When it comes to task management, Windows OS has got you covered with Windows Task Manager. You can get rid of stubborn and stuck programs with the help of this genie instead of waiting for them to get responsive again which may take forever. Killing a stuck program with help of Windows Task Manager also beats the old “force restart” method which rather feels like holding a pillow over your PC’s face.
It can also be useful in other ways for example many people use it to monitor and diagnose performance issues and also to keep an eye on programs to see if there is any suspicious activity or whether a certain program is eating away too many of the PCs resources which are resulting in slowing it down.
So no doubt The Windows Task Manager is a very functional tool but unfortunately also a very basic one as it gets the job done on a necessary basis. It can monitor the tasks going on on your pc but can’t provide the kind of information needed to dig up small and underlying problems. Also when modern malware gets installed on your computer it attacks to damage, disable and corrupt your windows task manager so that it can have free reign on your pc. But to compensate for this gap in the market there are many other task managers which do the job much more thoroughly and despite that, they are still available for free. They have the ability and firepower to tackle modern and ever-changing malware.
All intent and purpose are to provide you with a bit more commanding position over the tasks and processes taking place in the background of your computer. They are also a tad bit more aggressive than the Windows Task Manager. Here are some of the most popular and useful ones discussed below.
Sysinternals Process Explorer is probably the most common substitute for Windows Task Manager. The main reason for its popularity is the bucket loads of information that it gives you. The detailed information is color coded and presented neatly into columns which is a blessing because there are so many details that this task manager digs out for you that only a neat and tidy format of display can make things easier to read.
You can monitor pretty much everything like CPU, GPU, memory, network, and any activity you can name with the Process Explorer.
It is easy to use, if you want to terminate a program simply right-click it and then click on kill process or press the Del key. You can also suspend/resume and restart a process.
Double click any entry in the list to get a Properties to window open which is full of information about most aspects of what the process is doing with its open threads, security details, network connections, performance activity, etc.
Yet Another (remote) Process Monitor (YAPM)
YAPM has a Microsoft Office-like interface that just looks welcoming to people who use Microsoft Office a lot. It certainly is a very capable alternative to Windows Task Manager because it not only manages your computer’s tasks but also monitors and analyzes them. It also provides you with the ability of remote monitoring and shutdown features which gives you extended control over your computer and is really cool.
For task killing YAPM offers a few advanced sets of methods that can be optionally ticked using the kill task method option in the menu. These methods prove to be useful in getting rid of stubborn or locked processes. YAPM also offers the web search option through which you can search the relevance, functionality, and dependence of a process. YAPM along with all the other functions also offers a separate hidden process viewer; which can be accessed by clicking the green shield in the quick access toolbar.
Aside from all the main functions of a task manager YAPM provides you with a few other functions such as TCP/UDP network monitoring and a control tab. You can also create services with the help of the Windows Service Creator option which allows you to make a service from a local or remote executable file.
Free Extended Task Manager
Free Extended Task Manager is, as the name suggests, pretty much the same as Windows Task Manager but it comes with a few additional features such as the ports tab which shows you the open network connections on the system through which you can see what programs are accessing the network.
You are also given a performance tab which includes a disk activity meter so that you can see what processes are reading/writing on the run time. The summary tab will give you a merged result of the performance and applications tab to help you in gauging the system activity.
Furthermore, the process tab provides you with the ability to filter out system or current user processes and each task can be frozen, resumed, or ended individually. Another feature offered by the Free Extended Task Manager is the “show locked files” option which can display a list of files that have a lock on the process.
Free Extended Task Manager with all its qualities, unfortunately, does come with a flaw and that is the lack of updates, or rather the complete absence of one since 2008 which means that it can’t run on windows 7 or above. But like always there is a simple solution to this problem and that is to run the program in compatibility mode. Simply go to the properties of the program to choose the compatibility tab and in the “Run this program in compatibility mode” tab, select the appropriate version of OS.
Process Hacker is somewhat similar to Process Explorer so if you are a Process Explorer lover but due for some reason can’t run it then this is the alternative for you. Process Hacker though has similar features to Process Explorer it brings a little bit more to the table.
The process list is color coordinated and in the service tab, there is advanced information available with the ability to stop, start and restart services. The network tab also uses colors to show opened and closed connections while the disk tab can tell you exactly what tasks are writing to or reading from the hard disk drive in real-time.
There is also a window dedicated to finding out which handles or DLLs are related to any process with the intent of closing any handles locking the file. Along with the ability to stop, start or suspend any process there are also advanced options present to find more about GDI handles and even the ability to introduce a DLL into the process or reduce its memory consumption to almost nothing. The miscellaneous context sub-menu has the terminator option too which is pretty good at killing tasks that are stubborn or stuck.
If you are not a fan of all those colorful and fancy layouts that Process hacker or Process explorer provide then DTaskManager is your way to go.
It has almost the same layout as the Windows Task Manager but in terms of functionality, it can offer so much more. The ability to select and kill multiple processes with the aid of shift or Ctrl-clicking makes it robust. When it comes to task and process termination in DTaskManager it isn’t just the question of killing it but in fact how you want to kill it. You have the ability to terminate a program in four different ways.
Firstly you can just End or Quit a process but if that doesn’t work and a process proves to be stubborn then you can force quit or even force quit while bypassing the process permissions and protections.
You can also suspend the tasks to temporarily free up the CPU, in addition to that you can also use the “Trim Ram usage” command which can come in handy while multitasking, as you don’t have to compromise between running out of time or running out of memory. You can also resume the suspended tasks once your PC is out of an emergency state.
Along with all the Applications, Processes, Network and Performance tabs, DTaskManager also offers the opened TCP/IP network ports tab, and the user/Kernel module tabs give you the opportunity to view the files being run inside the kernel space.
You also have the option to auto lower all the non-system processes to idle and an undocumented auto priority function in the Tools menu is also available.
The DTaskManager although being great, as one can tell by reading the details given above, comes with a problem of its own and that is the “error 5” popup on ‘some’ systems. Despite the update patch released in 2012 the annoying popup messages problem still persists on some PCs.