Quietly, last month Microsoft released one of the best troubleshooting tools you’ll ever come across — Process Monitor. It combines the features of Regmon and Filemon in one package, and lets you monitor the Registry, processes, and your file system. It’s this simple: You should get this software now.
First, download it for free. Extract, install, and run it. You’ll see every process, file, thread, and more currently live on your PC, with an extraordinary amount of information about each.
For example, it shows every query, read, and write to registry values, as well as read, write, query, close, and other kinds of activities related to files. In addition, it displays all process and thread activity.
Armed with this information you can track down any files that an application is creating or writing to…or looking for unsuccessfully. You can see relationships among programs and processes — which is executing which, for example.
There’s a lot more here as well; far more than I can cover in this blog. But given that it’s free, download it and give it a try.