I'm going to start a new occasional series of articles covering helpful software tools that I find. To start out this series, I'm going to focus today on FileMon from Sysinternals (now owned by Microsoft). Several of the tools I'll be profiling in the coming weeks are from SysInternals, so I recommend checking them out if you're unfamiliar with them.
FileMon allows you to see file system activity on your computer in real time. It helped me to track down the slow startup bug in Firefox, and it has also helped me track down other issues (particularly during various application startup periods). Wondering why your disk is randomly thrashing about for no apparent reason? FileMon will tell you why! After firing up this tool for the first time, I was simply amazed at how often the file system got touched in one way or another.
It should be noted that FileMon is now a legacy tool. A newer tool, by the name of Process Monitor has replaced FileMon. Although I haven't yet used it, Process Monitor looks very promising. Not only does it allow you to view file system activity, but you can also see Windows registry activity, as well as process, thread, and DLL activity, all in real time. These are very handy tools that every software developer or power computer user should know about. I'll highlight more like this in the coming weeks.