After spending some more time at the Uniblue Process Library site, I discovered that they also offer a free process scanning tool that offers another, possibly more usable and expeditious way to conduct active process research on your Vista PC. You can download their Process Scan tool (901 KB) and install it on your PC (see note at end of blog for an additional helpful tip on installing freeware/shareware on your PC).
This produces an application called Uniblue Process Scanner that you can run on your PC any time you like. Its initial screen provides a button to start a process scan on your machine, which then produces a progress bar, and communicates with the Uniblue servers to provide an HTML-based listing of all processes active on your PC, 25 at a time. This appears in a Web page on your desktop when the scan is complete.
When the report shows up you can resort it by clicking on any column with a sort arrow at its right margin. For example, to sort the listing by product name in ascending order, click the Product name column (click again to re-sort in descending order). You will also find information on the Security tab, though it’s not terribly informative (likewise for the Network and Performance tabs), though the Autostart tab provides yet another listing of startup items for your Vista PC.
A quick look through the latter shows that Uniblue/Process Library hasn’t been as diligent about identifying all the startup items it finds as it has been about identifyiing processes. I have yet to see them misidentify a process, but see from my scans on several machines that they routinely miss about one in ten startup items (these names don’t always correspond to distinct executable files, however, so somebody needs to do some work on these items to fill the current gaps).
Nevertheless, this is another useful forensic tool for system analysis, though you may not want to leave it installed on your machine all the time. This leads directly into my freeware/shareware NOTE for this blog, which follows next:
NOTE: About installing Freeware/Shareware on your Vista PC
You should always check to make sure you can roll back to a recent restore point (less than 12 hours old is my rule of thumb, but more recent is better than less to be sure) before you install any freeware or shareware on your Vista PC. This lets you roll back in time prior to the install, in case an uninstall doesn’t do the trick entirely, or in case a newly added software component causes problems from which it may be difficult to recover.
Check the System Properties Control Panel item (Start, Control Panel, System, Advamced System settings, System Protection tab) to see the timestamp for the most recent restore point on your Vista PC. Use the Create button beneath that listing to create a new restore point, if what’s showing is more than 12 hours old (or if you’ve installed anything you want to keep on your PC since that restore point was made).