Windows is a multitasking system. It means that a lot of various applications are running simultaneously in it. You directly work with some of them, but some of them work invisibly and independently. The priority of an application is a parameter that tells the system which task has priority over other tasks. For example, if there are two programs that are running simultaneously and with the same priority, they will have equal shares of the processor time. But in case you set a higher priority for one of them, the program that has this higher priority will use all the free processor time while the one with a lower priority will use only the rest of it.
For example, if you have an application for rendering a video clip running on your computer, it will use the free processor time sharing it equally with, say, Explorer. It will result in Explorer working jerkily… But if you set a lower priority for the rendering program, it will use only the time that Explorer does not need. Explorer will work more smoothly and faster. It is also convenient to set a higher priority for multimedia players so the playback will be smoother. I also always set a higher priority for Nero when burning a disc so that it doesn’t fail and I won’t waste a CDR and also when playing games.
You can change the priority of processes on the Processes tab of Task Manager. The problem is whenever you set a process priority, it will reset back to Normal when you restart Windows. Here is a simple way to save the process priority.
Prio (Process Priority Saver) is a compact program that allows you to save the priority you specify for any process. To save a process priority, start the Task Manager, right-click a process and select Set Priority. Set the priority you want for the process. Prio will save the applied changes and each time you start this process from now on, it will set the saved priority for it. You will not have to change the priority manually any more!
Other than that, it also enhances the standard Task Manager by adding useful tooltips containing detailed information about each running process: its name, manufacturer, version and full path to the executable file. It also shows which system services are currently running for svchost.exe. You would also notice that most of the process are highlighted in green. Those green processes are verified because it has a digital signature. For those that don’t have one, it’ll be highlighted in red. If you’re sure about the origin of a process while its executable file has no digital signature, you can mark is as valid using the “Treat As Valid” menu item and it will be highlighted in green.
Prio also adds Services and TCP/IP tab where you can view all installed system services with their statuses, start them, stop them and change the method they are started with. Prio uses the additional TCP/IP tab to display all established TCP connections and all open ports (TCP and UDP). Both statistical data (the number of sent and received bytes) and rate is shown for each connection.
Prio is free for personal use, it’s small and best part is you don’t need to keep it running as it installs a driver. I’ve only tested Prio on Windows XP and I am not sure if it will work on Vista. Another great alternative is ProcessTamer which allows you to manually adjust process priorities.