Essential Windows Software

Discussion in 'Technical Reference Threads' started by The Night Funky, Nov 8, 2013.

  1. The Night Funky

    The Night Funky BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Programs that you think every Windows PC should have.

    *******A WORD OF WARNING!!!!!*******

    Several formerly considered "safe" sources for downloading software, like download.com, have taken to wrapping the programs available on their sites with what's called doucheware. What this means is that instead of getting just the program you want, the wrapper will try to trick you into installing toolbar "helpers," spyware, adware, and other crap you absolutely, positively, do not want. If you read through the various messages that pop up as you're trying to install the program, you can sometimes avoid installing the doucheware. Avoid installing software from those sources if its at all possible. * Indicates new item added to a post in the past 30 days.

    Security Software
    AdBlock Plus is a plugin for every major web browser out there. Not only does it keep web pages from being cluttered up with ads for products you neither want nor need, it also protects you from ads infected with malware.

    CCleaner, formerly known as "Crap Cleaner". This helps get rid of the cruft that tends to build up on PCs over time, if your machine is particularly bogged down, it can even speed it up.

    Process Explorer, what Task Manager in Windows should have been. Not only does it show you what processes are currently running on your machine (Task Manager only shows you a few of them), but it shows you which ones are sucking up the most RAM and processor cycles. It lets you kill those that you don't want running. (Handy, because some times Task Manager won't say that a program is still running, while Process Explorer will reveal that a sub-program of something you closed out is still running.)

    SpyBot Search & Destroy helps protect your PC from malware in two different ways. The first is that it tweaks your system settings to reduce avenues of attack for malware, and it scans your PC for malware that might already be on there. The initial set up takes forever to run, because it does a deep scan of your system.

    WinPatrol, an excellent defense against doucheware. It alerts you to things like new start up programs trying to add themselves to your system, or if a program is trying to become the default program for opening a file type. Handy if you didn't realize that you've installed doucheware that tries to change something on your system.

    PC Decrapifier, perfect if you've got a new PC. Before you do anything on your new PC (besides turning it on) download this and let it run. It will go through your system and make it easy to delete all the crappy software offers that manufacturers stick on machines these days. Trust me, you don't want the anti-virus programs they're offering, there's free alternatives out there which are just as good, and in some cases, don't bog your system down as much as the paid programs do.

    Secunia PSI, because not every software program auto-updates in the background, Secunia periodically compares the version of a program installed on your machine with the most recent release by the vendor and alerts if you there's a new version or updates for it available. Can be annoying in that it'll warn you that a program isn't up to date (and thus more likely to be a victim of malware), even though its a program you hardly use, or one that will auto-update the next time you launch it.

    *LastPass A password manager and generator. An absolute must-have. No matter how cleaver you are, you're going to pick a password which, thanks to the increasing amount of computing power available to hackers these days, can be cracked in a short period of time. LastPass also remembers all your passwords for you, so you don't have to try and figure out what they are when you set up a new PC. Just install LastPass on your new machine, log in, and it'll take care of the rest.

    *TrueCrypt. Got a laptop? Ever take it out of the house? Then you need Truecrypt. Even if you password protect your machine, someone can still gain access to all your files on it by removing the hard drive and installing it in another machine. Truecrypt not only encrypts your entire hard drive so that nobody else can read it, but it enables you to create hidden drives on your system that only you know about. Remember kids, SCOTUS has ruled that forcing you to enter in your computer's password is a violation of your Fifth Amendment rights, so protect yourself by using a password and not a fingerprint reader.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
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  2. The Night Funky

    The Night Funky BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Audio/Video Software
    VLC Plays pretty much every kind of video/audio file out there, except for those with DRM or some kind of screwball codec. If you want to play something with a screwball codec, you probably need to spend more time outside. Just sayin'.

    DVD Decrypter. Allows you to rip DVDs to your PC.

    AnyDVD HD. Want to watch a Blu-Ray DVD, but your system doesn't like the cable you have installed (because it doesn't support DRM)? AnyDVD HD fixes that little problem as well as a few others. Its not free, but worth it to buy.

    Handbrake Once you've ripped that DVD, you might want to change the file format so that you can play it on your smartphone or tablet. Handbrake lets you do that easily.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
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  3. The Night Funky

    The Night Funky BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Web Browsers
    Even if you love IE, you should have at least one other web browser installed in case IE gets hit with something nasty and you can't figure out how to get rid of it.

    Opera has a built-in RSS reader and email client, not commonly used, so less likely to be deliberately targeted by malware developers. Right clicking on images allows you to block them (handy if someone has a big ass photo in their sig, you'll never have to see it again if you don't want to).

    Google Chrome Google's web browser, has one of the largest selections of plug-ins available, required if you're going to use some of Google's services.

    Firefox, the grandpappy of the intarwebs, loads of plug-ins, and rarely has trouble loading a page because it wasn't coded properly.

    Sleipnir uses some of the same code as Google Chrome, but allows more customization of its UI than Chrome does.

    *Torch Browser is a freeware Chromium-based web browser and Internet suite developed by Torch Media. The browser handles common Internet-related tasks such as displaying websites, sharing websites via social networks, downloading torrents, accelerating downloads and grabbing online media, all directly from the browser. Torch Browser is commercial freeware. Early versions of the browser have received mixed reviews, with some praising its interesting feature
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  4. ed629

    ed629 Morally Inept Banned

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    Web Browsers

    Torch Browser is a freeware Chromium-based web browser and Internet suite developed by Torch Media. The browser handles common Internet-related tasks such as displaying websites, sharing websites via social networks, downloading torrents, accelerating downloads and grabbing online media, all directly from the browser. Torch Browser is commercial freeware. Early versions of the browser have received mixed reviews, with some praising its interesting feature combination while others decrying its lack of add-on support (an issue which has been resolved in the newer version).
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  5. The Night Funky

    The Night Funky BMF Staff Member Moderator

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    Productivity Software

    Kingsoft Office A free MS Office compatible word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software suite.

    OpenOffice One of the oldest free MS Office competitors out there.

    LibreOffice A fork of OpenOffice, it was created when OpenOffice was bought by Apache and people were afraid that OpenOffice was going to be left to wither on the vine. (You'll need a BitTorrent client to download LibreOffice, uTorrent is free and highly rated.)

    Evernote A very basic wordprocessor, but has the advantage of being able to by synced across multiple machines and devices. Also allows you to do the same with photos and audio recordings.

    Foxit PDF Reader Adobe's Acrobat PDF reader is bloatware and a frequent target of malware. Foxit's Reader is smaller and has yet to be targeted.

    Classic Shell Got Windows 8? Think you know more about how you use a computer than the folks in Redmond? Wish Windows 8 looked like Windows 7? Classic Shell is a free program that brings back the Start button and Start Menu to Windows.

    Start8 Is a paid program that also returns the Start button and Menu to Windows 8.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013