When it comes to the Windows System tray, I like to have items displayed that I absolutely need. One item that I usually keep minimized in the tray is the capability to view hard drive activity using Sysinternals Process Explorer.
When minimized, Process Explorer displays the current hard drive disk activity (I/O) by identifying the process and the amount of read and write bytes (displayed in Kilo Bytes) written or read from disk.
Having this minimized in the System tray is useful when you have a lot of hard drive activity occurring and you want to identify the cause of what is slowing down Windows.
To enable this view in the System tray, download Process Explorer from Microsoft's Technet site.
Once you have downloaded Process Explorer, unzip it then double click on the procexp.exe file.
Then from the menu, click on Options \ Tray Icons and select I/O History.
Also, make sure Options \ Hide When Minimized is selected with a check mark (this will minimize Process Explorer to the System Tray instead of the Taskbar).
Now when you minimize Process Explorer, an active I/O graph will display current disk activity history. When you move your mouse over it, a pop up will display the stats (Read, Write, Other) in Kilo Bytes of the current process causing disk activity at that point in the graph.
If you want to view activity from several minutes ago, just right click on the graph, and select System information. This window will display several graphs, including process, memory (Physical and Commit) and I/O bytes.
As with the graph in the System tray, moving your mouse will display each process, the amount of bytes and the time the disk activity occurred.
Depending on the size of the System information window, you can view a longer time line in the graph to about 10 mins worth of history time, by maximizing the Window.
If you want Process Explorer to run when Windows starts up, just create a shortcut to the procexp.exe file and copy it to your user profile startup folder.
As you can see, Process Explorer is a much more powerfull tool than Windows Task Manager and can make better use of your Windows System tray.