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by Ray Carlson

Q. My computer at times gets unusually slow doing mysterious things. In addition, the Start button or Task bar may stop working or the computer becomes slow starting. Can I fix these things? I have Windows 10. (This is actually a combination of questions from different people.)

A. Windows 10 has improved the Task Manager to help assess and resolve the types of problems mentioned. Tap the ctrl, alt, and escape keys at the same time. The Task Manager appears with a list of the programs and background processes currently operating on the computer. If only the names of the programs appear, click More details near the bottom of the window. The chart will expand showing all the processes that are running and how much of your resources each program and process is using.

Focus attention on the big users. If you don't recognize them, right click with the mouse on that item and select Search online. Websites that explain that program or process should be listed. If that information suggests the program is not important, right clicking also gives the option to end it thereby having things run faster. Be careful about stopping background processes you don't understand, but programs can be restarted later. Windows Explorer should not be ended, but if the start menu or taskbar has stopped working, typically there is a malfunction with Windows Explorer. Right click on that program and then click on restart.

Task Manager also has a tab at the top called Startup. Select that tab, and a list of the programs that run when the computer starts appears identifying those that have a high impact on the startup process. Again, you can right click with the mouse to search online for information on these programs and disable any that the online information suggests is unimportant.

Computers can be confusing machines. Checking the Task Manager occasionally and looking strange items up online should offer some confidence that you are partially in control.

Published: Courier 11/21/15 - Page 6B