Today a dotTechie posted an interesting comment:
Ashraf, as I read your review, something tickled a few neurons regarding your usage of WinPatrol as an alternative. I did a little research, and low and behold, in your “Prevention, detection, and cure: 9 programs…”  article you recommend WinPatrol  for use as a System Monitor, and mention AnVir Task Manager  as an alternative. Are you now reversing that prior decision by choosing AvVir over WinPatrol?
This comment got me thinking Aesar, the author of the comment, is right: I seem to have double standards when it comes to recommending WinPatrol or AnVir Task Manager. Therefore I decided I should create this post to clear my name and clarify the differences between WinPatrol and AnVir Task Manager and why I seem to be recommending WinPatrol in one post and AnVir Task Manager in another.
Before I begin, though, let me clear up the confusion on the different editions of AnVir Task Manager. You see there are four editions a user can attain of AnVir Task Manager:
- AnVir Task Manager Free
- AnVir Task Manager
- AnVir Task Manager Pro
- [AnVir] Security Suite
AnVir Task Manager Free is the freeware version which is available to anyone that visit’s AnVir.com. AnVir Task Manager, AnVir Task Manager Pro, and [AnVir] Security Suites are shareware editions you have to pay for. The differences between all four editions are shown by this chart:
That being said, WinPatrol also has a couple of different editions:
- WinPatrol Free
- WinPatrol ToGo
- WinPatrol Plus
WinPatrol Free and WinPatrol ToGo are both freeware versions; WinPatrol Free is the one you install on your computer while WinPatrol ToGo is a portable version with limited functionality. WinPatrol Plus is the paid version which comes with two extra features. This chart illustrates the differences between all three WinPatrol editions:
For the purposes of this post, I will be discussing WinPatrol Free vs AnVir Task Manager since they are the “highest” editions of both software a user can get for free.
As I informed Aesar, WinPatrol and AnVir Task Manager as two beasts of different nature yet have some similar characteristics. For example, both WinPatrol and AnVir Task Manager:
- Monitor startup/autorun programs and notify the user if a new startup program has been added.
- Monitor Windows services and notify the user if a non-Microsoft service has been added.
- Monitor Internet Explorer’s homepage and inform the user if a program tries to change IE’s homepage.
- Monitor Internet Explorer addons, BHQs, toolbars, etc. and inform the user if a new one has been added.
- Monitor current running processes and allow the user to kill each one if desired (AnVir Task Manager’s list is more detailed though).
- Control startup programs.
- Delay startup programs.
- “Auto-block” startup programs that continually add themselves to the startup list even though you blocked them the first time.
- Allow you to generate a “HiJack This” log (WinPatrol’s log, however, contains details on more topics).
***Note: AnVir Task Manager instantly alerts you of changes while WinPatrol “sniffs” the computer every X minutes for changes (you need WinPatrol Pro for real-time sniffing).***
However, after that the similarities are limited and each program starts filling a niche different than the other.
WinPatrol, for example, going the path of being more of a “security” or “system monitor” software because it monitors system file types, scheduled tasks list, and ActiveX list. WinPatrol also allows you to selectively block IE or Firefox cookies, alerts you to changes of Windows HOST File, look at the recently launched or used programs, and delete files after reboot.
On the other hand, while AnVir Task Manager does have a security audit-and-report feature and a button to scan any file via VirusTotal.com, AnVir Task Manager focuses more on becoming a multifunction Windows Task Manager replacement. AnVir Task Manager reports computer resource usage (CPU and RAM), disk load, and network bandwidth usage. With AnVir Task Manager you have the ability to get detailed information regarding a program/process in terms of what DLLs and files it uses, all the drives you have installed on your computer, control CPU usage (automatically or manually), and automatically or manually clean/free memory.
So, in conclusion, what am I trying to say? WinPatrol and AnVir Task Manager are both excellent programs. No one is better than they other. As I already said, WinPatrol is more of a security/system monitoring focused program, while AnVir Task Manager is more of a multifunction Windows Task Manager on steroid type program. While they have similar features (for example, AnVir Task Manager can work very well as a system monitor or security focused program also) both should be used depending on your desires and needs.
Now I know someone is going to ask, so I will address these two questions now:
- If I have the money and I want to go purchase one of the paid versions of WinPatrol or AnVir Task Manager, which one should I get?
- It is hard for me to give you a blanket answer as to which one to use. In terms of bang for the buck, AnVir Task Manger will give you more than WinPatrol on a purely quantitative basis; however WinPatrol costs less and is more light on your computer resources. However, on a qualitative basis, which one you want to purchase will depend on your needs; are you looking for more of a system monitor software or do you prefer a Windows Task Manager replacement on steroids? You decide what you want to get. If you do decide to go with AnVir Task Manager, my suggestion would be AnVir Task Manager Pro because that is the best deal out of all three paid editions in my opinion.
- Should I (or can I) run both WinPatrol and AnVir Task Manager on my computer?
- You can run them both (just be sure to disable the overlapping features such as startup monitoring so you don’t get double prompts) if you feel the need to do so. However, you really don’t need to have both of them. Just pick one or the other in my humble opinion; don’t clutter up your computer by “over protecting”.
To learn more about and grab WinPatrol or AnVir Task Manager, click on the following links: