Software

Five good replacements for Windows Task Manager

Task Manager is a valuable tool for monitoring processes and terminating unruly applications-but there are some alternatives out there worth investigating.

Image: iStockphoto.com/VioNet

Task Manager can help you keep an eye on system processes, but it's not the only tool at your disposal. One of the apps on this list might work better for you.

The Windows Task Manager has long been a handy resource for monitoring running processes and for terminating applications that refuse to close through normal means. As helpful as the Windows Task Manager is, however, a number of other applications are available that can act as Task Manager replacements and perform various Task Manager related services. This article lists five such applications.

Note: This article is also available as a screenshot gallery.

1: Security Task Manager

Security Task Manager (Figure A) is probably the most unusual application on this list. Like other task managers, this one shows you the processes that are currently running on your system. But the thing that sets this application apart is that process information is displayed with an emphasis on security. Not only does the application provide a virus scanning link, but it assigns a security rating to each process to help you to determine which ones might be malicious.

Figure A

Right-clicking on a process opens a menu that lets you go to the process' folder. You can also Google the process, check it for viruses, comment on it, and view its properties. Commenting on a process allows you to flag it as being dangerous or safe and to add notes documenting your reasoning.

Security Task Manager sells for $29, but a free trial version is available for download.

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2: Task Manager Fix

Task Manager Fix (Figure B) is a free tool for repairing the Windows Task Manager. I considered not including this app on the list because it's not like the other apps and it doesn't exactly have what I would call a feature set. Even so, I think it does have its place.

Figure B

Over the years, I have encountered several malware infections that have disabled the Task Manager. Some malware attacks the Task Manager so the victim can't use it to terminate malware-related processes. This simple app repairs the Task Manager following such a situation. It contains one button. Clicking this button restores the Task Manager to a functional state.

3: AnVir Task Manager Pro

AnVir Task Manager Pro (Figure C) is a feature-rich Task Manager replacement. This utility provides tabs listing startup items, applications, processes, services, and log entries. Each tab includes filtering mechanisms that allow various entries to be displayed or hidden. On top of the usual Task Manager functionality, this tool allows you to edit the system startup, and it provides detailed information about the items listed. In fact, the application provides roughly two dozen columns you can opt to display or hide.

Figure C

AnVir Task Manager Pro sells for $49.95, but a free trial is available for download. There is also a free version of this app.

4: Remote Task Manager

Remote Task Manager (Figure D) is similar to the native Windows Task Manager, except that it is designed to manage tasks on remote systems. It provides information on applications, processes, services, devices, and events. It also allows applications to be launched on a remote system.

Figure D

Remote Task Manager sells for $40, but a free version is available for download.

5: Free Extended Task Manager

Free Extended Task Manager (Figure E) includes a series of tabs that list summary information, applications, processes, services, performance, networking, users, and port usage information. Pretty much all this information can be displayed by the built-in Windows tools, but it's handy to have all the information in one place. Like the native Task Manager, this tool can terminate processes and launch applications.

Figure E

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