Most of the malware, adware and spyware silently slip into our Windows systems and make changes to system settings without our consent. They make changes in Windows registry to auto-start themselves at Windows startup, make changes in browser settings to redirect us to malware sites and what not. But now you can use free WinPatrol to monitor changes being made to your system. If WinPatrol detects a change, it will popup a window and alert you about it. You can decide whether to allow the change or not. This way you can protect yourself from malware, adware and those silently installing toolbars.
You can download the WinPatrol from http://www.winpatrol.com/. The download is available in form of an installable setup file. The file name is in the form wpsetup.exe. The download file size is only around one megabytes. You can run this setup file to install WinPatrol on your system.
When WinPatrol runs for the first time, it shows the main interface window. Later, you can open this main window by double-clicking on its notification area (system tray) icon. The main WinPatrol window has many tabs showing many different kinds of information like startup programs, services, scheduled tasks, active tasks and many others. Two of the tabs, activex controls and registry monitor, are fucntional in the paid PLUS version only.
The most important and useful section of WinPatrol is the Startup Programs section. This section shows all the programs that automatically start when Windows starts. After selecting a program from the list, you can click on the Info button to see information about that program. You can click Disable to disable the selected program. Disabling a program is very helpful when doing system diagnosis. You can also add a new program to the system startup by clicking on the Add button and choosing a program.
WinPatrol automatically adds itself to the system startup entries and starts everytime you logon to windows. Then it sits in your notification area and continuously monitors your system for any changes. If it detects a system change being made by any program, it pops up a dialog and asks your permission. For example, I tried to add Windows Notepad to startup entries in the registry and soon WinPatrol popped up the following dialog.
If you think the program is a goodware, then you can click on the Yes button to allow the program to be added to the auto-start entries list. If you think the program is a malware, then you can click on the No button to disallow and remove the entries from the registry.
The WinPatrol utility is not only about the startup programs but it is loaded with multiple features. You can view the current running processes in the Active Tasks section. You can see the information about any task by clicking on the Info button. You can stop the selected task by clicking on the Kill Task button.
Other notable features of WinPatrol are :
- Cookies – View and remove cookies from Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.
- File Types – View, add or remove file type associations in Windows.
- Hidden Files – View hidden files on your system (useful for cleaning malware).
- Recent – View recently detected programs (useful for cleaning malware).
- Services – View services installed on your system.
- Scheduled Tasks- View and remove scheduled tasks on your system.
WinPatrol is a very useful tool that may help your prevent the malware infection on your system. It can be used along with any antivirus product without any problem. WinPatrol uses a dog icon for its program and the WinPatrol author has named this dog (icon) Scotty. So bring home this good dog (named Scotty) and let him guard your system against malware and other badware.