Task Manager for Windows is good for monitoring the health and performance of a Windows PC. It shows when things go wrong and may enable you to fix them. Here are better alternatives.
There are several free and paid alternatives to Windows Task Manager and some have more features that enable you to better manage and monitor what is running on the PC. Have you tried any? The could be just what you need.
Here are several Task Manager type applications and while some of them say you can completely replace the built in Windows tool and may have settings and menu options to do it, I would not recommend it. Use these tools instead of Task Manager, but do not try to replace it.
A good way to use these apps in Windows 10 is to run them, then right click the icon on the taskbar and select the option to pin it. Then they can be started with a single mouse click. If you cannot see the taskbar, tap the Windows key to show it.
There are a couple of issues with DTaskManager and one is that it has not been updated for a few years. The other is that it triggers a warning in Windows because it is unrecognised. I tested it with VirusTotal and 68 out of 70 antivirus programs said it was OK, so I skipped the warnings and ran it anyway.
The Applications tab shows visible programs with windows and the Processes tab shows everything, including things running in the background.
The advantage of DTaskManager is apparent when a process is right clicked and there are many more functions than Windows Task Manager. For example, the priority (how much CPU time it gets) can be set.It is possible to trim RAM usage, hide the window without closing the process, suspend and resume it, and three ways to end, quit or kill an errant process.
The Performance and Networking tabs are a bit like those we used to have in older versions of Windows. The Ports tab is interesting because it lists all the processes and shows which remote IP address they are accessing on the internet. It can be surprising seeing activity here and it makes you wonder what information is being sent out. It could be useful for tracking spyware, adware and so on.
One slight irritation is that it flashes when it refreshes its display. It is just clearing the window and rewriting it, but it is a bit annoying. It is free.
System Explorer is another old program and its main advantage over similar tools is that it classifies programs and processes according to their security status. It does this by querying an online database, but this part of the task manager does not work, probably due to the lack of updates.
The good news is that many of the other features work and the Processes tab shows everything that is running. Right clicking an item enables you to end it, restart it or suspend it. The priority level can be set, so you can raise it to make a program more responsive.
At the bottom of the window it shows processes, threads, handles, memory – cache and available. It also shows swap file usage and faults (high numbers mean a lot of disk activity because of insufficient memory).
The Performance tab is good and you can see overall process usage as well as individual cores, RAM and swap file usage, page faults, and other details. It is a shame the security feature no longer works because this could be a useful app and it is free.
MiTeC Task Manager DeLuxe
Task Manager Deluxe is another free app and unlike some of the others, this one was updated just two days ago. It is packed with features and the home screen shows all the running processes in a tree structure that shows processes started by processes.
Right clicking a process enables you to set the priority, terminate tasks, suspend or restart them. There is a useful option to send a process to the VirusTotal website and get a malware report on it, which makes this task manager useful for checking that processes you do not recognise are not malware.
In the top right corner of the window is a live display of various system resources and it shows the top processes, memory and CPU usage, and network usage, like upload and download speed to/from the internet.
There are several tabs dedicated to showing resource usage and Network shows the details on network traffic, Disk I/O shows disk reads and writes, and GPU shows the graphics card usage. Live scrolling charts are shown on each tab. The Performance tab is an excellent display of multiple resources like CPU usage, top CPU processes, CPU clock speed, GPU usage, a detailed breakdown of memory usage, and more.
This is a good utility that does a lot more than Windows Task Manager and is recommended.
Advanced Task Manager
Advanced Task Manager is not free, but you do get a 20-day free trial in which most features work. The trouble is, I could not find a way to pay for it, so I don’t know what will happen after 20 days. Maybe it will stop working, maybe it will carry on in a free mode.
The software has a retro look too it, but it looks good, it works well enough and it shows a lot of information. The Programs tab shows all the processes, but it lacks the range of options that the other tools provide by right clicking. At the top there are End Task, Quarantine and a few other buttons, but processes cannot be suspended, resumed, or have the priority changed.
The security rating column is an interesting and shows values from 0% to 100% and from red to green. I’m not convinced it is that useful, but it looks good. Select a process and a panel at the bottom shows a lot of details about the program and Advanced Task Manager could be useful for tracking down malware, spyware, adware and unwanted software.
The Performance tab has a useful display of CPU usage and history, and a list of the programs using the most memory. The upload and download speed can be seen and the Internet tab shows what IP addresses processes are accessing. The File Use tab lists process and when one is selected, it shows which files it has opened on the disk. This is all useful for security.
This utility is quite useful, but there are payment problems and I don’t even know the price. Maybe the app has been abandoned, which would be a shame because it’s OK.
Process Explorer is a free Microsoft utility and it is both up to date and excellent as you might expect. It starts with a view of the processes (windowed programs and things running in the background) and it shows a tree structure with processes and the processes they started. It gives a clearer view of what is running on the PC.
The app highlights some items in color and a color panel can be placed beside Process Explorer showing what the colors mean (it’s hard to remember). Colors can be changed, added or removed, so you can highlight just one type of process if you want. It makes it easier to find things.
Open the bottom panel and select a process to see comprehensive information about it, including files accessed, registry keys used and more. Right click a process and it can be killed, suspended or restarted, and the priority can be changed. If it has a window, it can be brought to the front or closed. The process can be searched online, which opens a browser and uses Bing, and it can be sent to VirusTotal to be checked for malware.
At the top roght of the toolbar are mini resource indicators and the live charts show CPU activity, memory used, disk activity and GPU usage. A larger window can be opened separately to show these.
Process Explorer is an excellent utility that goes beyond Windows Task Manager and is recommended.
Security Task Manager
Security Task Manager is a Task Manager alternative that is focused on security and identifying bad processes and programs running in Windows. I downloaded the free version, but paying $29 gets you some extra features.
It looks good and it lists running processes including or excluding system processes as you prefer. It is useful to hide standard Windows processes and focus on user-added software, some of which could be malware.
The security rating, shown in red in the window, is useful in some ways, but it is also pretty dumb. It has a set of rules and each one a process breaks, adds to its bad security rating. For example, if a program or process is running that does not show a window, that’s a red flag to Security Task Manager. However, many good, secure and safe apps do this.
I have screenshot software that runs in the background and it listens for key presses, hides its window, captures the screen and so on. It is flagged as potentially dangerous. It is not, but on the other hand, malware could do this. So long as you realise that not everything flagged as potentially dangerous is actually dangerous, Security Task Manager is a useful addition to your utility toolkit.