Last month we featured some great free tools for identifying and resolving PC problems, as well as overall cleanup of your computer http://blog.idahoit.net/?p=142. This month I thought I’d share some utilities that I consider must haves. Feel free to make suggestions as well.
Does exactly what the name implies. Gets rid of the crap that comes pre loaded on new computer systems. All the free trials, 30 day evaluations and such. Download this app and blast them all away. This is the first thing I would do on any new PC purchased. This app can be used on non new PC’s as well, if you just want to take a look at what has been installed over the years check a few boxes and clean up the mess. http://Pcdecrapifier.com
If you are like me, you probably have multiple chat accounts. AIM, Yahoo Messenger, Live Messenger, Google Talk and Facebook Chat to name a few. Instead of having 5+ different applications open, Digsby combines all of these into a single application, making it extremely convenient. Its minimalist design keeps the clutter down and its low on resource utilization means very fast load time. Other noteworthy app in this category are Trillian and Pidgin, however, I prefer Digsby. http://www.digsby.com/
My preference and what I use day in and out is Google Chrome. Its super fast and I love being able to drag the tabs out to new windows. The downside is that there are applications that do not play nice with Chrome. There is a huge following for Firefox which is a great browser as well. My suggestion is to avoid IE and use one of these two browsers. http://www.google.com/chrome or http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/
Windows Security Essentials
For the low price of Free home users and small businesses ( less than 10 PC’s ) can use Windows Security Essentials for their antivirus software. Microsoft actually does a great job of protecting your PC and it integrates well with Windows Firewall. http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/security_essentials/default.aspx
Also worth taking a look at is Viper Enterprise edition. We highly recommend this, as it’s proven to detect and prevent more malicious software than any other title we’ve tried, as well as using less system resources than any other title we’ve tried. Meaning it has done a better job without slowing down the system. It’s extremely cost effective, but not free like Windows Security Essentials. http://www.sunbeltsoftware.com/business/vipre-enterprise/
Dropbox is great, I use it daily. I drop files, music, images into my drop box on my PC and its then synced with all my other dropbox locations including my iPhone, iPad and other PC’s. For example I have a folder for technical and phone manuals. I can drop a new manual into my dropbox folder in the office and its near instantly available on my iPad to take with me on the road. https://www.dropbox.com/
I use this to burn all my CD/DVD’s. Its light, easy and doesn’t get confusing with all the bells and whistles that expensive software comes with. It works and its free. http://infrarecorder.org/
Lastly is Ninite. Want to install all the apps I’ve listed here in one easy process? Go visit http://ninite.com Simply check the box next to the apps you want to install and click Get Installer. Run the installer and the apps you selected will be downloaded and installed. Very easy, very fast and very cool. What’s even cooler is if you already have an app installed, and you tell Ninite to install it again it will instead check if there are any updates the the application and update it for you.