Microsoft Windows contains a utility with which users can view the processes that are actively running on the system. This is important because each process uses system memory and unnecessary processes will slow the system down. Furthermore, the Task Manager hides some processes from the user for a variety of reasons. Discovering what these hidden processes are and ascertaining their nature can potentially help to speed the system up -- or reveal an infection by computer virus.
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The Windows operating system runs by maintaining a number of processes that run in the background at all times. These processes may or may not be visible to the user by default. This is often a security feature, and if invisible it is likely that the system could become unstable if the user were to disable it. Other processes run in the Task Manager when the user initiates a program or service that is not already running.
Hidden processes are often hidden for a reason. For instance, "audiodg.exe" is the process in Windows 7 that manages audio drivers. If the user were to shut this process down, or "kill" it, they would no longer be able to make use of their speakers. Be aware, however, that just because a process is hidden does not mean that it is necessarily safe. Many computer viruses compromise the system by creating new processes and hiding them from the user. To view all processes running on the computer, the user need only click within the small box beside the "Show Processes from All Users" entry in Task Manager.
Microsoft Windows tracks processes in real time from all users. If, for example, a Windows computer has two profiles simultaneously logged in, the Task Manager will track processes from each user. However, if the active user does not check the "Show Processes from All Users" option, only their own processes will be visible. It may be helpful to know that processes that are relevant only to the user of the second profile may be running in the background. It may be preferable in such a situation to view those processes and shut them down as they could potentially slow the computer.
Common Hidden Processes
There is a long list of Microsoft processes that can be set to be invisible by default. These include audiodg.exe, crss.exe, dwm.exe, pcmservice.exe, and Isass.exe. However, this list is not exclusive. Keep in mind that closing processes can cause system instability. If the user comes across a hidden process that is using quite a bit of memory, it is a good idea to make use of an Internet search engine to ascertain its nature. It is always inadvisable to kill a process without knowing first what it does.
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