[Windows] Task Blocker monitors and automatically kills running processes and programs you specify

Task Blocker UIThe Windows Task Manager is an excellent tool. It allows you to see all running processes and services in one convenient app window. Sometimes, it isn’t quite what you need though. For example, you can kill running tasks through the window, but there are times when it doesn’t stop them from running altogether. In fact, there are many processes that will just automatically restart after you force close them. Task Blocker is a Windows application that takes care of that problem by preventing various processes from even running at all.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

Task Blocker runningTask Blocker is an open source Windows application that will prevent processes and tasks from running. It does require elevated access to use so in Windows Vista or higher you will have to run it with administrator rights. This application should not be used as another form of security, as it really isn’t meant to block malicious processes. Instead, it’s designed to help kill those running tasks that otherwise use valuable system resources- you know, the pesky ones.

Pros

  • Blocks pesky tasks or processes that otherwise refuse to remain inactive (aka kills tasks that don’t stop running)
  • Manual monitoring process, or automatically activated at app start
  • Has a portable version

Cons

  • Some processes take a little longer to terminate, this can be counteracted by enabling the realtime monitoring mode in the app settings
  • Requires admin rights to run properly in Windows Vista or higher, otherwise the application will force close
  • Requires .NET Framework (version unknown)

Discussion

Task Blocker stopped

It’s also worth noting that in Windows Vista if you do not run the program with administrator rights it will force close. To do this easily, you can right click on the Task Blocker icon and select ‘run as administrator’ from the context menu. To setup admin rights permanently when running the app, you have to right click on the icon and select ‘properties’,  and then under the ‘compatibility’ tab you have to tick the box next to ‘run this program as an administrator’.

The UI is clean and simple. The main listbox will display the names of any apps or processes that you have blocked. Obviously, when you start the application for the very first time the list will be empty. The top menu offers buttons to control the application and add processes to the list.

Task Blocker also adds an icon to the system tray. By default, the application windows is setup to display in the foreground at startup, but this option can be disabled. If it is disabled, then at startup the app will quietly run in the background until you call upon it.

Task Blocker add task

To add a task to the blocked list, you just have to press the little green plus icon. A submenu will open allowing you to manually enter a process, choose one from a file or directory, or choose from currently active processes. When choosing from the currently active processes you will be able to see the name of the task, it’s unique ID and a short description.

Once a task or process has been selected, you just click the ‘add’ button to submit it to the blocked list. When the related process starts running Task Blocker will automatically scoop it up and terminate it. Some processes are instantly blocked in this manner, but others take a little longer before Task Blocker terminates them.

There are two ways to start the monitoring process for blocked tasks. You can do so manually by using the play and stop commands in the Task Blocker window, or you can select ‘start monitoring on application start’ from the settings menu. Obviously, if the latter option is enabled then the application will begin monitoring for blocked apps right when it’s started.

Task Blocker preferencesTask Blocker also includes several different configuration settings, which can be accessed from the preferences menu. You can launch the app when Windows starts, enable or disable notifications for blocked processes, enable a monitor-only mode, and enable a real time check. The real time check option will ensure that Task Blocker kills monitored apps much faster, however it does use more resources.

You can also setup a log file, which will populate a specified document with information about blocked tasks and processes for viewing at a later time.

For reference, Task Blocker never uses more than 13MB of RAM while running.

Conclusion and download link

Task Blocker aboutTask Blocker is a relatively lightweight Windows application that will monitor running processes and automatically terminate any user-specified processes/programs that are running. It essentially runs in the background and kills any pesky tasks that refuse to remain inactive, which would otherwise take up valuable system resources. It’s not meant to be used for system security practices but rather for the purpose of killing stubborn programs or processes that automatically start themselves or refuse to close. Overall, if you want to kill off a pesky task or two that refuses to remain inoperative, this app will help.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.5.4923.14273

Supported OS: Windows (XP, Vista, Seven, Eight)

Download size: 365KB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/46

Is it portable? Yes

Task Blocker homepage

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15 comments

  1. GF

    [@jayesstee]

    > some other dotTechie can report?

    Task Blocker surely needs Net Framework.

    I have not Net Framework and I have tried the portable version of Task Blocker just now.
    I have got the error “The application failed to initialize properly (0xc0000135)”. I usually get that error from programs that need Net Framework.

  2. jayesstee

    [@Ashraf]
    I’ve downloaded Task Blocker, but I already had .NET Framework on my system, so I don’t know if it is a prerequisite.
    I don’t fancy (or know if could) trying removing .Net Framework to test.  
    Sorry, perhaps some other dotTechie can report?

  3. stilofilos

    I am using Bill2’s Process Manager for this purpose. It can also instantly kill processes on your command, but it also has an option to (kill and) restart them, which i find more elegant, and equally useful in some cases (like my Firefox and Google Earth frequently getting irresponsive and galopping for I still could not find out what dark reason…)

    I must be missing something here on the portability issue. How can a program be ‘portable’ if it needs that .net ? How do you use it on a computer that does not have (the needed version of) .net installed ?

  4. chump2010

    I can actually think of a good use for this program. This is for all your relatives that install updates and end up with lots of tasks that end up running.

    For instance, QTTask.exe – the annoying apple quick time startup task that is always running. Of course I could disable it if I had access to the machine, but failing that, I wonder if this would work. Just to kill a task that is always getting renewed/restarted by an update/install.

    It would run relatively silently, as opposed to Winpatrol which usually issues prompts to people. The autoruns of this world, you have to manually run and it can be a bit scarey if your unitiated….

  5. Ashraf
    Mr. Boss

    [@jayesstee]You are right, there is a portable version available of this program. One thing, though: Softpedia mentions the need for .NET Framework but the developer’s website says no such thing and Briley didn’t mention it (he typically is very good about pointing out such things). If you downloaded the portable version, can you confirm or deny that .NET Framework is needed?

    Thanks!

  6. Frank D

    [@GF] Sorry, I left out some of my thoughts.

    Thought 1: If there is a part of Windows running, am I knowledgeable enough that I should think to stop it? I don’t think so. It could have a negative effect.

    Thought 2: If there is a program or process that Windows did not start, but *I* did, why should I not just prevent that program or process from running in the first place, i.e., set it not to start from within the program, rather than stop it from running using an external program once it has started?

    Thought 3: There are a number of programs, such as Process Lasso, Process Hacker and Process Explorer (all have free versions) that allow you to stop programs from running, and also give you lots of information on what they are doing, how much memory and CPU time they are using, etc., and they also allow you to set a throttle on them, rather than to just stop them from running.

  7. GF

    [@Frank D]
    > I can’t think of any processes in Win7 that I would consider myself smart enough to prevent from running

    As far as I have understood, Task Blocker is not a software for Windows programs only.
    Task Blocker is for every program we dislike.
    If Charlie.exe by CharlieSoft continuously runs and bore us, we can put it into the blocked list of Task Blocker.

    Correct me if I am wrong.

  8. Frank D

    Hmm. Sounds like it could be useful, but I can’t think of any processes in Win7 that I would consider myself smart enough to prevent from running. It would be helpful if there could be some practical examples of some programs/tasks that one would want never to run themselves. Otherwise, I might inadvertently stop something that Windows needs to do and not be aware of the negative consequences until too late.