Easily identify services running inside Windows XP's processes

When you're troubleshooting in Windows XP, you can spend a lot of time deciphering the often cryptic names of the programs and processes running on a system. Here's a timesaving trick that shows you how to use the TaskList command to identify which processes are hosting services.

Most Windows XP admins start their troubleshooting process by launching Windows Task Manager and selecting the Processes tab in order to gather information about the programs and processes that are currently running on a system. While some of the running processes are easy to identify (especially if they directly represent an application), other processes can be puzzling to identify (especially if they represent services).

For instance, when you look at the list of processes displayed in the panel, you'll probably find multiple processes listed as Svchost.exe, which is a generic host process name for services that run from dynamic-link libraries (DLLs). In addition, you may find other similarly named processes that actually represent services.

You can easily identify the processes that are hosting services by utilizing Windows XP's TaskList command-line tool and the ModualName switch to create an easy to read report. Here's how:

1. Open a Command Prompt window.
2. Type the following command and press [Enter]:
tasklist /m > tasklist.rtf
3. Launch your word processing program, load the tasklist.rtf document, and investigate the nicely formatted report.