Article by Kevin Savetz

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Copyright © by Kevin Savetz


WinPatrol Plus 4.0 
$12.95
BillP Studios
www.winpatrol.com
Rating: 4 out of 5

Keeping track of what goes on behind the scenes in Windows can be difficult, even for experts. One spyware app can slow you and your system down, making life frustrating.

WinPatrol Plus 4.0 aims to help you better understand the programs running on your PC and alert you to new software that's added without your permission. It easily identifies and removes adware and spyware and is equally effective at removing software that's less nefarious but taps system resources. The program runs on Win9x/Me/2000/NT/XP.

A free version shows data about startup programs and current active tasks, providing more details than Task Manager. You can remove or temporarily disable startup apps with a click. You can also swiftly kill any running app. WinPatrol can also optionally warn you if new startup apps are added, when software or a Web site tries to change your home page, and when a Web site uses cookies. The app's cookie management is a bit weak, but it can help refuse cookies with specific text in the name.

The $12.95 Plus version adds Web-based info pages that explain what the apps that WinPatrol finds actually do. Data was available for many, but not all, of the programs on my test system. Windows and other Microsoft apps were well documented (explaining a file's purpose, how to remove it, and whether it's safe to do so), but there was no information about some third-party programs, such as those that peripherals add.

Both versions are svelte; the entire installation is about 200KB. Rather than being loaded with an unwieldy database of viruses and spyware, the app focuses on system monitoring and uses the Web to fetch details. Unlike Ad-aware and some other spyware removal tools, WinPatrol is fairly fast at scanning your hard drive and Registry; it focuses on what's running now and what will be running the next time your PC boots. The interface could be more polished, but the app's ability to quickly identify questionable programs and remove unwanted software is welcome.

Reprinted with permission from Computer Power User magazine.


Articles by Kevin Savetz