So far the focus of Cats With Pens has been on web design. I’m going to take a slight detour today to talk about a great tool for your PC. My apologies to readers who use a Mac. You may flame me in the comments.
Even though your website lives somewhere in the cloud, you access it from down below using your PC. If your PC is messed up, then you can’t access your website.
A great, inexpensive, and easy to use tool for keeping tabs on your PC is WinPatrol by BillP Studios.
What is WinPatrol?
WinPatrol is a small program that acts like a watch dog quietly patrolling your PC and letting you know if something important has changed. WinPatrol also allows you to quickly take a look at what is going on inside your PC and make adjustments.
This is post is meant to be a review of WinPatrol, not a user’s manual, so I won’t mention all of program’s features. But let’s look at a few of the features that I use all the time and that make the program worthwhile for me.
Here’s the open screen of WinPatrol from my current PC:
WinPatrol shows you all of the programs that will start whenever you turn on your PC. If you ever find that it’s taking too long for your PC to start, one likely culprit can be too many startup programs. As each program fights for a share of your computer’s memory and processing time, it can take your PC longer and longer to boot.
WinPatrol offers two options. If you don’t need a program to run constantly, WinPatrol lets you remove it from the Startup Programs. The program will still be installed on your computer and you can launch it separately whenever you need it.
Another option is to move the program to Delayed Start. The program will still start every time you turn on your PC, but you can specify that this program will only launch, say, three minutes after you turn on the computer. This allows the more critical programs, for example, your firewall and antivirus, to launch immediately, while less critical programs start later.
WinPatrol lets you easily monitor those programs that you want to run periodically. This is done under the Scheduled Tasks tab. WinPatrol shows you at a glance the program, when it last ran, and when it is next scheduled to run. This is a great way to make sure that your antivirus program and backup program run on a regular basis.
Did you ever wonder about the programs running on your computer with strange names like csrss.exe or msseces.exe? Especially when it seems like your computer is not acting the way it should, you start worrying about all of these things. Where did that come from? Why is that here? Is that program safe?
WinPatrol can help you answer these questions. By typing the program name into the search box included as part of the Plus tab, WinPatrol will take to a web page that will explain what the program does and if it is a required program.
Here’s part of the result that I received when I searched for csrss.exe. As you can, this is an important program to keep on your PC and not something to be afraid of:
WinPatrol is the brain child of Bill Pytlovany of Scotia, New York. Bill has years of experience in the computer industry with AOL, Microsoft, and Disney. A few years ago he earned certification as a Microsoft Most Valuable Profession.
Bill provides personal support for WinPatrol. You can find his phone number and email address on the Contact page of his website.
WinPatrol can be downloaded for free from the BillP Studios website. The free version does not expire and includes free updates. Access to the Plus feature mentioned above is available to registered users for a one-time fee of $29.95. There is also a family plan for $49.95.
If you like WinPatrol, but are living on a tight budget, watch the BillP Studio website for those times when Bill sells the program at a discount. Also, it’s worthwhile to subscribe to Bill’s blog, Bits from Bill. In the blog Bill shares his insights into computer security issues and the latest news about WinPatrol, including any specials.
Why I Like and Use WinPatrol
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of WinPatrol. The program makes me feel like I’m on top of what’s happening under the hood of my PC. The program is small. The downloads are always less than one megabyte and install quickly and cleanly. WinPatrol uses very few resources. Right now on my computer, running in the background, it’s taking about six kilobytes of RAM and occasionally accesses the CPU.
My One Complaint about WinPatrol
One time I had a problem with a firewall program on my PC. It looked like the firewall was starting when I booted my PC and providing the protection that I expected. Somehow (and don’t ask, because I don’t remember) I discovered that though the firewall was showing it’s icon, the program was not running. Needless to say, I was irritated. I uninstalled that firewall in a big hurry and installed a different one.
Then I started wondering why WinPatrol didn’t alert me that the firewall was not actually working. I sent an email to Bill. Within a day I got a response from Bill that while WinPatrol did not include this service, he had another program, Task Catcher, which does this job.
Call me selfish, but I think the functions performed by Task Catcher should be rolled into WinPatrol.
If you own a PC, you owe it to yourself to download and install WinPatrol. The program runs on Windows XP, Vista, and 7 (including 64-bit). Try it for a while and once you are satisfied with it, buy a license. The license is good for life and for as many computers as you have. As Bill says, “You’re the customer not your computer. You’re welcome to use a single license code on any computer you personally own and use.”
Full disclosure: Sadly, none of the links in this post are affiliate links. I have received no compensation to write this review. Bill P. didn’t even take me out to lunch.