Free Process Monitoring and Management Utilities

Software to manage, monitor, kill, prioritize processes, threads, services and daemons


Free Process Monitoring and Management Software

The free programs listed on this page let you monitor the processes, threads, services, daemons, etc, on your system as well as manage them. (In layman's language, a "process" is a program that is currently running on a computer.) The programs usually allow you to kill a process (that is, terminate a program that is being executed), prioritize it, set an affinity (that is, on a system with multiple CPUs, such as a dual or quad core system, make the process be run by a specific CPU instead of letting the operating system decide for itself), track the resources that it is using (how much CPU time it is taking up, how often the process is being switched to, how much physical and virtual memory it is consuming, what files it is holding open, what shared libraries/DLLs it is loading) and so on. Very often, these programs do more than the default program (eg, Task Manager on Windows) that comes with your system.

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Free Task Managers, Process Monitors and Managers

Process Explorer (Windows)

Process Explorer, one of the Microsoft Sysinternals set of utilities, is a program that lets you discover more information about the processes and threads that are running on your system. The utility not only shows you statistics about the process, such as how much memory it is consuming, how much CPU time and task switches, but also the files that the program has opened and what DLLs it is using. You can also terminate errant processes, assign it priorities, set an affinity for the process (ie, force it to use only a particular CPU if you have a dual core, quad core or some other type of system with multiple CPUs), track which process is holding a particular file handle open (useful if you need to kill so that you can delete an undeletable file), etc. You can customize the program by setting what information it shows by default for each process, the information it displays in its lower panel (either the file handles it has open or the DLLs that it has loaded), the colours it uses to highlight different processes, etc. From its main window, you can also tell at a glance which processes has started other processes (and which processes they have invoked) since the processes are displayed in a tree.

Process Monitor (Windows)

Process Monitor, from Microsoft Sysinternals, is a superset of their Process Explorer tool (see elsewhere on this page for a description). It combines the process monitoring and management facilities of Process Explorer together with real-time file system and registry monitoring so that you can find out what the processes/threads are doing on your computer, in terms of usage of files and the registry. That is, you can find out which registry keys the program is accessing, what registry data it is reading or writing, which files it is opening, writing or reading and at which time, and so on.

Process Hacker (Windows)

Process Hacker lets you manipulate the processes and services on your system. It uses a kernel mode driver so that you can use it to terminate, suspend and resume even antivirus software and rootkits that protect themselves from termination. Other features include performance graphs and history, thread listing and stacks with dbghelp symbols, module and mapped file information, virtual memory map, environment variables and handles, detection of hidden processes, easy DLL injection and unloading, etc. The program requires the NET Framework.

Bill2's Process Manager

This program allows you to manage the priority of the processes on your system by setting rules (and back up those rules), set a process' affinity (ie, associate it with a specific processor), show graphs of the CPU utilization and memory usage, etc.

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