Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

I talk about the software I use most often and that I make sure to take with me when diagnosing computer problems.

Listen to the podcast: What's on Your Nerdstick?


This is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at

I was asking myself the other day, what programs I run the most often. Or more specifically, what programs do I use most frequently when diagnosing various and sundry computer related problems and issues.

In other words, what program goes onto my USB memory stick, or "nerd stick", first, to take with me?

At the very top of my list is Process Explorer, by the folks at For one reason or another, I find myself using it nearly every day.

I used to tell people that it's like Windows Task Manager, on steroids, but that really doesn't do it justice. Some of the things you can to with Process Explorer include:

  • find out who's using all the CPU. Or Memory. Or bandwidth. Or several other system resources.
  • find out who WAS using all the CPU a few minutes ago.
  • Determine the command line used to start any process
  • Determine which Windows services a given process is providing
  • Figure out who's got that file open
  • List a process's tcp/ip connections
  • Recent versions have even included an ability to look at the human-readable strings
  • that a process's executable, or memory, contains.

That's really just a sampling ... there's much more, and I'm certain that there are capabilities that I've yet to discover.

Process explorer can be configured to completely replace Task Manager - I recommend it. has a number of useful, and high quality, techie tools. And like Process Explorer, most of them are completely free. Check it out.

I'll touch on some of my other recommended and most used tools and applications in future podcasts.

I have links to sysinternal's process explorer with the show notes for this podcast. Visit and enter 8712 in the go to article number box on the home page. While you're there, leave a comment and tell me your most valuable geek tool - I'd love to hear from you.

This is a presentation of, a free on-line technical question and answer service. Hundreds of questions and answers are online and ready to help solve your computer problems. New questions and answers are added daily.


Article C2375 - June 21, 2005 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

July 27, 2005 11:24 AM

I too am a big fan of those guys at systernals. I keep a zip file of the PSTools suite, and a few batch files I wrote on the nerd stick first. I have my Anapod software and a copy of JetAudio as well. Then I keep a few e-books around for referance. I usually have a copy of Advanced Data Recovery as well.

Take Care!

Viv Penhallurick
October 13, 2006 6:08 PM

The link on this article did not work needs to updated to

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