What Is CPU Usage & PF Usage?


The task manager is a utility for Microsoft Windows products including Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. There is a huge amount of information contained in this little pane allowing a knowledgeable user to diagnose how efficiently their computer is running as well as predict software and hardware trouble. Apple computers running OS Leopard and above have their own version of a task manager.

CPU Usage

  • CPU usage represents how much of the central processing unit's total ability to manipulate data is being used. There are separate graphs for each processing core that your computer can use. When your computer is idling, and you have no active programs running, the CPU usage is typically at 1 percent. Persistent spikes in activity while your computer is running can indicate infections from viruses or malware including bot nets.

Paging File

  • Your paging file is a software support for your computer's normal memory-using hard drive space. On older operating systems, this was commonly referred to as virtual memory. You can manually adjust the size of your paging file when operating memory intensive applications. The total paging file should not exceed 15 percent of total available space on your hard drive. When your paging file is full, there will be a negative impact on your computer's performance.

Physical Memory

  • Physical memory is representative of the actual physical memory located within your computer. The physical memory graph tracks how much available memory vs. used memory your computer has available. When physical memory is low, it will start transferring data to the paging file to supplement itself.

Kernel Memory

  • The kernel is the operating device between applications and the hardware units of a computer such as the CPU. This is one of the most basic components of computer hardware and controls the interaction of all other devices. Kernel memory is not only physical memory, but paged memory as well. When the kernel memory becomes full, it often causes fatal crashes in programs or the entire computer.


  • The Windows task manager has many other uses besides monitoring the basic memory processes. From the applications and processes tabs, you can monitor all the active programs running on your computer as well as the background programs that support your user applications. The networking tab allows you to monitor usage by other users as well as your Internet connection. By taking advantage of the different data sets included in the task manager, you can track exactly what is happening behind the scenes of your PC.

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  • Photo Credit Windows Vista Task Manager
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