The Windows Task Manager is one of the very useful tools included in all versions of Windows, like Regedit and Command Prompt etc. When an application crashes or freezes and you can’t even close it, you can use the Task Manager to close the application end the process. It’s also used extensively by users to monitor and diagnose when programs are consuming too much memory or degrading the computers performance because by eating up all the CPU cycles.
Task Manager can also help tell you if there are suspicious programs running in the background which shouldn’t be there. Modern malware will often try to disable Task Manager from running because it’s such an effective and easy way of killing the malicious process. Although the standard Windows Task Manager is an effective tool, it sometimes doesn’t provide you with enough information or power to monitor and kill tasks effectively, there are third party task manager tools around that do though.
The useful thing about the Windows Task Manager is the convenience in launching it because there are several different methods you can use to open it up:
1. Right click the taskbar and select Task Manager.
2. Simultaneously press CTRL + SHIFT + ESC
3. Simultaneously press CTRL + ALT + DEL to bring up Windows Security and click Task Manager
4. Simply go to Run or Search and type taskmgr
Have you ever wondered whether it’s possible to use the above methods to launch a third party Task Manager program instead of the default Windows one? Well, in fact it is possible and a lot easier than you probably thought. Many of the third party replacement tools around today have the ability to replace the Windows Task Manager and all the ways you open it. Here are 7 third party task managers that you can use to replace the default Windows Task Manager. All have a built in function to replace Windows Task Manager either from a menu or options window.
1. Process Explorer
Sysinternals Process Explorer is perhaps the most well known Task Manager replacement around. What makes Process Explorer so popular is the sheer amount of information it gives you about a process while still being quite easy to use. You get a highly configurable color coded display to make things easier to read and there are literally hundreds of different columns that can be shown in the main window. Several monitoring graphs are on hand to show things likes CPU, memory, disk, network and GPU activity.
To terminate a process simply right click and select Kill Process or press the Del key, you can also suspend/resume and restart, while the search online option will open a Google search for the process name. Double click the entry to get a Properties window full of information about most aspects of what the process is doing with its open threads, network connections, security details, performance activity etc.
An optional lower pane can also be opened which will show what DLL files and handles are currently locking the the process and can be closed to help release it. While Process Explorer might not have the more advanced task killing functions of some other tools, it does often have enough for most users needs while being light on resources, portable and constantly updated. The replace Task Manager function is in the Options menu.
2. AnVir Task Manager Free
The free version of Anvir Task Manager has a few features missing compared to the shareware versions such as blocking processes, running programs as services, saving priorities and temperature/SSD monitoring. It’s still quite a feature rich utility though and has a number of useful options including extensive views and control over Startup items, a comprehensive system tweaking tool and even the ability to create a HijackThis log file which you can upload to one of the HJT online log file analyzers.
A process can be killed, restarted or suspended with additional options to free up its memory, search for its reference in Google or check online at VirusTotal. Double clicking on a process will bring up the detailed information view which gives you a quick security assessment and general process details, dll modules and files opened by the program, process performance for CPU, memory, disk and network activity and all open network connections and drivers.
The Services tab can be used to monitor, start, stop, delete and change the startup type of a service while the log window will record all process driven events. Hidden processes can be shown from the View menu. Watch out for adware in the installer version and also some ads for Uniblue software in the Options menu. The replace Task Manager setting is in Tools -> Options -> Properties.
Giveaway Note: Back in 2012, Raymond.cc hosted an exclusive giveaway for the Standard version of Anvir Task Manager 6.5.0 worth $29.95. Although there is no free update support anymore, the program still works perfectly fine and you get the added features in the standard version such as memory optimizer, descriptions for autoruns and services, and hardware monitoring functions. Simply download version 6.5.0 of Anvir Task Manager Standard and install it, watch out for the adware. Make sure to turn off check for updates as they aren’t free anymore, and register the program with the below details from the Help menu.
3. System Explorer
Users could be forgiven for thinking System Explorer was a web browser on first run because of its orange Firefox menu button and Chrome like tabs. Although it doesn’t have the more advanced options to end tasks that some other tools do, System Explorer is a much more complete all round process and system monitoring and management utility. It also contains a basic security scanner that can compare the running processes to an online database of over 17 million known entries and will offer to scan open processes on first run.
The process management tab has the standard options to end, suspend or restart a task with the option of sending it to VirusTotal or Jotti for a virus scan and searching Google or the online database. You can also set the processor core affinity and the process priority but with the added ability of making each setting permanent for every time the process is running. There’s also a “Processes memory usage cleanup” option in Menu -> System Utilities which drops the in use memory for all running processes.
The real power behind System Explorer is the huge amount of tabs you can display which can be added using add tab button. In addition to the Tasks, Processes and Performance tabs, you also get process/network/event/file history logging, dll modules, network connection/adapter monitoring, opened windows/files, Autoruns, Drivers and Services monitoring/control, WMI browser, before and after snapshots for files and registry, software uninstaller, Users, system security details and additional system information. Portable and installer versions are available and the replace Task Manager setting is in General Options.