Task manager may be idle but it's always ready to roll
by George Skarbek - Sept 6th 2005

Q: I have occasionally checked the Processes tab in Task Manager in XP and am surprised to find a long list of .exe processes with 00 in the CPU column, then right at the end of the list is System Idle Process, which has 99 in the CPU column. Is this normal and what does it mean? It just seems odd that one process should be so much different from the others. Also, why would there be 40 or 50 processes in the list when I am only doing one or two things?

A: What you see is quite normal. The System Idle Process of 99 per cent means that the CPU is lightly loaded with only 1 per cent of its resources being used at that time.

The other processes are idle but Windows XP is designed so that the processes are loaded into memory ready to respond when needed and should not be unloaded in most cases. Typical idle processes would be your anti-virus when not checking any files, the firewall, any spyware programs and many system processes such as the task manager, print spooler and scheduler. Usually you will have several instances of Svchost.exe running. This Microsoft program loads groups of programs from the registry, such as the networking group, and the multiple instances are to assist with debugging in case of system problems.

Q: My Windows XP refuses to close down when told, I hit the close down from Start and the main Turn Off Computer symbol fails to appear and the busy hourglass just sits there. What can I do?

A: This problem can be caused by many different factors. My suggestion is that you visit Microsoft's knowledge base, select Windows XP as the product and in the Search For box enter: shutdown hangs and look for the answer best describing your setup.


Q: My HP Pavilion was reloaded with Windows XP. The desktop icons sometimes are so far left that they are not visible on the screen. Even the Start function is barely visible. How can I get them to remain visible?

A: Your problem may have been caused by having a lower screen resolution set after the re-installation. You can adjust the screen resolution by right-clicking on the desktop, Properties, Setting and then you can alter the resolution to your liking.

To rearrange the icons you can right-click on the desktop and select Arrange Icons By from the pop-up menu and arrange them in the order that you like. If you click Auto Arrange they will always automatically arrange themselves starting from the top left-hand side of the screen.

Q: I often receive a web link animated .GIF files such as the one shown. It is usually a joke but I am unable to save it in an active form. How do I do this?

A: After you have clicked on the web link and the image appears you should right-click on the image and select Save As. This method saves animated GIF files as well.

Q: I have been helping a friend to set up his computer. While I am a bit more computer literate than he, I am struggling a little. He has bought a PC and is using XP as the operating system. The problem we have is that the system will not allow the preferred Outlook program to operate. I have loaded Microsoft Office 2000 SR-1 Premium and would like the system to default to that. My own computer is using the same software and Outlook 2000 is the default program for me. However, Outlook Express is the program that keeps opening up for him. I have exhausted all other options (Help Section, Telstra, Microsoft help, etc) but still can't get it operating.

A: To set a specific mail program to be the default mail reader is not that obvious, as you have already found. To achieve this change you should click on Start, Settings, Control Panel, Internet Options and then click on the Programs tab. Then when you click on the email selection, all the mail readers that are installed on your computer will be shown and you can select Outlook.

To look at a book, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here