Back on Sept, 13, 2008 I wrote an article about my system hanging, which locked up my browser and required a hard reboot. I received a comment in the post [here] which stated:

Bryan Price

Sysinternal’s ProcExp, Process Explorer. Easy enough to kill a hung process. I use it instead of task manager.

So I went out and downloaded Process Explorer from Microsoft TechNet website. On the web site it states:

Ever wondered which program has a particular file or directory open? Now you can find out. Process Explorer shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes have opened or loaded.

The Process Explorer display consists of two sub-windows. The top window always shows a list of the currently active processes, including the names of their owning accounts, whereas the information displayed in the bottom window depends on the mode that Process Explorer is in: if it is in handle mode you’ll see the handles that the process selected in the top window has opened; if Process Explorer is in DLL mode you’ll see the DLLs and memory-mapped files that the process has loaded. Process Explorer also has a powerful search capability that will quickly show you which processes have particular handles opened or DLLs loaded.

The unique capabilities of Process Explorer make it useful for tracking down DLL-version problems or handle leaks, and provide insight into the way Windows and applications work.

Process Explorer works on Windows 2000 SP4 Rollup 1 or above.

There is an option in Process Explorer that allows this program to replace Task Manager, which I opted to do. As an experiment I went to the same website that had locked up both Firefox and IE and sure enough, they locked up again. But this time I used Process Explorer instead of Task Manager and both programs were closed quickly and I was able to resume my work without a reboot.

I would recommend that you give Process Explorer a try. It is a freebie.

Thanks to Bryan for this tip.

Comments welcome.

Process Explorer is here.