If your computer seems sluggish, the cause could be many things, including a network issue, which might not be due to your computer. If you've reviewed the contents of the network performance article, tried the steps, and you're still experiencing sluggishness, then it may be your computer that's limiting you.
One way to tell if your computer is not keeping up is to examine the CPU performance in the task manager. You can open the task manager by tapping the following three keys at once: CTRL+SHIFT+ESC.
If the task manager appears and you see More details at the bottom left, click on More details to show more information about your tasks.
Once you see more details, you'll see several rows across the top. Select the Performance tab, highlighted in red in the following image.
In the Performance tab, you'll see lots of details about the computer's hardware and performance, including the CPU, memory, graphics, network and disk usage. Once in this tab, click on the CPU image at left, as shown. You'll then see a graph over time, perhaps 60 seconds worth, showing the percentage of total CPU computing power your computer is using. The higher this graph is, the more your CPU's capacity is being used. If you have all of your regular charts up and running, and you're using less than 50% of the available CPU most of the time, then you're probably not being limited by your CPU.
If you see spikes where it approaches or even flattens out up at 100%, then that implies that there's more work for the CPU than it can handle. That's ok if it happens rarely, such as when you're changing screens or bringing up a new chart, but if it's constantly above 75% or so, or maxing out, then you may benefit from upgrading your CPU if you must run all the programs you're using that pushes the CPU that high. It may be that you just have too much running, and if you can close out some programs that you're not using, the demand may drop. You can check the impact of that by looking for a reduction of CPU utilization on this chart. You can also try reducing the number of charts to see if that brings your over-utilized CPU back to something it can more easily manage.
You can also check if you're using too much of other resources. For example, you can click on the Memory button at the left to bring up a chart of memory. Just like with CPU utilization, you don't want to use all of the memory in your computer if you're looking to avoid sluggishness. Memory in a computer can be a little confusing, as there are different types of memory. There's physical and virtual memory, as well as hard drive memory, and even other types, such as cache, etc. What we're interested in here is physical main memory, which is the hardware memory where programs must reside in order to run. If there's not enough physical memory for your programs to run, then the operating system will temporarily switch programs you're not using to a place on the hard drive in order to let a higher priority program run in physical memory. If you don't have enough physical memory, then your computer may be spending a lot of time swapping programs between real and "virtual" memory. So it's best to not use all of your memory. Just like with the CPU graph, if you're using more than75% of your memory, then maybe you are being limited by how much memory is in your computer. If so, you can reduce the number of programs you're running, or reduce the number of charts, and see if it reduces the memory utilization. If you still don't have enough memory, then perhaps a memory increase is needed.
In the image below, we can see that we have a total of 32 GB of physical memory on this computer, and that we're using about 46% of that memory for whatever's currently running on the computer. A couple of small reductions appear in the history showing how much closing a program reduces memory utilization. Note that you can use this graph to get a better feel for how much memory a program is using by examining how the graph changes when you close that program. This computer is probably ok, as we're using half of the available memory. Note that most operating systems still use "virtual" memory even if physical memory is available, and that's usually ok and unavoidable in most cases. What we want to watch out for is using too much of the physical memory.
The other graphs show disk utilization, and once again, you're looking to avoid prolonged usage at the top of the graph. Same thing with the GPU graph, which shows your Graphics Processing Unit utilization. You'll find that that graph offers different views of the data, such as 3D utilization - which we typically don't use in our typical trading charts (we use 2D graphics primarily).
Be careful using the Ethernet chart, which is your network, as it can be a bit misleading. Unlike CPU, Memory, etc., this Ethernet (Network) graph adjusts the scale and the data values automatically. So if it starts to spike toward the top of the graph, it will resize the y axis of the graph, showing a larger number on a larger scale. So the Ethernet graph at the top may not be as impactful as it is for the other graphs. One thing you can gain from this chart is an idea of how much network data you're receiving and sending, which you can read from the data beneath the chart. You'll see that the Send and Receive data are in separate rows. But also make note of the units it lists. Like the graph, it automatically changes from Kbps to Mbps, which is from kilobit/sec to megabits/sec. (It takes about 10 bits to make a byte. A kilobit is 1000 bits, and a megabit is 1000 kilobits. )If you know that your service should have 500 Megabits/sec, and you're using close to that, then perhaps you could benefit from a network speed increase. Keep in mind that this is just what your computer is using. It doesn't reflect what others are doing on your network. In the image below, we're sending 56 kbps, which is small compared to the amount we're receiving, which is 984 kbps (almost a megabit). And there's a large spike that goes off the chart where we temporarily downloaded data at more than 11 Mbps. But if this user has 1 Gigabit/sec service (a Gigabit is 1000 Megabits), then 11 Megabits per second is barely 1% of a Gigabit, so it shouldn't be a concern. However, networking has many factors to it, including whether you're connected wirelessly, whether you have a VPN, and so much more. So network utilization is a bit trickier to resolve. See the article referenced at the very top of this article for more info on analyzing network utilization.
So what is this chart useful for? One thing you can do is assess what certain network-based activities have on your overall network utilization. For example, you could watch the graph until it averages out, and then launch Netflix to see how much it uses. Assuming it's the only thing that's been added to the network bandwidth, the difference you see might reflect what Netflix is using.
While none of these utilization graphs are perfect, they will give you some idea of where your computer's bottlenecks might be. The information you gain will likely be more useful if you make your observations over time, so you're not reacting to a single spike or event. With the right information, it can help make a case for when you need to upgrade specific components. It can also let you know the impact of increasing or reducing the demand on your computer (e.g. should I use fewer charts?), and might even help let you know when it's time to upgrade to a whole new computer when it's not performing well enough to meet your needs.
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