WinPatrol has a very good idea at its core. It takes a snapshot of a PC’s settings and then restores that configuration if anyone or anything tries to change it. This is an excellent strategy and exactly the method that the world’s best network software deploys in order to protect network devices from tampering by hackers. WinPatrol is unique in applying this idea to PCs.
As well as protecting the setup of a PC, WinPatrol scans the registry for unauthorized changes and monitors startup routines. These three areas are prime targets for hackers and malware in order to shut down detection systems and provide “persistence” routines that reinstall malware every time an AV removes it.
The major problem that you will face when trying to install WinPatrol is that it is no longer available. The next problem you will face is that there isn’t any other package that is exactly like it.
However, we have looked around for the next best thing that has as many of the attributes of WinPatrol as possible.
Here is our list of the eight best WinPatrol alternatives:
- Kerish Doctor A system maintenance service for PCs. Utilities include a registry snapshot and protection, startup routine monitoring, junk file clearance and broken shortcut removal, abandoned process removal, and vulnerability scans.
- MJ Registry Watcher Guards the registry and startup routines against unauthorized changes. It is free to use.
- Sysinternals Autoruns A free utility from Microsoft that lists drivers and services associated with each Windows feature.
- Quick Startup Aides the management of processes that launch when the Windows environment loads on a computer at startup.
- WinLock Controls access to the settings of Windows to just an administrator account. Great for preventing children from bypassing parental controls.
- Chameleon Startup Manager Lists all startup processes in Windows, enabling the user to suspend some and improve startup speed.
- SysWatch A security tool for business-owned PCs that blocks any changes to the computer’s settings and key services.
- Process Hacker An attractive replacement for Windows Task Manager.
Problems with WinPatrol
Despite the glowing assessment, above, WinPatrol had its problems. The program was free to use. That’s great for users, but it also means that the developer had no money to employ a team to maintain and upgrade the software. The original creator of WinPatrol kept hold of it and remained the sole developer for the project throughout its life.
The WinPatrol user community would have been better served had the owner of the program “sold out” and passed WinPatrol on to a big corporation that had the budget and a team big enough to keep the software up to date.
As it was, WinPatrol failed to keep up with hacker technology. As early as 2017, the system was unable to combat some ransomware attacks, such as Cerber. Although WinPatrol searches for unauthorized changes, it doesn’t have a file protection utility or any backup routines. So if a ransomware virus got on to a computer, you wouldn’t know about it until it was too late and there wouldn’t be any chance of recovery.
The problem with WinPatrol was that it promised more than it could deliver, generating false levels of confidence in users. If the service was pitched as just a system configuration protector, its users would probably have also installed an antimalware system. So, even before WinPatrol became unavailable, it would probably have been better to seek out an alternative.
The best WinPatrol alternatives
Our methodology for selecting a WinPatrol alternative
We reviewed the market for PC system maintenance solutions and analyzed tools based on the following criteria:
- Processor clean up
- Junk file removal
- Configuration control
- Registry protection
- Cache clearing
- A free trial or a demo option that enables people to test the system before buying
- Value for money from a reasonably priced package or a free tool
With these selection criteria in mind, we looked for systems that will help keep your PC in peak condition and we chose both free and paid systems.
Kerish Doctor is a comprehensive system maintenance package for Windows-based PCs. The suite of utilities improves on the systems management tools that are built into Windows. The bundle of services performed by Kerish Doctor will improve performance, remove temporary files and processes, unblock hanging processes, and improve system security.
The Kerish Doctor program performs a number of system sweeps. It removes broken shortcuts, cleans out the cache, and removes unwanted files. It also performs a vulnerability sweep to identify system security weaknesses. It hardens settings on the computer to reduce susceptibility to malware infection. It tweaks the PC’s configuration to improve the computer’s performance and that of its network and internet connections. A Games Booster module adjusts the PC’s settings to optimize it as a console for games.
Don’t rely on Kerish Doctor for antimalware protection. It is primarily a performance enhancer. However, many of its features will improve the security of a PC. The program examines new browser plugins to prevent damaging actions, such as system access attempts, which could indicate malicious activities. It monitors the registry, startup processes, and new scheduled services to identify damaging or suspicious routines.
System performance routines extend to memory and resource tests to prevent system crashes. The service is constantly updated with new scenarios that enable the utility to implement new tuning services to keep a PC in peak performance.
Kerish Doctor installs on Windows XP and Windows 7, 8, and 10. Each license covers installation on up to three PCs and it can be bought for a one, two, or three year period. A longer license term works out to be cheaper per year. Kerish Products offers Kerish Doctor on a 15-day free trial.
- Easy to use interface – great for technical and non-technical audiences
- Can clean temp files, remove hung processes, and fix common errors
- Can identify malicious browser plugins contributing to clickjacking and spyware
- Users can leverage the tool to keep their system from crashing and perform proactive maintenance
- More suited for PC maintenance rather than antimalware services
Kerish Doctor is our number one pick as a replacement for WinPatrol. This is because the utility includes startup and registry monitoring processes just like WinPatrol. Unlike WinPatrol, Kerish Doctor has many system maintenance and performance improvement routines. It has strong vulnerability checks, but shouldn’t be regarded as an antimalware system. Kerish Doctor is only free to use during a trial period because it is paid software. However, licenses are very cheap and the fee ensures that the program is constantly improved and updated.
Get a 15-day free trial: https://kerish.org/en/get_file.php
Operating System: Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows, 8, Windows 10
MJ Registry Watcher, like WinPatrol, is the property of a single developer. This could mean that the program won’t be around forever. However, it’s free to use and for the time being, it is a good alternative to WinPatrol.
MJ stands for Mark Jacobs, who created and distributes the utility. This system guards the registry, startup programs, and system files in a similar way to WinPatrol. Just like WinPatrol, MJ Registry Watcher backs up settings and key services and restores them if a virus or hacker tries to change that configuration.
The service blocks any attempted changes to registry keys and raises an alert. The user then has the option to allow the change – in the case of a valid installation. This process also covers important system processes. As with the registry entries, these updates might be valid and part of a Windows patch. So, there is always the option to allow updates to proceed.
MJ Registry Watcher is a gem and serves as a worthwhile replacement for WinPatrol. However, it could get out of date and it shouldn’t be regarded as an AV replacement.
- Can block or alert to registry changes
- Can restore the registry to a saved “clean” copy
- Users can whitelist processes like Windows updates for patching
- Only supported by a single developer
This free utility is available from Microsoft, so it is reputable and supported by a competent development team. Sysinternals is a large collection of free system utilities that enhance the standard system monitors of Windows. Autoruns is a startup monitor within this collection of facilities.
The main focus of the utility is the list of programs that get run during system startup. A second event that interests Autoruns is a user login. There are programs that start up at that point. The Autoruns output shows all of these processes, the order in which they launch, and the supplementary programs that each calls.
Autoruns also identifies all of the programs that get run at the launch of a specific Windows utility, such as Internet Explorer or Windows Media Player. It is also possible to document all of the programs that get run by third-party software in Windows.
Autoruns is a useful tool to find out exactly which programs contribute to which Windows features. However, it doesn’t protect them. There are no backup or rollback features in this tool and no alert mechanism to warn you if a setting or program gets changed. You will still need to install an AV and other protection software if you install Autoruns.
- Completely free
- Simple yet intuitive interface
- Useful for auditing and detecting software and processes
- Great for discovery but does not offer protection or recovery features
Quick Startup, by Glarysoft, helps you manage all of the processes that launch during your computer’s startup process. The main phase of the startup that Quick Startup focuses on is the Windows initialization procedure and all of the programs that load when a user logs in.
Glarysoft offers Quick Startup for free. The software monitors programs that are launched from many locations, not just those applications that are listed in the Startup folder. It tracks the launch of services and drivers that underpin the Windows Desktop and all required services of the operating system. This enables the user to examine the computer for unexpected and unauthorized processes.
The startup processes of Windows launch before any third-party software is run. This gives hackers an opportunity to mask the presence of malware on a computer by disabling the detection capabilities of antivirus systems. It also makes a good place for persistence modules to hide. These processes serve virus bundles, operating as a daemon that relaunches any malware processes that get spotted by AVs and shut down. Persistence programs can also hijack browsers to make it impossible to search for solutions to malware problems.
One problem with allowing a lot of programs to run automatically at startup is that it lengthens the time it takes for the system to become available to the user. Quick Startup presents an easy-to-use interface that allows the PC user to manage all of the startup programs and make the computer accessible sooner.
- The tool is easy to use, even for non-technical users
- GUI interface is simple and highly visual
- Tracks service, drivers, processes, and programs
- Better suited for non-technical users
CrystalOffice WinLock tightens up the administrative features of Windows so that each individual user account on a PC is unable to alter settings. It prevents the user from accessing a number of Windows features, such as the Control Panel and the Registry Editor. The admin account is still able to access these utilities.
The main benefit of WinLock is that it hardens the Parental Controls set on each account. Junior Wizz kids can find a way around these controls and even manage to delete activity records. When a smart kid wants to do something naughty, he can easily disable attempts by parents to track activities. WinLock is one step ahead and prevents any hacks a user can deploy to undermine the PC’s security.
WinLock is also a good tool for businesses because it prevents equipment that is dedicated to a specific kiosk function, such as product descriptions in a store, from being accessed for personal use by staff.
WinLock can restrict system and internet usage time per user which are useful tools for parents and business owners alike. It can be set to log all activities and take periodic desktop and webcam snapshots. It enables an administrator to remotely lock a device
WinLock can be installed on desktops, laptops, and mobile devices running Windows variants. It is a free utility.
- Locks down administrative and Windows features for different windows users
- A good option for parental controls
- Can put machines into kiosk mode for certain applications
- Is free to use
- Better suited homegroups and small networks
Chameleon Startup Manager, from NeoSoft Tools, helps a PC’s owner observe and control all of the processes that run when Windows launches. The software is available in both free and paid versions – the paid version is called Chameleon Startup Manager Pro.
Paying for the Pro version gets an administrator account control over the processes run by other user accounts on a PC. Other features available in the Pro version are a blacklisting service and the ability to resequence startup processes. Both versions include a startup process discovery service and the ability to suspend or delay processes in the startup launch sequence.
- Offers a free and paid version
- The interface makes it easy to manage different processes
- Pro version offers blacklisting and control over startup functions
- Could use a more user-friendly interface
SafenSoft produces two versions of SysWatch. These are SysWatch Workstation and SysWatch Workstation PLUS. Both tools are aimed at businesses. The SysWatch method is very similar to WinPatrol’s configuration control strategy, it makes a record of key system settings and then automatically restores them if any setting is changed. It is possible for the authorized user to make changes through the SysWatch system.
The SysWatch protection can tell the difference between a hacker attack and a genuine software provider patch or update. SySWatch also guards access to key services, such as the Registry or PowerShell, and blocks suspicious activity.
SysWatch is a very close service to that provided by WinPatrol. However, it doesn’t include any signature identifiers or process updates. The producers are so confident that they have fully protected a PC’s settings that SysWatch could get outdated very quickly should the hacker world discover a new attack strategy that SafenSoft never thought about.
SysWatch Workstation PLUS has the system controls of SysWatch Workstation but it also includes an antivirus scanner, which is a safer option than just relying on the lockdown strategy. SysWatch Workstation is available for a free trial.
- Safeguards against hidden malware and bootleg software
- Can automatically restore to golden settings if unauthorized access occurs
- Users can restrict access to registry, Powershell, and other admin tools
- Does not provide signature identifiers or process updates
Process Hacker is a free, open-source system monitoring, management, and security tool for PCs. The main service of this utility is like the Task Manager of Windows with some extra features. The tabbed interface shows a list of processes, a services list, a screen showing disk activity, and another that shows disk activity.
Processes can be shown in a statistics grid or as a drill-down details screen that includes an activity monitor graph. There is also a System Information Window, which is a colored version of the process activity graphs in Task Manager.
A File Handlers window in the interface lists all files that are currently locked, showing the process that is currently using each. The disk and network activity screens are very similar, showing each process that is currently accessing each resource in a table view.
Process Hacker is mainly a monitoring tool. However, it provides an interface that enables the user to change some system variables, such as the settings of running services. It doesn’t have the settings lock that WinPatrol provided, but it does allow the user to kill a suspicious process on demand.
As it is a free utility, Process Hacker is a useful alternative to Task Manager with nicer colors.
- A highly visual interface makes sorting processes quick and easy
- Is completely free
- Can easily kill processes with a few clicks
- Provides more insights than Task Manager
- Better suited as a manual monitoring tool than preventive software
Choosing a WinPatrol Alternative
WinPatrol had many functions and it performed some of them better than others. When seeking alternatives to the system, we concentrated on utilities that guard the registry and/or monitor startup processes.
Most of the alternatives to WinPatrol that we recommend are free to use or have a free version. Remember, this is not always a good thing as an underfunded software utility can soon become outdated. Keep that factor in mind when choosing a system that you need to rely upon.