Depending on which version of Windows Task Manager you use, you may find that it provides you with usable information – or not. Windows Task Manager is most commonly used to display information on all processes running on your computer, as well as advising you of the CPU and memory usage stats for a given process. Additional selective information on running applications, performance, local area connection and information on users, is also available.
But, back to running processes for a moment. What if you need additional information on a running process – or, processes? How, for example, would you determine which processes are safe if you rely on Windows Task Manager?
Running Windows Task Manager in Windows 8 (a major improvement over previous versions), as I’ve done for the following example, is not particularly useful since the only option is a raw online search. Which, in a real sense, is a hit and miss affair. Give it a try with your version of Windows Task Manager – you might be surprised to see just how cumbersome it is.
Instead, taking advantage of one of the built-in features in the freeware application, System Explorer, is a much more appropriate solution. In the following example, the selected process can easily be checked at VirusTotal, and at VirusScan, directly from within System Explorer.
It’s unlikely however, that you’ll have to take this extra step – since System Explorer has been designed to automatically rate, and provide details on processes that are listed in the developer’s extensive database.
Further information can be obtained by clicking on the “See More Details” link which will open the database reference at the developer’s site, as shown below.
System Explorer is not a one-trick pony since it has the capacity to provide detailed information on Tasks, Processes, Modules, Startups, IE Add-ons, Uninstallers, Windows, Services, Drivers, Connections and Opened Files. For this review I’ve focused on the security aspect and next up is System Explorer’s “Security Scan” which is easily launched from the GUI.
As you can see in the following screen capture – running processes are checked online against the developer’s extensive database.
The following screen capture shows a small portion of the 808 processes compared against the developer’s database.
Additional information on any specific process can easily be obtained by clicking on the “Details” link, as illustrated below.
One aspect of this application which I found intriguing is the “History” function. Running this function allows the user to view and develop information on currently running processes as well as those process running earlier but which are no longer running.
System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7.
Download at: System Explorer Net
Note: also available in a portable version that is just right for geeks on the go.
System Security Guard
System Security Guard, in a broad sense, is very much like the “Security Scan” built into System Explorer. System Security Guard however, as a stand alone small security utility, is designed to run at system startup and automatically scan running processes. As well, all new processes, as they are launched, are scanned.
The results of the initial run with System Security Guard shown below.
For this review I set the application to run at startup, and the following graphic represents the results following a week or so of automatic running. You’ll note that the application has identified 4 “Threat Files” – which, in reality, is the same file which has been flagged 4 times (each time the application was launched).
The application (CurrPorts), was flagged for good reason since it behaves in a way similar to that of a remote access Trojan. That is – it connects to the Internet in a peculiar way.
For illustrative purposes only, I ran the file against the developer’s database. However, since I use this application frequently throughout the day, I’m aware that this is a safe program.
System requirements: Windows XP, Vista and Win 7.
Download at: the developer’s site.
A big “Thank You” to regular reader Charlie L. for referring me to these applications.
8 responses to “System Explorer and System Security Guard – A Review”
I just took these two apps for a spin, very nice finds indeed. Definite keepers. Thanks to both you and Charlie.
Funny that! 🙂 I’ve kept both as well.
I was going to end the review with something like – “I test a lot of software which means I have to delete virtually everything I test (due to conflict) – but, I’ve kept both these applications with good reason”. Thought that might be a little pushy, so I didn’t.
Good to hear that you see the value in these apps.
This looks like a great program but I got an error message when I tried to run it:
System Explorer – Service Start Failed
and my Webroot anti-virus quarantined it
[c:\program files\system explorer\service\systemexplorerservice.exe]
as a trojan.
Did this happen because heuristics detected that the nature of the software is to change settings which is the sort of thing malware does?
Thanks for the articles
Yes – you’ve made the correct analysis.
Here’s a link to the VirusTotal scan of that file. As you’ll see, none of the 42 malware engines used by VirusTotal detect the executable as malware.
If you like, you can release the file from quarantine and reinstall.
I’ll throw in a piece from a previous article on false positives:
“I recently came across a forum comment (on another site), made by a regular reader, who made the comment that he occasionally gets a malware warning on applications I recommend.
He’s right, and here’s why.
Many of the applications I test and recommend, are designed to be used by sophisticated users and often, these applications dig deep into the operating system replicating the behavior of hacking tools on the one hand – and malware on the other hand.
Antimalware applications are not immune from false positives. In fact, false positives are more common than many users realize. Just one example – some AVs are notorious for seeing extractor files in application setup files as a Trojan.”
Hope this helps.
Wonderful find Bill! Thanks for sharing
Happy to hear you can make use of this one.
Since I already use Winpatrol Plus, AnVir Task Manager Pro and Auslogic Pro, Will keep these in mind. Don’t need overkill. Gimzo rates it high…Best Free Process Viewer
I hear ya. Application overload can easily sneak up.