Tiny Watcher is a free program for Microsoft Windows that monitors important folders, files and Registry locations on Windows machines.
It is virtually impossible to keep an overview of all the system changes on a computer system.
Windows does not offer a way to keep track of the changes that are made by applications, updates, and the operating system, and even if there would be a way it would provide the user with a long list of system changes leaving inexperienced and probably also many experienced users in doubt.
Monitoring system changes should, therefore, concentrate on the core parts of the Windows operating system, say the Windows Registry and the system32 folder in the Windows directory. You find several applications that monitor selected folders in real time, WinPatrol is one of them.
Tiny Watcher monitors system changes in a different way. It scans the crucial folders and Registry locations during initial setup and reports on the changes only when it is started again. This has the advantage that the program does not run all the time in the background and consumes system resources while doing so. Disadvantage is that you are not notified about changes in real-time but only when you run the application.
Tiny Watcher is therefore not a real-time system protection application, more of a tool that allows a forensic analysis of system changes. It still offers functions to deal with the changes that have been made to the system.
It provides access to a web search to gather information about a change but also to confirm, disable or remove it. Those actions can be problematic; it is not advised to delete items unless it is known that deleting them causes no harm. It usually is not a problem to remove a startup entry, but it could be highly problematic to delete a file in a Windows folder.
Tiny Watcher works best when executed during system start or closely after. Each action is written in a log file which is - again - excellent for tracing a file or system change.
Tiny Watcher is hosted at Donation Coders. It runs on pretty much every Windows operating system, yes even Windows 95, including Windows XP and Windows Vista. It surely does not look pretty, but I'd say functionality > looks all the time.
Update: Tiny Watcher is no longer available on the official website. We have uploaded the latest version of the software to our download server. Note that we don't support it in any way and have done so for archiving purposes only. Download the program with a click on the following link: TinyWatcher.zip
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.