5 Powerful Alternatives to the Windows Task Manager

Windows 10 occasionally runs into difficulties: unresponsive windows, high CPU usage, high disk usage, suspicious apps, etc. When that happens, the Windows Task Manager is your first line of attack.

Although Windows 10 brought with it some upgrades to the Task Manager, it is still lacking.

Which is why you should try an alternative task manager. The Windows Task Manager alternatives below are more advanced, more powerful, and, best of all, available free of charge. Why not give these advanced task manager replacements a try and see which suits you best?

1. Process Explorer

windows process explorer task manager alternative

Process Explorer is a super-charged version of Windows Task Manager. Process Explorer was developed by SysInternals originally until Microsoft acquired the company. The Task Manager alternative lives on, with the company rebranded as Windows Sysinternals.

Once launched, you’ll see an overview of all running processes on your system organized in a hierarchy. There’s also a lower pane (disabled by default) that shows which DLLs or handles are in use by processes. Both features combine to make system troubleshooting much easier.

Notable features include:

  • Color-coded processes list for easier navigation.
  • See which open files are locked by which processes.
  • Set Affinity and Priority actions for processes.
  • Restart, Suspend, Kill Process, and Kill Process Tree actions.
  • Real-time CPU, GPU, RAM, and I/O diagnostic data and graphs.

2. Process Hacker

process hacker task manager alternative

Process Hacker is an open-source Windows Task Manager alternative you can use to manage your system.

It comes in both installed and portable versions and is virtually identical to Process Explorer above. The system processes overview shows a hierarchical, color-coded tree that’s packed with information. There’s no lower pane, but you can learn everything you need to know about a process by right-clicking on it.

So why is Process Hacker ranked lower than Process Explorer? Because Process Hacker’s development is on the slower side. While the Process Hacker GitHub is active, the last stable release as of this writing is from 2016.

Notable features include:

  • Color-coded processes list for easier navigation.
  • Set Affinity, Priority, and I/O Priority actions for processes.
  • Find processes by window and windows by processes.
  • Restart, Suspend, Terminate, and Terminate Tree actions.
  • Manage services, network connections, and disks.
  • Real-time CPU, GPU, RAM, and I/O diagnostic data and graphs.

3. System Explorer

Despite its generic name, System Explorer is far from a run-of-the-mill Task Manager replacement. Not only does it help with process management, but it also comes with a handful of features that can increase system security and protect against disaster. There’s even a portable version, too.

My favorite feature is per-process CPU usage history, which can be viewed over the previous minute, past hour, and past day. You can also view overall system performance in real-time, which shows some intricate details like the number of page faults or percentage of system interrupts.

Another standout feature is Snapshots. With System Explorer, you can create File, Registry, or File+Registry snapshots that you can compare against one another for better troubleshooting. Security Scans are also available in case you spot a suspicious process.

Notable features include:

  • Scan running processes against an online security database.
  • Detailed CPU usage histories on a per-process basis.
  • Store and compare File, Registry, and File+Registry snapshots.
  • Set Affinity and Priority actions for processes.
  • Restart, Suspend, End Process, and End Process Tree actions.
  • Manage modules, autoruns, drivers, users, and more.

4. Task Manager Deluxe

task manager deluxe task manager alternative

Task Manager DeLuxe (TMX) promotes itself as a direct Task Manager replacement—except better. TMX has a somewhat cluttered interface. Once you learn how to use it (which takes no time at all), you’ll realize that every bit is useful. It’s only available as a portable app.

In addition to real-time monitoring of system processes, services, and network connections, TMX allows the management of startup apps and tasks. You’ll find the charts and graphs for various monitors informative, and I like that TMX can immediately elevate privileges for any process.

Notable features include:

  • Desktop Explorer shows process details upon mousing over windows.
  • Detailed real-time monitoring of individual processes.
  • Browse, search, and filter all opened or locked files.
  • Find processes by window and windows by processes.
  • Restart, Suspend, and Terminate actions.
  • Manage services, network connections, and disks.
  • Real-time CPU, GPU, RAM, and I/O diagnostic data and graphs.

Please note that some web filters, like K-9 Web Protection, mark the MiTeC team’s site under the Spyware/Malware category. I didn’t find any issues there, but if you want to be cautious, you can download Task Manager DeLuxe from MajorGeeks instead, as this is a site we trust for software downloads.

5. Daphne

daphne task manager alternative windows

Daphne may not look like much, but this lightweight, open-source Task Manager alternative packs quite a punch. Yes, the wall of text and bare-bones interface may overwhelm you at first, but you’ll love it because it can do a few unique things. Unfortunately, a portable version is unavailable.

First, Daphne has four ways to kill a process: immediate, immediate polite (non-forced), scheduled, and scheduled polite. Want to wait until a certain day and time to end a task? Daphne makes it possible and easy. It also has an option for running processes on certain days and times.

Furthermore, in addition to finding processes by window or windows by process, Daphne can move processes to the front or back, set alpha transparencies, or even change window sizes. It isn’t just a task killer, but a true task manager.

Notable features include:

  • Ability to kill processes politely and/or at a scheduled time.
  • Kill all processes that match a name filter.
  • Separate hierarchical process tree view.
  • Find processes by window and windows by processes.
  • Set Affinity and Priority actions for processes.
  • Copy all live processes to the clipboard for troubleshooting.

The Best Windows Task Manager Alternative Is…

For ease of use and extensive functionality, Process Explorer is a solid choice for your Windows Task Manager alternative. It integrates perfectly with Windows 10 and is now a Microsoft product to boot.

That said if you want to venture outside of what Windows has to offer, try one of the other options. As each of the Task Manager replacements is completely free, you can see what suits your requirements.

Sometimes all you need the Task Manager for is killing an unresponsive task. What if I told you there is a way to kill unresponsive apps without the Task Manager?

Or maybe you’re experiencing an issue that can’t be solved by the Task Manager or an alternative. In that case, you may want to check out these Windows diagnostic tools and these Windows troubleshooting tools.

Image Credit: Vintage Tone/Shutterstock

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