What free software do I like to see on a Windows computer (2 of 2)?

ToolsFollowing on from last week, here is the second half of the list of my favourite free Windows Utilities


Dropbox

I think that the main reason that Dropbox has made such huge inroads into the market for providing “cloud” storage is that their approach makes it easy to grasp what is going on and how to use it. When you install Dropbox, a folder is created (called, not un-unaturally, “Dropbox). You treat this folder just like any other folder except that anything in this folder is copied to “the cloud” and back to the Dropbox folder of any computer that is signed into the same Dropbox account. It works between Windows PCs, Macs, Android devices, and IOS devices, so data can be shared across all those “platforms”.

Source: Dropbox

Licensing: Free for 2gb of storage space (which you can increase by doing things like referring Dropbox to others), or go for a paid plan if you need much more space.


Faststone Image Viewer

Although the interface is beginning to look a bit old, this is still the easiest and most intuitive way that I have found of organising and viewing images on a Windows computer. It’s also got its own image editor. If you hate the way that the likes of Picasa take over your photos, try this free program.

Source: Faststone Image Viewer

Licensing: Free.


Firefox

To my mind, this is still the best web browser. There are loads of add-ons available, thanks to the fact that the browser is “open source” (so anyone can write add-ons for it). This can be a double-edge sword, of course. I have got some add-on in my Firefox that has stopped my Barclays online banking from working for ages. One day I might track it down but, in the meantime, I just find it easier to do online banking via a different browser (Chrome). As I have said before, it is a good idea to have at least two browsers on your computer (probably Microsoft’s Internet Explorer plus one other) so that you can try using the other browser if a particular website mis-behaves using your normal one.

Source: Mozilla Firefox

Licensing: Free


Gadwin PrintScreen

I’m not as happy with this product as I used to be as it has started to become somewhat intrusive (I can’t find a way to stop it popping up every time I re-boot or awaken my computer, for instance). Nevertheless, it’s still a great utility for capturing part of a screen, the whole screen, or a specific window.

Source: Gadwin

Licensing: Free


MalwareBytes

My favourite malware finder and eliminator. If this one leaves something behind, then I install AdAware or Spybot (qv).

Source: Malwarebytes

Licensing: Free


Power ISO

I use this program to make files on disk that can be opened just as if they were CDs or DVDs. This is very useful for having many CDs and DVDs close to hand as they can be permanently stored on a hard drive. This program will also copy and burn CDs and DVDs without any of the nerdiness needed to use Nero Burning (for example).

Source: PowerIso

Licensing: These days it is a paid program, but you can try before you buy. Lucky people (like me) have an older free copy.


SpyBot

If all of the best antimalware programs (Malwarebytes, AdAware, and Spybot) can find 90-95% of malware, then running all three should find about 99% (unless, of course, there are some particularly clever malware programs that can avoid all such programs). I think Spybot has probably been around for the longest time of all such programs.

Source: SpyBot

Licensing: I have only ever used the free version


Treesize Free

Why has Microsoft never included this type of utility as part of Windows? Great for knowing where all your hard drive space has gone as it shows just how big every folder and sub-folder is.

Source: Treesize Free

Licensing: Free


What free software do I like to see on a Windows computer (1 of 2)?

ToolsThere are a few free utilities and programs that I have come to take completely for granted over the years. So, the least I can do for them is to give them a little plug while drawing them to your attention. I’ve mentioned some of them before, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve another mention.

Here, in alphabetical order, is the first half of my list, together with links so that you can download them for yourself. The list will continue in next week’s blog.


AVG Free

This is very good antivirus software in that it does its job and doesn’t hassle you too much with annoying popups or get into nooks and crannies of your system that it really doesn’t need to touch.

Source: AVG Free

Licensing: Free, if you manage to download the correct version. Although less devious than they used to be, you could still very easily aim to install the free version and, 30 days later, find that you are being asked to pay for the paid version as you had actually downloaded the trial version of the paid version instead of the free one. Confused? A cynic might say that that is AVG’s intention when offering the different versions of their product.


Adaware

Anti-malware software. I usually turn to Malwarebytes (see next week’s blog) as my first line of attack on an infected machine, but if I don’t think that Malwarebytes has fixed it then my next line of attack is either Adaware or Spybot (qv)

Source: Lavasoft

Licensing: Free. Make sure you get it from Lavasoft.com or you might get something different that is actually malware


Adobe Reader

Hardly needs mentioning. We all have it and need it because Adobe’s concept of the pdf (portable document format) file has been so successful. Keep it updated for security reasons.

Source: Adobe – but uncheck the box that would otherwise install McAfee Security Scan Plus. Why such a huge and reputable company as Adobe needs to try and foist unwanted and unnecessary software onto you when you download its products is a complete mystery to me. Have these people got no pride?

Licensing: Free. Adobe make their money by selling Adobe Acrobat, which is used to create pdf files (although that situation has become much more complicated now that the format for creating pdf files is open to allcomers – see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_Document_Format).


Belarc Advisor

Tells you loads about the software you have on your machine, including product keys, etc. This can be an invaluable tool on the day that you need to re-install one or more programs.

Source: Belarc Advisor

Licensing: Free


CCleaner

There are many, many products out there that will promise to clean up your machine of the detritus that Windows programs leave behind. Some are good, some are flakey, and some are actually malware. I avoid them all except CCleaner (which I’ve been using for years). Even with CCleaner, though, I uncheck all the options for checking the registry. This is because I belong to the school of thought that says that potentially breaking the registry is too high a price to pay for the small gain in performance that you might gain by cleaning it.

Source: Piriform CCleaner

Licensing: Just go for the free version. Unlike some software publishers, Piriform won’t bend your arm or deceive you in order to get you to go for the paid version.


This list will be concluded next week.

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Computer Support in London
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