Where a program like CCleaner is good for disabling changes to your context menus and startup lists after an installation, WinPatrol 2014 from BillP Studios monitors alterations as they occur and allows you to stop them beforehand. This also means it's easier to keep track of what changes are actually being made, something that's harder to do after the fact.
As gHack's Martin Brinkmann notes, WinPatrol was recently updated and given a facelift for 2014. Along with support for Windows 7 and 8, the new version now has handling for Windows Update and new types of browser cookies, as well as receiving a number of performance tweaks.
With its excessively tabbed interface, it's not the most friendly of applications to fire up for the first time and getting through all the available functionality will take more than a few minutes. You won't need to enable everything that's on offer, but Brinkmann provides some recommendations for areas you should check out:
- Startup programs to manage all third-party programs that start with Windows.
- Delayed start may only be useful on older versions of Windows. Delay the start of some programs to improve the overall system start of Windows.
- IE Helpers lists helper objects that are loaded by Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
- Scheduled Tasks lists all tasks that run automatically on the system.
- Services lists all Windows Services.
- Active Tasks lists third-party processes that are currently running.
- Cookies displays Internet Explorer, Mozilla or Chrome cookies, and provides you with options to select the cookies that you want to keep.
- File Types lists known file types and the program they open in.
- Hidden Files displays all hidden files of the system.
- Recent displays a list of programs and files that WinPatrol has discovered recently.
If you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and dive into the more complex features, especially the system monitoring options, which are a key part of the program.