[Windows] Manager startup programs and block running processes with Abylon APP-BLOCKER

2013-08-05_234425There was once a time when a startup manager was a unique program. Now, however, startup managers are dime a dozen. Abylon APP-BLOCKER is another startup manager that does more than just managing startup programs and processes. Let’s see if it is worth your time.

WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT DO

Main Functionality

Abylon APP-BLOCKER allows you to manage startup programs/processes, block running programs/processes, and manager Windows services.

Pros

  • Enable, disable, or remove programs/processes that automatically start at Windows boot (including support for cleaning startup folder and startup entries in the registry)
  • Block/unblock specific running programs/processes — this feature is intended to let APP-BLOCKER automatically kill running programs/processes that you block
  • Enable, disable, or remove Windows services
  • Works with 32-bit and 64-bit processes and programs

Cons

  • Buggy. Very buggy.
  • Cannot delay startup programs or processes
  • Terrible interface and is confusing to use
  • Cannot be minimized to system tray (which is a very important feature that should be supported by APP-BLOCKER since one of its features requires APP-BLOCKER to be “always on”)
  • Cannot start itself automatically at Windows boot (which is a very important feature that should be supported by APP-BLOCKER since one of its features is to block running programs/processes)

Discussion

2013-08-06_004942In terms of features APP-BLOCKER is fairly straightforward; it does three things, and three things only: manage startup entries, block running programs or processes, and manager Windows services. You would think a program that focuses on only a few features would be easy-to-use, right? Wrong.

APP-BLOCKER has an absolutely terrible interface… an interface that looks like it was designed in the early 90s. This interface makes APP-BLOCKER confusing to use. For example, you would know by looking at the interface that double-clicking any entry in the startup, running processes, or services lists disables the entry while double-clicking it again removes it. Nor would you know that the running processes list from which you block processes has all processes checked by default not because they will all be blocked but rather because they will not be blocked — you have to “gray out” the boxes to block running processes. Or at least I think that is how it works; I’m not entirely sure because the program sucks when it comes to user friendliness.

On top of that, as per my tests, APP-BLOCKER doesn’t work. At all.

I tested APP-BLOCKER by having it block a couple of running programs. I expected the programs to be immediately closed by APP-BLOCKER once I added them to the block list and enabled monitoring. Nope. Then I thought: okay, maybe APP-BLOCKER only blocks programs from running but does not close already running programs. So I made sure APP-BLOCKER’s blocking was enabled, closed the relevant programs, and then tried to open them again, expecting APP-BLOCKER to block them from running. Nope. Finally I thought maybe I was doing it wrong; maybe, in fact, you don’t block running processes by graying out the checkboxes but rather block running processes when their checkboxes are white. So I repeated the just-mentioned steps using this new theory. Still no cigar.

At that point I’m ready to do face-to-desk but, doing my due diligence, I went to test APP-BLOCKER’s other feature — managing startup entries. Long story short, it doesn’t work either: I used APP-BLOCKER to remove a couple of programs from startup but APP-BLOCKER did not actually stop them from running at startup… they still ran when I restarted my computer.

I tested APP-BLOCKER on Windows XP 32-bit, for those that are curious. XP 32-bit is listed as supported by APP-BLOCKER.

Aside from all that, there is another odd issue I ran into with APP-BLOCKER.

When I review programs, I prefer to download them directly from the developer’s website as opposed to other download sources like Softpedia or Download.com. I did the same with APP-BLOCKER. The only problem? Apparently the download from the developer’s website is corrupted. Every time I tried to download APP-BLOCKER (v2013.2, 19.1MB) from the developer’s website), I got an error message telling me the file is corrupted when I went to install. At first I thought maybe my internet connection was screwing with me and didn’t properly download the file, so I downloaded the file multiple times. Each time the same thing happened, and I made sure I had no connectivity or downloading issues.

Softpedia had the same corrupted APP-BLOCKER installer, but I was eventually able to download a non-corrupted APP-BLOCKER from Download.com (v2013, 16.2MB).

CONCLUSION AND DOWNLOAD LINK

Abylon APP-BLOCKER is a terrible program. Not only does it lack features found in other freeware and shareware programs — such as the ability to delay startup programs/processes and the ability to be minimized to system tray — but it has a terrible interface (which makes the program confusing to use) and is buggy. My recommendation? Save your time and effort, and stay away from this program.

Instead of Abylon APP-BLOCKER, there are multiple freeware programs you can use to get the same plus more functionality:

  • Task Blocker is a program that allows you to blacklist specific programs/processes, which are automatically killed by Task Blocker if they run
  • Autoruns is the most comprehensive startup manager you will find, allowing you to view and enable/disable more startup items than you thought existed on your computer (but Autoruns cannot delay startup programs)
  • WinPatrol is a program that has many features, including the ability to manage startup programs/processes and delay startup entries
  • Startup Delayer is a program specifically designed to allow you to delay startup entries

Grab any of the just-mentioned programs instead of APP-BLOCKER and you will be happy. Trust me.

Price: 19.95 euros

Version reviewed: 2013

Supported OS: Windows XP/Vista/Win7/Win8

Download size: 16.2MB

VirusTotal malware scan results: 0/46

Is it portable? No

Abylon APP-BLOCKER homepage

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3 comments

  1. Mikerman

    AnVir Task Manager (Standard version) available for free:

    I just checked and a promo being run on AnVir Task Manager is back again this month: a free, full copy of the Standard version of the program. Regularly costs $29.95.

    All one has to do is post on one’s Facebook page or blog a “mini-report” (500 characters or more–really, just 6-7 sentences or so) on how one uses AnVir Task Manager, include in it a link to the AnVir webpage, and make it publicly available; and then fill out a short form at the AnVir website, providing a link to the blurb.

    Here’s the promotion link: http://www.anvir.com/promo.htm. The offer is good for this month, August.

    I initially was concerned about what I assumed would be a review by AnVir of one’s post, to see if the post “qualifies.” However, the process is entirely automated: as soon as I sent the required form info. at the AnVir website, I received, on a new webpage that opened up immediately, a link for the software download, as well as a registration name and key; there seems to be no (or only automated) review. And to those who complain about having to post something on their Facebook page or blog, one could, of course, delete the blurb thereafter (unless AnVir verifies after-the-fact).

    All-in-all, a good (and fair) offer. Recommended.

  2. Mikerman

    “Abylon APP-BLOCKER is a terrible program.” No, come on, Ashraf, tell us how you really feel. ;^)

    My uneducated favorite for years has been AnVir Task Manager (when it’s been available for free, of course). It’s fairly well-behaved, provides scads of information, intercepts nicely, allows for delayed program start-ups, and has some extras I love: system tray icons showing memory, CPU, disk, and network usage; and a memory manager that clears out and frees your memory periodically (set by default for every 15 minutes)–think CleanMem. Recommended.