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Five free task killers that are ready to end stubborn processes

There are stubborn cases when Task Manager simply won't kill a process, that is when you call in specialized apps that won't take no for an answer.

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 There are times when a process or program does not respond. The application window will remain on your desktop or residing in memory, but it just won't go away. When that happens, what do you do? In Windows, most will opt for Ctrl-Alt-Delete and then open the Task Manager. In most cases that works just fine - but there are stubborn cases when Task Manager simply won't kill a process. And what do you do about Android or Linux? Nearly every platform benefits from a solid process killer.

Fortunately there are plenty such applications available, ready to serve and kill those tasks you don't want hanging around. I have found five go-to tools for this job. Read on and find out if any of them meet your needs.

This article is also available as a TechRepublic Screenshot Gallery.

Five Apps

1. All-in-One Toolbox

All-in-One Toolbox (Android) is one of my favorite Android tools of this nature. It's not only fully capable of getting rid of processes residing in memory, it also does a great job of clearing caches. With a simple one-touch kill process, you can kill apps in accordance to their CPU, Memory, or Battery usage. This make for a powerful management tool to keep your Android device working at optimum performance. Extra features include: Call/SMS cleaner, SDCard Cleaner, Apk Cleaner, and App Leftover cleaner. The All-in-One Toolbox Dashboard gives you plenty of at-a-glance information on your Android device and how much RAM, ROM, and SD memory is in use.

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Also read: Identify and get detailed information about processes in Windows 7


2. Process Explorer

Process Explorer (Windows) is another fine tool created by Windows Sysinternals. There are plenty of reasons why Process Explorer improves on the Windows default - such as portable usage, full listing of processes, charts of usage (with significantly more information than the default applications), ability to change affinity and priority. One of my favorite features of Process Explorer is the ability to track down which file is being locked by a program. Process Explorer can also help you find out why a certain DLL or DOC file mysteriously cannot be deleted. Of all the available task manager like tools for the Windows platform, Process Explorer is, by far, the best in breed.

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3. Process Hacker

Process Hacker (Windows) takes Process Explorer and tosses a handful of even more advanced features in to create a power-user's dream machine of a task manager. With this tool you can customize the tree view to show you what is currently running. You can also view very detailed statistics with graphs, close network connections, and view/edit/control services not listed in the standard process listing.  The advanced features include: Viewing GDI handles and heaps, injecting and unloading DLLs, and detaching from debuggers. If you're an administrator who needs as much power at their fingertips as possible, and you want it in GUI form, you can't go wrong with Process hacker.

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4. Gnome System Monitor

Gnome System Monitor (Linux) is the default GNOME tool that serves as a GUI front-end for a number of tasks. Not only does this tool forcefully or gracefully kill applications and services, it also allows you to easily change the priority of an application, check memory maps for a program or service, monitor resources (CPU, memory and swap, and network), and even get instant information on the available storage on any mounted device and a tree view on process dependencies. Unlike having to use the command line tools (such as kill and killall), the Gnome System Monitor is a point and click solution to ending processes on a Linux system.

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5. Extended Task Manager

Extended Task Manager (Windows) takes the built-in Task Manager and adds a few, much-needed, features. You'll find a new Disk I/O chart which allows you to monitor which applications currently utilize most of your disk as well as more information about disk activity and network port usage. For those that find locked files a nuisance, Extended Task Manager allows you to locate a Windows process that has a specific file locked. With this information you can then close that process to remove the lock file (which has the added effect of allowing you to more easily stop processes/applications held hostage by lock files). The Extended Task Manager Summary tab gives you a quick view of the overall state of your Windows system.

You might find that, when running Extended Task Manager on Windows 7 you get ETML -9 errors. If that happens, run the application in Compatibility mode for Windows XP and all will be fine.

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Bottom line

There is no reason why you need to be put into a stranglehold by your system processes and applications. With the help of one of these applications, you can take control of your system and make sure it is not only running reliably, but running with optimal performance. Grab one of these tools and see if they don't give you the power to contain runaway and stubborn processes.


Also read:

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

4 comments
databaseben
databaseben

for me, any task that proves to be habitually stubborn or service that does not stay "disabled" are files and or programs that should be removed from the computer.

Craig_B
Craig_B

Windows: Command Prompt: Tasklist - Display running tasks, TaskKill - Kill tasks or use PSKill from Sysinternals.

Example:

Tasklist

Image Name                         PID      Session Name            Session#        Mem Usage
========================= ======== ================ =========== ============
notepad.exe                       3480          Console                    5                     6,076 K


TaskKill /PID 3480

or TaskKill /IM notepad.exe

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin moderator

What task has stubbornly refused to close on you lately? How did you get it to close? Did you use a task killer?