atop vs btop vs htop

Ashwani Paliwal
November 2, 2023

If you've spent any time working with Linux or Unix-based systems, you're probably familiar with various command-line tools designed to help you monitor system resources and processes. Among these tools, Atop, Btop, and Htop stand out as popular choices for system monitoring. Each of these tools offers a unique set of features and capabilities, making them suitable for different use cases. In this comprehensive comparison, we'll explore the key differences and similarities between Atop, Btop, and Htop to help you choose the one that best suits your needs.


Atop is a comprehensive performance monitoring tool for Linux systems that provides a wide range of data about system activities. It goes beyond the typical top-like utilities, offering a detailed view of resource usage and system performance over time.

Key Features of Atop:

  1. Resource Monitoring: Atop provides real-time information on system resources, including CPU usage, memory utilization, disk activity, and network traffic.
  2. Per-Process Statistics: One of Atop's strengths is its ability to display per-process statistics, allowing you to identify resource-hungry applications.
  3. Historical Data: Atop can log and display historical data, enabling you to analyze trends and track resource usage over time.
  4. Interactive Interface: Atop offers an interactive terminal interface that's easy to navigate, making it user-friendly.
  5. Resource Efficiency: It's known for its minimal resource consumption, ensuring it doesn't put excessive load on your system.
  6. Highlighting: Atop can highlight resource-intensive processes, making it easier to identify and address performance bottlenecks.
  7. Resource Consumption Over Time: Atop can display resource consumption over time, helping you spot performance irregularities or anomalies.


Btop is a relatively new addition to the Linux system monitoring toolset. It aims to be a minimalistic, modern alternative to the classic top command.

Key Features of Btop:

  1. Minimalistic Interface: Btop features a straightforward and visually appealing interface with a focus on essential information.
  2. User-Friendly: It is designed to be easy for both beginners and experienced users, with intuitive navigation.
  3. Resource Overview: Btop provides a quick overview of system resources, including CPU usage, memory consumption, and network activity.
  4. Customization: Btop offers a degree of customization, allowing users to tailor the display to their preferences.
  5. Mouse Support: Btop supports mouse interactions, which is a feature not commonly found in terminal-based monitoring tools.
  6. Process Management: Users can perform basic process management tasks, such as killing processes, directly from the Btop interface.


Htop is one of the most popular and widely used system monitoring tools in the Linux world. It's often considered a significant improvement over the traditional top command.

Key Features of Htop:

  1. Color-Coded Display: Htop uses colors to differentiate between processes and their resource usage, making it easy to identify issues at a glance.
  2. Interactive Interface: Htop's interface is interactive, allowing users to scroll, sort, and filter processes with ease.
  3. Tree View: It provides a tree view of processes, showing their hierarchical relationships.
  4. Customization: Htop offers a variety of customization options, enabling users to tailor the display to their preferences.
  5. Mouse Support: Like Btop, Htop also supports mouse interactions for an even more user-friendly experience.
  6. Process Sorting: You can sort processes by various criteria, such as CPU usage, memory consumption, and more.
  7. Resource Consumption Bars: Htop displays resource consumption as bars, helping you quickly gauge the load on your system.

Comparison: Atop vs. Btop vs. Htop

Now that we have a general understanding of each tool's features, let's delve into a detailed comparison.

1. Resource Monitoring

Atop: Atop excels in resource monitoring, providing a comprehensive view of CPU, memory, disk, and network usage. It stands out with its ability to display historical data, making it ideal for performance analysis.

Btop: Btop offers a simplified overview of resource usage. While it provides the basics, it lacks the historical data and in-depth analysis capabilities of Atop.

Htop: Htop strikes a balance between the detailed insights of Atop and the simplicity of Btop. It presents resource usage efficiently and effectively, with a focus on real-time data.

2. User-Friendliness

Atop: Atop's interface, while informative, may seem overwhelming for beginners due to the amount of data it displays. It is more suitable for experienced users or those needing in-depth performance analysis.

Btop: Btop's minimalistic and visually appealing interface is designed to be user-friendly. It's an excellent choice for users who want a quick, easy-to-understand overview of their system's performance.

Htop: Htop is known for its user-friendly interface, offering both simplicity and extensive functionality. It strikes a balance that caters to a wide range of users, from beginners to experts.

3. Customization

Atop: Atop provides limited customization options compared to Htop and Btop.

Btop: Btop offers a moderate level of customization, allowing users to adjust the display to their preferences to some extent.

Htop: Htop provides the most extensive customization options, making it a versatile tool that can be adapted to various user preferences and needs.

4. Process Management

Atop: Atop allows users to manage processes but doesn't have as many process management features as Htop or Btop.

Btop: Btop offers basic process management features, making it a suitable choice for users who want to take quick actions directly from the monitoring tool.

Htop: Htop includes advanced process management features, such as process killing and priority adjustment, giving users more control over their system.

5. Mouse Support

Atop: Atop's interface is primarily keyboard-driven and lacks mouse support.

Btop: Btop supports mouse interactions, making it more accessible for users who prefer point-and-click actions.

Htop: Htop also provides mouse support, enhancing its usability and accessibility.

6. Resource Efficiency

Atop: Atop is known for its minimal resource consumption, ensuring it doesn't put an excessive load on your system.

Btop: Btop is lightweight and designed for minimal resource usage.

Htop: Htop is slightly heavier on resources compared to Atop and Btop but still remains efficient for most systems.

7. Historical Data

Atop: Atop excels in historical data logging and analysis, making it a valuable tool for performance monitoring and troubleshooting over time.

Btop: Btop doesn't provide historical data, as it's primarily focused on real-time system monitoring.

Htop: Htop, like Btop, is geared towards real-time monitoring and doesn't offer extensive historical data capabilities.

8. Color-Coding

Atop: Atop uses color-coding sparingly and primarily for highlighting resource-intensive processes.

Btop: Btop uses colors for visual appeal and differentiation but not as extensively as Htop.

Htop: Htop stands out for its extensive use of color-coding to help users quickly identify processes and resource consumption levels.

9. Availability and Installation

Atop: Atop may not come pre-installed on all Linux distributions but can typically be installed using package managers.

Btop: Btop is relatively easy to install on most distributions, thanks to its minimal dependencies.

Htop: Htop is widely available and can be found in the default repositories of many Linux distributions, making it easily accessible.

Choosing the Right Tool

The choice between Atop, Btop, and Htop depends on your specific requirements and preferences. Here are some scenarios where each tool shines:

Atop: Choose Atop if you need detailed resource monitoring and historical data for performance analysis. It's an excellent choice for system administrators and engineers who require in-depth insights into system behavior.

Btop: Opt for Btop if you prefer a user-friendly, minimalistic tool that offers a quick overview of your system's performance. Btop is perfect for users who want a straightforward, visually appealing monitoring tool without overwhelming features.

Htop: Htop is a versatile option suitable for a wide range of users. If you want a balance between detailed system information and user-friendliness, Htop is an excellent choice. Its advanced process management capabilities and colorful interface make it a favorite among many Linux users.

In summary, each of these tools serves a specific purpose, and your choice should align with your monitoring needs and your level of familiarity with system monitoring tools. Remember that you can install and try multiple tools to determine which one best suits your workflow.


In the world of Linux system monitoring, Atop, Btop, and Htop are three notable contenders, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Atop stands out with its extensive historical data and resource monitoring capabilities, making it a valuable tool for in-depth analysis. Btop offers a minimalistic, user-friendly experience, perfect for those who prefer simplicity and visual appeal. Htop strikes a balance between detailed monitoring and user-friendliness, making it a popular choice for many Linux users.

Ultimately, the choice of monitoring tool depends on your specific requirements, familiarity with monitoring tools, and personal preferences. You can try out all three to determine which one best suits your needs. Whether you're a system administrator, a developer, or just a Linux enthusiast, having these tools in your arsenal will undoubtedly help you better understand and manage your Linux systems.

SecOps Solution is an award-winning agent-less Full-stack Vulnerability and Patch Management Platform that helps organizations identify, prioritize and remediate security vulnerabilities and misconfigurations in seconds.

To schedule a demo, just pick a slot that is most convenient for you.

Related Blogs

No items found.