resource meter will stay in your system tray and let you see how hard your processor is working.

Hold your mouse over the icon to see the actual percentage of resources being used. Click the icon for quick access to the Task Manager.

Tip by Brett M.Christensen