Today’s computers, using multiple cores and multi-tasking operating systems, play host to a lot of processes–several dozen even when booting up “clean”. Sometimes these processes do not work and play well with others, consuming too much in the way of system resources and forcing a reboot or even a hard power-down. Process Lasso keeps an eye on these out-of-control programs and allow you to fine-tune how much CPU time a program uses.
The main window can be described as “Task Manager on steroids”, although Bitsum cautions that Process Lasso is not intended as a Task Manager replacement. From this window, the user can see all processes running, who the claimed publisher is, what CPUs (or cores) the program is allowed to access, and many other useful facts. Process Manager allows the user to adjust many key parameters–for example, does Notepad really need as much CPU time as your favorite game? A user can set it to launch with low priority, so it wastes fewer precious cycles. Processes which should only consume system resources when nothing else is going on–such as long downloads–can be shifted down, while vital processes–such as complex spreadsheet recalculations–can be given higher priority.
However, the feature which gives Process Lasso its name is its ability to force out-of-control processes to lower levels of priority. The user has access to a wide variety of settings to determine just when a process is considered “out of control” and what Process Lasso should do about it. Specific programs can be excluded–for example, some programs might need every CPU cycle they can get–and it’s possible to exclude foreground processes, so the program you are actively working on doesn’t receive slowdowns. While this is a lot of fine-tuning for the average user, who will probably be happy with the default settings, the fact that the power is there is a major plus for the program.
Casual or non-technical users might find Process Lasso gives them an interesting look into precisely what their machine is doing, but those who will get the most of it are those who already understand process management and wish more control over it than Windows gives by default. As with all programs which allow a user to control system operations, it is possible to crash your system or lose data by carelessly changing settings. The program’s Help features are also minimal, although registered users have access to a tech support forum.
Note: There are two versions of this program, one for Windows 2000, XP, and 32-bit Vista, and one for 64-bit Vista. This is the version for 32-bit systems. PC World also hosts the 64-bit version. Both versions are donationware. They are free to try, but the author accepts and encourages donations towards further development.