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How-To Geek

What You Said: How You Monitor Your Computer

imageEarlier this week we asked you to share your computer monitoring tips and tricks, now we’re back to share the wealth. Read on to see how your fellow reader monitor their gear.

One of the more popular monitoring tools, thanks in part to the amount of things beyond just hardware it can monitor, in the comments was Rainmeter. Lee writes:

I don’t really monitor my computer constantly, only when something is hanging up and I need to see what’s causing it.

That being said, I do have Rainmeter so I can quickly see how much RAM or CPU is being used. For anything more detailed, I just go into the task manager and sort by RAM or CPU.

Shinigamibob uses a wider range of tools to get a more in-depth look at difference aspects of his computer:

I use OpenHardware monitor to monitor all my hardware temperatures and loads. It even shows the various voltages on the motherboard – which come in very handy when I’m monitoring the overall stability of an overclock. For SSDs, it even shows the drive wear and life expectancy. It can also graph any sort of temperature data. Thats what I use 99% of the time – simple and elegant.

When I’m load testing or stability testing an overclock, its always the same couple tools. RealTemp and CPU-z. CPU-z has a lot more granular information than OpenHardwareMonitor does, but data that is only useful in a specific scenario. RealTemp is also very important in that it allows for the logging of temperature data. So even if I leave a load test running overnight and it happens to BSOD or reboot, I’ll always have the temperatures of each individual core.

When I’m gaming (the little that I do nowadays), its MSI Afterburner for GPU monitoring. The on screen overlay is incredibly useful in that the load, temperature, voltages, and fan speeds are shown directly on top of whatever game I’m playing. On top of that, it supports multiple cards just as well and shows if SLI or Corssfire is working properly (by checking the GPU usage and framerate). Its a small overlay on the corner of the screen so its never intrusive. More useful than Fraps for sure – the screen recording built has better utilization of CPU’s for better compression of video and wont eat up an entire disk for a 30 minute recording session (or cost you $35)

Most of those tools even have remote monitoring capabilities, but I prefer to use Mobile PC Monitor for that.

Not everyone relies on a plethora of third-party tools however, Frank gets by just fine (as do many readers) with basic in-OS monitor:

For personal/home use, Ctrl-Shift-Esc brings up Windows 7 Task Manager with CPU Usage and Physical Memory Usage at the bottom, and if I click on Processes tab, then CPU or Memory column header to sort largest first, I can quickly see if there’s a CPU or Memory hog – if not, it may be my modem overheating/slowing

For space, I use TreeSize Free to find the biggest files I can delete to free up space, I especially like the Portable version on my USB thumbdrives – otherwise My Computer shows drive size and free space no problems.


For more monitoring tips, tricks, and app suggestions, hit up the full comment thread.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/5/12

Comments (7)

  1. George

    This is really useful, as I had no idea at all on how to monitor your computer (apart from Task Manager)!
    Thanks HTG!

  2. Tim

    Gkrellm2 on Ubuntu 12.04 in the Fluxbox desktop ‘slit’. Works great!

  3. Moloch

    I replaced my task manager with Proces Explorer and using Speedfan to monitor temp and voltage, even combined with BgInfo for a informative live updating deaktop

  4. Saeed Iranzad

    I always have Coretemp in front of my eyes at the bottom of my desktop and Cpumeter gadget of Windows on the desktop.
    There is no need for more third party softwares.

  5. Ed

    I use Conky on my Linux desktop and GeekTool on my MacBook.

  6. Introvertsrule

    What is the Rainmeter skin featured at the top?

  7. Patmilton

    I’ve personally been using Qustodio, a free app that does a remarkable job at filtering sites and also reporting the online activities systematically. Over the last few months, it has served me well and is light weight and easy to use.

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