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January 18, 1999

Utilities can help you monitor and manage Windows NT, Win98

If you've ever wished you could look inside your Windows or Windows NT system to see what's really going on in there, monitoring utilities can help. Some of my favorite utilities have been recently updated. Here is a look at a few of them.

SuperMonitor. This utility, now included Version 2.0 of Tessler's Nifty Tools, is available for Windows NT and Windows 3.1/95/98.

SuperMonitor displays in real time your system's RAM usage, its virtual memory, and those essential 64KB "resource heaps" called User and GDI, which stands for Graphics Device Interfaces. These are helpful in tracking down programs that have "memory leaks." Such programs can make your system sluggish as the day progresses by failing to release all of their resources when they are finished using them.

SuperMonitor is similar to two utilities provided with Windows 95/98: Resource Meter and System Monitor. (To find them, click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools.)

But there are important differences. SuperMonitor lets you open a monitoring window and "freeze" its initial statistics. You can then start another window to use for comparison while opening and closing applications. This can help you pinpoint an application that is leaking resources.

SuperMonitor also allows you to save a log file to disk, just as System Monitor does. But you get much more detail and greater control over the information included in the log file.

The free version of SuperMonitor allows you to watch your system for 5 minutes at a time. The $39 registered version allows unlimited monitoring.

For download and order information, see

WinTop (Kernel Toys). To determine the amount of CPU-time each of your running applications is consuming, you need WinTop. This utility can remain on top of all windows while you launch different applications to see how much CPU-time each uses.

This information is invaluable in tracking down inefficient programs that slow everything else down. Using WinTop, I found that an old version of a program consumed 50 percent of a Pentium's CPU-time, but a newer version consumed only 5 percent.

WinTop runs under Windows 95 and 98. A similar feature is built into NT on its Processes tab.

WinTop is part of a free download from Microsoft called Kernel Toys. Go to and click Download Now. The Web page says Kernel Toys is not intended for Windows 98, but I've run WinTop on Windows 98 with no problems.

Process Viewer. This free tool enables you to view the priority level and DLLs used by each running process. You can kill an errant window or attach a debugger to a running application to troubleshoot DLLs.

Download Process Viewer from It works under Windows NT or Windows 98/95, but to run it on NT may require a support file known as Psapi.dll (which may already be installed). That file can be downloaded from

WinKill. Although Process Viewer has the capability to shut down an application, the king of viewer/terminators is WinKill. It doesn't merely close one application, it can close them all.

WinKill is a free download available from

Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows 98 Secrets (IDG Books). Send tips to He regrets that he cannot answer individual questions.

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