Wait Chain Traversal feature in Windows 10/8/7

Wait Chain Traversal is a feature that was introduced in Windows 7. It is a tool that lets you identify the actual process that is resulting in a hung or frozen application. Windows 8/10 goes a step further and lets you analyze Wait Chain right from the Windows 10 Task Manager itself. My colleague Shyam had briefly touched on the Wait Chain Traversal (WCT) feature, which allows debuggers to diagnose application hangs and deadlocks while talking about the features of Windows Task Manager. Today, let’s see it in a little more detail.

Wait Chain Traversal

In Windows 7, the Resource Monitor offers the ability to analyze Wait Chain. Run resmon to open the Resource Monitor. Identify the hung or suspended process ib the Overview or CPU tab and right-click on it. In the context menu, you will see Analyze Wait Chain.

Wait Chain Traversal

Windows 10/8 now allows you to analyze wait chain right from the Windows Task Manager itself, apart from the Resource Monitor. Open your Task Manager and identify the hung or frozen process. Right-click on it and select Analyze wait chain in the context menu.

Wait Chain Traversal windows 8

Analyze Wait Chain

The Analyze Wait Chain tree shows which processes or open nodes in a tree are using or waiting to use a resource used by another process or child nodes in the tree, and is required for the selected process to continue. Wait Chain Traversal (WCT) enables Windows debuggers to diagnose application hangs and deadlocks. You can read more about it on TechNet.

Once you open the Overview or CPU tabs, you’ll find the list of running processes. If a process is “stuck”, it’ll be highlighted with red text, “Not responding”. You can right-click on the process, and assign a new task including ending of the process.


Kill Not responding, hung, frozen process

If you select Analyze Wait Chain, you will see a list of processes and the process tree associated with it. You may also get to see a message – xyz.exe process is waiting for another process (abc.exe), to give an example. If you have opened the Task Manager as an administrator, you will be able to see many more processes. If you’re running Windows as an administrator, the Task Manager will already be elevated by default in Windows 8.  The following figure just shows how the box looks. None of my processes were hanging long enough for me to get its Wait Tree.


You may now wait or choose to kill the process, but remember when you kill any process, if it is a system process, and other function dependant on it may also crash, so you have to be careful here.

Incidentally, Process Hacker will also help you find out which of your process freezes. So will What is Hang. This utility tries to detect the software or process that is currently hung, and displays some information that may allow you to sort out and understand what exactly is at the root of such freezing.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

One Comment

  1. L p

    I do realize this is an old post but I could use some feedback: Neither the resource monitor or task manager installed on my Windows 8.1 laptop allow me to see anything but the most basic thread which doesn’t help at all. This even though I’m using the monitors as “administrator”. Is there another option available that would fully expose the processes? Firefox for one thing only shows one tab label for each window rather than each open tab/window process. It would be very helpful if I could even just identify which open tab/window is actually causing the problem. That would help me track down the culprit.

    I really need to know what is causing my Firefox browser (it doesn’t matter which version I’m using; I’ve tried versions 45 to 50) to constantly hang or crash. CPU resources are going to 100% with half from the browser and have from service host local system. I was able to identify DRM.exe as the culprit a few times but more often it just says wait chain and some incomprehensible number. Not helpful at all. I will welcome any advice.

    Starting FF in safe mode doesn’t cure the problem so it isn’t likely any of the extensions/add ons. It also hangs and crashes on my android devices, even when I have no addons installed, and again, it doesn’t matter which version I’m using. I really like FF, some of their extensions are extremely useful for me and I like being able to save entire web pages that I can easily pull up instead of opening a browser online, or opening a cluttered file full of the site’s bits and pieces .

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