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From what I know, everytime we want to stop an app (or a frozen app), we will go TaskManager, select the app, Go to Process and terminate the process. "Ending Process" is preferred over "Ending Task" (sometimes "ending task" doesn't work anyway).

Image for End Task:

enter image description here

Image for End Process:

enter image description here

However, http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb726964.aspx:

As you examine processes, note that although applications have a main process, a single application may start multiple processes. Generally, these processes are dependent on the main application process and are stopped when you terminate the main application process or use End Task. Because of this, you'll usually want to terminate the main application process or the application itself rather than dependent processes.

They are saying it is preferred to "End Task" because the process is stopped when I stop the app. But I don't understand their logic at all, Why not simply stop the process instead?

What advantages does Ending Task have over Ending Process?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 10 down vote accepted

For programs having at least one window, End Task does the same as clicking the X "Close" button – it sends the WM_CLOSE message to that window, asking it nicely to close. (For console windows, the equivalent is CTRL_CLOSE_EVENT.) The program can prompt the user to save changes, or do various cleanup tasks. If the process complies, Task Manager waits a few seconds and proceeds with terminating the process if it is still running.

If the process is frozen or otherwise not handling window messages it receives, then, of course, neither End Task nor the Close button can work. In those cases, Windows will usually ask you to end the program forcefully, but only after giving the program sufficient time to respond.

Meanwhile, the End Process button does not concern itself with tasks or windows – it calls the TerminateProcess() function and Windows destroys the process immediately, without notifying it or giving it any chance to clean up.

(Resources such as memory are released automatically once the process is gone; however, there might remain various temporary files if the program created them, and of course there's the risk of data corruption if the process is terminated in the middle of saving data.)

See also:

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2  
And that's why End Task doesn't work for frozen programs, right? –  Daniel Beck Jan 31 '12 at 16:02

The other two answers do a fine job of explaining what the difference is in terms of what happens, but just to put in perspective how they differ in terms of how it happens, the former tells the program to close while the latter tells Windows to kill the program.

As an analogy, it is like the difference between asking someone to gather their things and leave the room and telling a bouncer to immediately and forcibly shove them out.

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To elaborate: End Task will try and close the app gracefully. If it's hung, it will then give you the option to "end now." This gives you two benefits over killing the process (which just brute-force wipes it out):

  1. enables crash recovery for apps that have registered with Windows Vista (and higher) Brief MSDN description
  2. allows sending an error report
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It is just a disrepancy in terminology. Probably Microsoft helpdesk west coast say task, whilst east coast uses technically correct process.

Technically it still terminates process. Task is probably a wrapper of process showing a window? Help of task manager does not define either.

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3  
The term "task" is correct; it has a different meaning from "process". –  grawity Jan 30 '12 at 13:37

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