Because Windows is a multitasking operating system it has several ways to try and manage running processes and help make your computer run more smoothly. Besides Affinity which controls how many processor cores a program can run on, there’s also the priority at which a process runs, this gives the program a setting while running that tells it how high up in the queue it’s placed when asking for processing time.
For example, if you’re running a processor intensive task and it has a higher priority than your web browser, it’ll use all the CPU time and the browser will get what’s left over and run very slowly. If they have the same priority, the browser will work better but CPU usage will be shared so it still may be slow or jumpy. Give the intensive task a lower priority and it will only take the CPU time left over, speeding up the browser. Changing the priority of a process yourself is very easy, just right click on it in Task Manager and set it to the level you want.
This is still an issue on single and dual core computers because one process with a medium or high priority can bring the system to its knees by hogging all the CPU, even system tasks like Windows Update can do it from time to time. Tools like Process Lasso were developed to try and automatically juggle process priorities but they give very mixed results. The problem with changing the priority of a process in Task manager is as soon as the process is closed, the priority will be reset to its default level next time you run it.
Here we have 5 tools that allow you to save the priority of a process so you don’t have to keep adjusting it manually every time the process is started.
Prio is a very easy solution to this problem of Windows Task Manager not saving priorities because it’s actually an add on component for Task Manager itself giving it the ability to do just that. This means you don’t have another full blown program running in the background, only a Prio service exe consuming a tiny 384KB.
Making a permanent priority is simple and obviously done through Task Manager, simply right click and set the priority like you normally would. Then right click again and tick Save Priority which is a new option added by Prio. Prio also adds better tooltips, optional TCP/IP and enhanced Services tabs, integrity checks and a Silent Elevation option. It’s free for personal use and works on Windows 7 and below, it doesn’t work on Windows 8 or above.
2. Process Hacker
Process Hacker is a well known Task Manager replacement that has a number of advanced functions for handling tasks and processes, and like any task management tools, being able to adjust priorities is a standard part of that. The ability to save the priority for any given process was added to version 2.30 in early 2013.
To set the priority to be saved in Process Hacker, right click on the process, go to Priority and set the level you want to run from now on. Go back to to the same menu and enable the “Save for application.exe” option, then it will be remembered in future for *****.exe every time you run it (and Process Hacker is running). A portable version is also available. About 7MB is used while Process Hacker is in the system tray.
3. Process Tamer
This is a small process management utility that can automatically adjust the priority for running processes when they reach a certain level of CPU usage. However, you can easily turn this off and just set it to adjust process priorities based on what you select manually. Go to the Configuration tab and untick “Tame Applications Based on CPU Usage”.
Making Process Tamer remember a priority is easy, just click on the Explicit Rule drop down menu on the row of the process and select what you want it to be set at. Rules can be deleted or added manually from the Configuration tab. Memory usage is very low and only consumes around 1.5MB while in the background. Although the program is free it does require registration for a free key to stop popup nags.
4. Bill2’s Process Manager
This utility is a bit like Process Tamer in that it can automatically adjust process priorities based on their CPU usage, you can also turn this off and rely on your own settings by unticking the function in Options > Automatic priority. Bill2’s Process Manager works on the basis of rules and is quite a useful program to apply sets of rules to a specific application process while it’s running.
To apply a custom priority right click the chosen process entry and select “Create a rule for this process”, tick Set priority in the rules window and choose the priority you want to run from now on. Memory usage is quite high while Process Manager is in the background, around 20MB. This might be a bit much for lower end machines. A portable version is also available. The default language can easily be changed to English in the Options window.
5. System Explorer
System Explorer has a huge array of system information and control components, all accessible via a series of web browser type tabs. It’s like Task Manager on steroids. As Process Hacker, System Explorer also has the ability to save a given process priority and keep that setting when the program is launched in future.
Make sure you’re in the Processes tab and right click on the chosen process, hover over Process Priority and set the level you want to use. Go back to the same menu and tick Permanent to make the setting stick. While in the tray, System Explorer uses around 12MB of memory which isn’t that bad considering the amount of functions on offer. A portable version is also available.
Note: Antivirus and security software often cannot be tampered with if they have self protection on, which means you won’t be able to alter the priority. Also be careful and don’t touch priorities of system processes like svchost unless you really know what you’re doing, this could have unforeseen issues on general performance and other running tasks.