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WinPatrol monitors your computer for sensitive system changes and alerts you when they happen. Upgrade to Plus for buckets of useful information.
WinPatrol is a difficult utility to classify, yet it's an exceedingly helpful one.
At its core, WinPatrol is a watch dog (hence, the Scotty icon), alerting you to changes made to your computer that might otherwise happen without your knowledge.
Bundled with that are a number of utilities to explore more of what's happening on your machine.
All of that is free.
Upgrade to Pro (which is a great value and has a generous license) and you'll also get access to something that solves one of the most annoying problems that I encounter almost daily on the web.
When any program makes changes to important system settings, WinPatrol alerts you. Scotty gives a small bark (yep, a little "woof" out of your speakers - you can turn that off if you like) and an alert box pops up.
In this example, I simply instructed DropBox to start when Windows starts and a few seconds later that alert appeared.
Note that you can decline the change by clicking No. In this case, I initiated the change; I know what it is and I want it, so my response is Yes. However, if the change is unexpected and you don't know what it is, you can also click No and WinPatrol will simply revert the change.
(I'll talk about the Plus button below.)
IE Helpers - Browser Helper Objects - Toolbars
IE Home Page
If malware happens to get in and make a change, you get notified and have the option of blocking whatever that change might have been.
Besides just monitoring what's happening to your computer, WinPatrol provides several utility screens for actually examining and modifying things on your own.
Here's WinPatrol displaying the list of items that automatically start up on my machine:
While in the past, I've often recommended other utilities for autostart management, usually autoruns from Microsoft, I find that WinPatrol's interface significantly is easier to work with. In fact, simply in writing this article, I noted several items that needed cleaning up on my own machine.
Of particular note is the ability to disable, rather than just remove, startup entries. WinPatrol remembers what you've disabled and prevents it from coming back. The best example of why that's valuable is the unnecessary application "qttask", which is installed and re-enabled with every update of Apple's iTunes or QuickTime. Disable it and it doesn't come back.
As with Startup Programs, WinPatrol provides useful interfaces for managing much of what it monitors and more:
Remove, disable, or delay startup programs
Manage IE add-ons, browser helper objects, & toolbars
Examine and remove scheduled tasks
Review system services
List and kill active tasks
Expose hidden files
Manage and filter browser cookies (IE, Mozilla and Chrome)
Monitor and alter file type associations
Manage alerts on registry changes
There's probably more that I've overlooked.
And all of that's free.
But I'd encourage you to consider upgrading to WinPatrol Plus.
The Plus upgrade includes some more technology that improves its overall infiltration detection and performance. Have a look at the comparison page for details (note that each feature there is clickable, leading you to a very detailed description).
My biggest value from the upgrade is information.
Let's say an alert pops up and you're not sure what to do about it. Or you find an entry that you don't recognize in one of WinPatrol's displays. Typically, there'll be a "Plus Info..." button that will take you to a web page containing any information that's been collected about that particular setting or application.
In reviewing my startup list, I've found something called "ISUSPM Startup". I have no idea what that is. So, I right-clicked on it and clicked on the Plus Info... item. It took me to a page on the "WinPatrol Cloud" (OK, OK, points off for using the "cloud" buzzword ) that contains:
A detailed description of what this item is (the InstallSheild Update Manager) where it comes from and how I probably got it.
An overall assessment that it is safe.
A count of how many other WinPatrol users asked for information on the file, as I did, and how many chose to disable or allow the program to run.
A "crowdsourced" result of a poll of users visiting this page, indicating that they believe the file is safe & required, not required, annoying, or unsafe.
In other words, a bucket-load of useful information.
WinPatrol Plus information helps you understand what files are for and why they're needed - if indeed they are. That's something that is exceptionally difficult to cull from performing a search on the topic these days. That's the "annoying problem" that I alluded to earlier: it's incredibly difficult to get a straight answer when trying to research the "Is this thing safe?" question.
More often than not, the information provided with WinPatrol Plus is both accurate and useful.
One of the things that I appreciate about WinPatrol's Plus upgrade is best summed up by this comment on the site:
"You're the customer, not your computer. You're welcome to use a single license code on any computer that you personally own and use."
And it's a lifetime upgrade. Buy it once and that's it.
If nothing else, give the free version a try. There's so much that it offers that I simply can't do it justice here. Then, as you understand what WinPatrol has to offer, consider Plus. I think you'll find it a very handy tool in your arsenal.
WinPatrol - I recommend it.
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