WinTasks 5 Professional

Reviewed by: William M. Frazier, October 2004, send e-mail
Published by: LIUtilities/Uniblue Systems Ltd., go to the web site
Requires: Windows 98/ME/2000 or XP, 400MHz or faster CPU, 32MB RAM, 5MB free hard disk space
MSRP: $49.95 (download), $59.95 (retail box)

Have you ever wondered what is happening with the programs running on your computer? We can all tell if our machine is running fast or slow. We also know when a once fast machine is slowing down. Unfortunately most of us don't have a clue as to why. WinTasks 5 Professional is a program designed to help you answer these questions.

My first impression was “Hey, this is just a glorified Windows Task Manager”. That description doesn't do justice to WinTasks 5 Professional. There is a lot more going on here than just the list of what’s running and the ability to end a task. The program allows you to identify and eliminate unwanted tasks, such as spyware and trojans. You can block a process from running or allow the computer to run only a list of processes you select. Performance enhancements include the ability to monitor CPU and memory usage, control process priorities, and the ability to view and change the programs that run when you first start the computer.

The main program window gives you a wealth of information. The very top of the window contains the usual menu selections and 18 buttons that control various program functions. Just below that is a list of all the processes running on the computer. For each process you have a list that shows the process name, the executable file and location of the process, its priority, the number of threads presently assigned to the process, the CPU and Memory usage, and the date and time the process started. The lower left portion of the window gives you the full name of the process and an explanation of what it does. The lower right portion of the screen is an area where you can enter and save personal notes about an individual process. Finally, the very bottom portion of the screen is devoted to stats showing the total number of running processes and total CPU and memory usage.

One of the things I like most about WinTasks is its ability to tell you what each running program and background process is supposed to do. For example, I've noticed the program alg.exe in the Windows Task Manager before. The user name listed is LOCAL SERVICE so I had no idea what this program’s purpose was or who wrote it. When the same program is examined with WinTasks Pro you find out that its name is Application Layer Gateway Service, a part of the Microsoft Windows operating system. You also find out that it is important for stable and secure running of your computer and should not be terminated. While it’s true that you could get most of this information from the program’s properties display in Windows, you would have to first find the file on your computer, select it, and then call up the properties window. With hidden files and directories this could be a tedious and time consuming process.

There are too many tools and options in this program to list them all in this review. The one I find most unusual but useful is the ability to locate and remove a program that has a fatal problem with memory leakage. If a program has a memory leakage problem, the program can run for hours without any noticeable difficulties. However, as the memory usage nears 50% or so, your system crashes. If you run multiple programs at once and your computer crashes after hours of use, it is difficult to find out which program might be suffering from a memory leak and causing the crash. WinTasks Pro makes solving this problem much easier. Simply open the Stats window, which shows a graph of CPU and Memory usage over a user defined time frame from 1 minute to 24 hours. As you cycle through the running processes you can easily identify the program that progressively consumes more and more memory. It won't help you fix the problem program, but you can identify it, stop it or remove it if necessary.

I guess the big question is whether or not this program is worth the money. I think the answer is yes. You gain an immense amount of control over your system with WinTasks 5 Professional. In fact, there is so much power that you could mess things up if you're not careful. Even with this slight drawback, I think WinTasks 5 Professional is a definite buy for the technically inclined. I plan to leave it on my system because of its ability to identify, locate and remove spyware and to also monitor the files that end up on my system’s Autostart list. Recommended.

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