My Favourite free utilities and programs (1 of 2)

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.


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 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

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


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.