Friday, February 13, 2009

Top 5 alternatives to Windows Task Manager

The Windows Task Manager is the tool that comes up when we give the famous three-finger salute (Ctrl+Alt+Del) to end a troublesome process or application. In the old days, it used to reboot the computer but in modern Windows system it brings up a more useful Task Manager. The task manager allows us to monitor running programs, processes, or threads and kill them if the need arise. The task manager is indispensible when you are troubleshooting any application. So why not look at some better tools that help us to get more information about the processes?

1. Process Explorer: This is the most popular replacement to the Windows Task Manager. Ask anybody and this is first tool they would recommend to you. Process Explorer is a free program created by Sysinternals (and later acquired by Microsoft) which is a great tool for system monitoring and debugging software.


The Process Explorer display consists of two sub-windows. The top window always shows a list of the currently active processes, including the names of their owning accounts, whereas the information displayed in the bottom window depends on the mode that Process Explorer is in: if it is in handle mode you'll see the handles that the process selected in the top window has opened; if Process Explorer is in DLL mode you'll see the DLLs and memory-mapped files that the process has loaded. Process Explorer also has a powerful search capability that will quickly show you which processes have particular handles opened or DLLs loaded. Unlike Task Manager, Process Explorer can even show which thread is using the CPU.

2. DTaskManager is another good Task Manager replacement with an interface similar to Windows Task Manager but with lots of additional functionalities. Here is brief description from the publisher:


  • Three different ways to close a process, as the "termination request", the standard "forced termination" with dialogue tolerance, and the "forced termination" of any type of process, bypassing all permissions (it can also terminate running system processes).
  • DTaskManager allows you to suspend and reactivate a process (as in Linux). This is useful, for example, to temporarily suspend a task that uses system resources when you don't want to terminate it (such as a DivX encoding process).
  • DTaskManager allows you to select more than one process at a time, and terminate all of them "simultaneously".

3. MKN TaskExplorer is an advanced process management tool that shows detailed information about each process, including performance and memory graphs, DLLs loaded, threads, and access token. It also shows the information about the handles opened by a process and provides a function to read processes' virtual memory.


TaskExplorer provides a function to stop and resume the execution of processes. There is an option where you can even force a process out of the physical memory. It can also stop, resume and terminate single threads in processes and can create a stack trace for each threads, which can be helpful for debugging purposes.

4. Free Extended Task Manager is an application that upgrades Windows existing Task Manager with new functionalities and features.

  • The new "Disk I/O" chart allows you to monitor which applications utilize most of your disk at the moment.
  • The network port monitoring feature allows you to see who is connected to your computer and from which IP address, and who you are connecting to.
  • It features another useful ability to locate Windows processes that lock a specific file. For example if you are unable to delete or rename a file, you can quickly find how it is used and possibly exit or kill the application that locks it.
  • It adds a new tab called "Summary" that allows you to quickly assess the overall state of the Windows system
  • It allows freezing individual Windows processes


5. AnVir Task Manager is more than a task manager – it’s a Swiss-army knife for your operating system that allow you to control, optimize and defend all the processes that occur on your PC. It includes a process and startup manager, spyware removal tool, performance tweaker, processes, services and DLLs, drivers manager.


From the system tray, you can view CPU usage and disk load, quickly access the last launched programs, change process priority or permanently block undesired processes. It’s a good program but with a horribly cluttered interface which has almost ruined this application. If we could only tone down it’s interface and the colors this would have been a fine tool.

Also checkout, Daphne – The task manager with mouse control.


  1. System Explorer too deserves to be in that comes with a couple of handy features like the ability to upload any process to

  2. You are right. System Explorer does look good.


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