ProcessScanner & Review

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, February 2008
Published by: Uniblue Systems Ltd.
Requires: Any Windows PC running a W3C-compliant web browser in Windows 95, 98, Me, 2000, XP or Vista
MSRP: Free

ProcessScanner is really a two-part deal: the ProcessScanner system process analysis utility, and the web site which contains a Windows operating system and program compendium of all of the known background, low level, mid level and high level legitimate, illegitimate and malware programs. ProcessScanner and are a utility and web site for listing, analyzing and identifying all Windows system processes.

First, a definition (from Wikipedia). "In general, a computer system process consists of, or is said to own, the following resources:

  • An image of the executable machine code associated with a program.
  • Memory (typically some region of virtual memory) which includes the executable code, process-specific input and output data, a call stack to keep track of active subroutines and/or other events, and a heap to hold intermediate computation data generated during run time.
  • Operating system descriptors of resources that are allocated to the process, such as handles, data sources and sinks.
  • Security attributes, such as the process owner and its set of permissions (allowable operations).
  • Processor state (context), such as the content of registers, physical memory addressing, etc. The state is typically stored in computer registers when the process is executing, and in memory otherwise. The operating system holds most of this information about active processes in data structures called process control blocks (PCB)."


What this all means to nubs like you and me is simply that a) when processes fail to operate properly, bad things happen including system slowdowns and crashes, b) it makes sense that a bit of malicious software in the form of a virus, trojan horse, robot or spyware, could install itself as a system process, c) because many processes are really child programs in their own right, any parent program which is shut down or uninstalled and which leaves its process behind, still running, can waste processor time and suck up some RAM needlessly, and d) too many legitimate processes running for no reason (e.g., scheduled tasks you no longer need, scans that aren't needed, quick start utilities for Office-type software that are completely unnecessary in this day and age of fast processors and fast hard drives), can slow your Windows PC to a crawl.

Windows, and to a lesser extent the Mac OS X and Linux operating systems, can sometimes be very cluttered places in which to do constructive work. Because of all the issues mentioned in the previous paragraph, it makes sense to periodically scan your system for processes which either shouldn't be there or which may be legitimate but useless to you. That's where ProcessScanner comes in.

Let's lay some brief ground rules. Software developers and publishers are generally nice people. I've met hundreds, if not thousands of them, over the years. The problem for you and me is that they're not personally invested in your specific home and business computing. All software developers believe to one extent or another that their software is good for you and that anything required by their software to run in the background, however rarely needed, and which has the potential to make their software run better, is a good thing. The collective attitude can result in a multitude of background processes, all of which are supposed to be discrete, and all of which have been written by programmers with widely varying skills and acumen. In practical applications at home or in a business of some sort, background processes each running their respective marathons, including the viral 'ringers' masquerading as legitimate citizens, can occasionally turn a technically speedy Windows PC into a plodding disaster. Once again, that's where ProcessScanner comes in.

ProcessScanner is a simple product which roots around in every corner of Windows RAM and the Windows Registry, looks at all the process control blocks, and then presents you with a list of running and non-running processes which includes the physical file name, product name, status, memory usage and a recommendation for each process about whether or not it should be scanned for errors, malware or some other problem. Left-click any process listed and your browser will launch and display the relevant information page on for that particular process.

The information provided at is excellent and includes an exact description of the process, its publisher or owner if known, file details (location on your hard drive, size, version number, checksum), a security risk rating and a popularity rating. You can immediately identify a process in order to determine if and how it is related to something installed on your PC. If tells you that a particular process may be malware or dangerous, you can do some additional digging in Windows to double-check and then make a decision about turning off, uninstalling, or in some cases using tools found in most security suite software to root out the offending process and its related files and data. Sad to say, there's lots of bad stuff out there and it's a wise computer user who does regular system scans, antivirus and anti-spyware program updates and system backups in order to stay ahead of the wolves.

Cons: ProcessScanner is just that—a scanner. Once it identifies all of the processes on your PC and presents you with the detailed list, that's it. There are no process control tools for stopping, starting or pausing services, so ProcessScanner's use as a technician's tool is limited. If Uniblue doesn't sell a lot of its other retail software, free services like ProcessScanner and will go away. That would be a shame because this is all a genuinely useful and popular service.

Pros: ProcessScanner and provide an invaluable service. Uniblue Systems has for several years done an admirable job of maintaining accurate records of all known malicious, friendly and benign system processes running on Windows PCs. Processes are organized on the site into logical groupings underneath a robust and speedy search engine which helps you identify all background processes running in all modern versions of Windows. The ProcessScanner local utility is a terrific computer handyman's tool for home, SOHO and small business computer owners and managers. ProcessScanner provides more than enough analytical detail to earn a valued place in a computer service technician's tool kit. Highly recommended.

KSN Product Rating:



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