One of the more advanced ways to improve performance in Windows 10 is to change the process priority of your key processes. It’s simple enough to do, but it’s a little tough not to make a mistake.
What is the definition of process priority? Should you make any modifications to it? And, with Windows 10, how do you actually set the process priority? All of these questions will be answered in this tutorial.
What Is Process Priority and Why Is It Important?
Computers do not have the ability to multitask. Not at all. When your operating system runs many programs (or just background services) at the same time, it’s known as juggling.
Even on multi-core computers, there is a limit to how many threads may execute at once, therefore budgeting processor time is critical. To keep up the appearance of running in real time, your computer must pick which tasks to prioritize, resulting in a priority system.
The ‘importance’ of each process is referred to as process priority. Tasks that are critical to your computer’s proper operation (primarily system processes) are given a higher priority than a program running on top. This ensures that your PC’s essential capabilities are not harmed even when it is under maximum strain.
What Are the Process Priority Levels?
Multiple different degrees of process priority are defined. This, like a ranking system, lists processes in order of significance from top to bottom.
In Windows, there are six different priority levels. Only five of these are intended to be set by software (or users, for that matter).
- Normal is, well, the ‘normal’ priority level. Most applications run at this level.
- Below normal is the priority level just below normal. Processes on this level are allocated fewer resources than normal applications. Best suited for unimportant tasks with no time constraints.
- Low is the lowest priority level in Windows. Tasks operating at this level are given resources only after all other processes have completed their current tasks.
- Above normal is the next higher priority level after normal. Use this for processes that need a little boost but don’t need to upstage system processes.
- High is a priority level used by important system processes necessary for the smooth functioning of the computer. Not recommended for user applications.
- Realtime is the highest possible priority level in Windows. Basically, tasks on this level run in real-time, at the expense of any and every other process. For this reason, this level is only reserved for hardware interfacing processes. Running applications on this priority level can easily crash your computer.
The only two priority levels you should utilize for routine chores are normal and above normal. Higher priority levels should be reserved for system processes, whereas lower priority levels should be reserved for minor background chores.
What Is the Effect of Setting the Priority of a Task?
Setting a process’s priority changes its position in the processing queue. Prioritized tasks receive priority in the allocation of system resources such as CPU time and memory, allowing them to perform faster.
On the other hand, pushing too many jobs to a higher priority level defeats the whole point of having a hierarchy in the first place. How does the operating system tell which processes are genuinely vital if every process is running at High?
If too many non-essential processes are elevated to higher priority levels, your computer may begin to freeze or crash. As a result, in the vast majority of circumstances, leaving the process priority alone is the best option. Even if you do change the process priority, keep the modifications minor and only apply them to one or two processes at a time.
How to Set Process Priority in Task Manager in Windows 10
While there are multiple ways to set process priority in Windows, the easiest method is to use the Task Manager.
- Open Task Manager by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+Del or by right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting Task Manager from the menu that appears.
- When you initially start the Task Manager, you’ll see a stripped-down window with only the currently active applications. To see the entire picture, select More information.
- You may now see a complete list of all the programs that are currently executing on your computer, including background tasks. They are listed by memory use by default; you can modify the sorting by selecting any other category from the top.
- Switch to the Details tab after selecting the process you wish to adjust the priority of.
- The status and other technical details of the ongoing process are displayed in Details. Many sub-processes that aren’t shown on the main screen are visible here.
- Navigate to Set priority by right-clicking on the process you want to prioritize. This brings up a sub-menu with all of the priority levels listed. Select the desired setting (in this case, below usual).
- You’ll get a message asking if you want to adjust the priority of the selected process. To make the change, select Change priority.
This will immediately change the process’s priority. For the remainder of the current session, the process will operate at this priority level. The priority level will be reset to its default if you restart your computer (or just the process).
Should You Change the Priority of a Process?
We’ve seen how simple it is to adjust a process’ priority level in Windows 10’s Task Manager. This may lead you to wonder: why not raise the priority of all currently running applications? Isn’t it true that improving performance is always a good thing?
However, you should not do so. There’s a reason there are different priority levels in the first place, and putting every operating process in the High category will only lead to system instability and disputes.
At most, you should enhance one process at a time, and only to the level of Above normal. This offers it a boost without endangering the computer’s functionality. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t tamper with process priority at all, instead relying on built-in features like Game Mode to increase the performance of resource-intensive apps.