Many Windows users know that you can see a list of every program or process running on your PC via the Task Manager's Processes tab (accessible by hitting Ctrl+Alt+Delete, then clicking Task Manager, then clicking Processes).

The Processes tab allows you to automatically shut down anything that's running on your computer, so it can be useful when you want to terminate an unresponsive or frozen program. As such, the Task Manager can also help you identify and stop persistent pieces of spyware or malignant Trojans that simply won't respond to antispyware applications.

One problem with the Task Manager's Processes feature, though, is that it doesn't actually spell out the name of the programs or processes that are running on your machine. Instead, the Task Manager identifies running processes by their filename (such as "svchhost.exe"), which means that you may not always be able to tell potentially harmful processes from ones that are vital to the Windows operating system.

While you can certainly help separate good processes from bad ones by using Google to research these filenames, a better alternative might be Tasklist.org, a site that keeps a comprehensive database of processes found via the Task Manager. Tasklist.org tells you if a processes is required by the system, is part of a useful program, or is associated with spyware; if it's the latter, the site will even tell you which antispyware programs remove the offender most efficiently.

Brian Satterfield Staff Writer TechSoup.org