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Is it possible to determine what (program) started a certain program (or a service)? I.e., how can I find the source of what's opening up certain programs on my Windows 7 machine?

This isn't so much a question about a certain problematic program. Rather, It would be extremely useful in troubleshooting to have a utility that could determine this.

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if the parent process is not died, you can use process explorer to show the process tree to find out it's parent process – LiuYan 刘研 Oct 15 '12 at 3:23
@LiuYan刘研: just to note, you posted that while I was composing my answer, and getting a screenshot. If you had posted that as an answer, I'd have simply have edited in the screenshot into your answer. – Journeyman Geek Oct 15 '12 at 3:28
@JourneymanGeek, never mind about that, i'm not going to steal your answer just because of my comment happened before your answer, it's your answer :) – LiuYan 刘研 Oct 15 '12 at 3:39
On the contrary, Had you posted, I wouldn't have, entirely honourably and accidentally stolen your answer. It would have popped up there was a new answer, I'd have checked and you would have gotten it. You obviously know what tool to use ;p – Journeyman Geek Oct 15 '12 at 4:39
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Process explorer should allow you to do that - processes are organised in a tree structure, and you can click on them to tell what's being accessed by various processes

enter image description here

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Crack open the command prompt and use Netstat with the -b switch. No need to download programs that junk your computer up when you have native tools at your disposal.

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er, netstat only tells you network connections, not processes and what spawned them – Journeyman Geek Oct 15 '12 at 4:38

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