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.

If you suspect that your computer is infected with a persistent piece of spyware, you may want to copy and paste the names of the processes running in the Task Manager into Google. If you see multiple search results that state that the process in question is really part of a piece of spyware, that's a strong indicator that you should end the process.

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Brian Satterfield Staff Writer TechSoup.org