Roundup: 15 Must-Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Over the last three years, the writers here at MakeUseOf have profiled thousands of software apps on the website. With all these thousands being presented to you, it’s hard to decide which apps to use and which ones to discard. To make it easier for you, we have managed to compile a list of the top 15 absolute must-have tools for everyday tasks.

[Update: Check out our newly published The Best Of Windows Software that lists apps below and more.]

15 programs   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

These are the essential programs that we recommend you install and keep on your arsenal.

    1. Firefox / Chrome (Web Browser)
    2. AVG Anti-Virus (Anti-virus Software)
    3. Auslogics Disk Defrag (Disk Defragmenter)
    4. Glary Utilities (System Maintenance)
    5. Malwarebytes (Spyware Removal)
    6. IZArc (Universal Archiver / Extractor)
    7. Google Picasa Software (Photo Management)
    8. doPDF (PDF Printer)
    9. Memento (Post-It Notes)
    10. xVideoServiceThief (YouTube Video Downloader)
    11. Mozy (Backup)
    12. Digsby (Multi-protocol Instant Messenger)
    13. VLC Media Player (Video Player)
    14. Foobar2000 (Music Player)
    15. ImgBurn (CD / DVD Image Burner)
    16-20. Plus 5 Bonus Programs

1. Firefox / Chrome (Web Browser)

Both Firefox and Google Chrome are excellent browsers. They are both fast, user-friendly and known to be secure. So, which one do you choose? The rule of thumb here is that you should use Firefox if you’re looking to add additional features (i.e. ad blocker, password manager, video downloader, page translator etc.) to your browser.

browsers   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

You can see all add-ons for Firefox at https://addons.mozilla.org/. There are extensions for Google Chrome as well, but the choice is rather limited. See, 10 Cool Extensions for Google Chrome.

2. AVG Anti-Virus (Anti-virus Software)

AVG Free Anti-Virus is the most popular free anti-virus software in the world. It’s also the most downloaded software program according to Download.com.

avg antivirus   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Most of the MakeUseOf authors use AVG and we highly recommend it to others. It’s easy to use, consumes a relatively small amount of system resources and auto-updates itself with virus definitions on a daily basis. Install it once and it will keep your system secure without your intervention.

For those of you who frequently shop online and do regular online banking, AVG recommends AVG Internet Security. While it’s not free, it does offer complete Internet Protection that will keep you safe even from advanced online threats.

avg antivirus2   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Download AVG Free

(Platform: Windows only)

3. Auslogics Disk Defrag (Disk Defragmenter)

Auslogics Disk Defrag is a must-have free PC maintenance tool that was designed to cure system sluggishness and prevent crashes caused by disk fragmentation. Windows already comes with its own disk-defragmenter but Auslogics Disk Defrag is considerably faster and much more efficient.

It’s extremely simple to use, does not require any analysis phase and is faster than most of the other disk defragmentation software.

auslogics disk defrag   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

While there are several other free disk defragmenters, Auslogics seems to be the defragmenter of choice according to the poll results on MakeUseOf, Lifehacker and mega tech sites like CNET.

Download Auslogics Disk Defrag

(Platform: Windows only)

4. Glary Utilities (System Maintenance)

Glary Utilities is a free system maintenance tool for protecting, cleaning, repairing, and speeding up your PC. It comes with a one-click maintenance option that automatically runs all optimizations and repair jobs with a click of a button.

glary utilities   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

But the best thing about Glary Utilities is that it integrates over 15 other useful tools that nearly every computer user is likely to make use of. These are:

- Uninstall Manager
- Startup Manager
- Memory Optimizer
- Context Menu Manager
- Registry Defrag Tool
- Track Eraser
- File Shredder
- File Undelete
- File Encrypt/Decrypt Tool
- Disk Space Usage Analysis
- Duplicate File Finder
- Empty Folder Finder
- File Splitter and Joiner

Highly recommended!

glary utilities 2   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Please note, it’s highly recommended that you create a System Restore point when using system maintenance tools like Glary Utilities. This is a precaution to ensure that you can always revert your PC to an earlier state in case something goes wrong unexpectedly.

Note: During the installation process make sure to uncheck the Ask Search toolbar.

Download Glary Utilities

(Platform: Windows only)

5. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (Spyware Removal)

[update: In the original list we recommended the Spyware 360 as a primary tool for fighting spyware. But then we found out that Security 360 was actually using the definition library of Malwarebytes.]

Malwarebytes currently ranks among the top 10 most downloaded software on Download.com. It’s a very simple tool that does an important job, that is protecting your computer from spyware, hijackers, keyloggers and other kind of malicious craplets.

malwarebytes   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

What makes Malwarebytes standout from the pack is its huge library of threats to protect against. That’s exactly what it makes so effective when it comes to detecting spyware that other spyware scanners miss. This same library made the earlier recommended Security 360 a powerful tool.

Malwarebytes may not be as feature-laden as say Spybot Search and Destroy (another good spyware removal tool), which has a ridiculous number of tools, but it is a very lightweight alternative with good spyware coverage.

There are both free and premium versions. The only difference between the two is real time protection. With real-time protection, Malwarebytes will alert you about the spyware before it’s even able to install itself on your system.

malwarebytes2   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Download MalwareBytes

(Platform: Windows only)

6. IZArc (Universal Archiver / Extractor)

One archive utility to rule them all. This archiver suppots both popular (ZIP, RAR, ACE, 7-ZIP, TAR etc.) and less popular (IMG, ACE, TZ, GZ, TAZ etc.) archive formats.

izarc archiver   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Basically this unpacker/archiver gives you everything you get with other popular archivers (ex. Winzip, Winrar etc.) but with additional features and support for a huge number of archive formats. It can decompress archived folders in over 40 formats.

7-ZIP, A, ACE, ARC, ARJ, B64, BH, BIN, BZ2, BZA, C2D, CDI, CAB, CPIO, DEB, ENC, GCA, GZ, GZA, HA, IMG, ISO, JAR, LHA, LIB, LZH, MBF, MDF, MIM, NRG, PAK, PDI, PK3, RAR, RPM, TAR, TAZ, TBZ, TGZ, TZ, UUE, WAR, XXE, YZ1, Z, ZIP, ZOO

That is to say, it supports pretty much every format you’re likely to come across.

There is something else, you can also use the IZArc utility to open CD image files like ISO, BIN, CDI and NRG. Do you know of any other free archiver that can do that?

Note: When installing IZArc make sure to uncheck the “recommended” option to install PalTalk.

Download IZArc

(Platform: Windows only)

7. Google Picasa Software (Photo Management)

Picasa automatically finds all the photos on your PC, wherever they are, and organizes them in seconds. It’s an excellent photo manager, editor and viewer for your computer.

With Picasa not only you can nicely organize your photos but also fix common problems (i.e. red eyes), add cool effects and even browse photos by people in them. Yes, it includes face recognition!

picasa 3   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Plus one really cool thing about it is that regardless of changes you make to your photos on Picasa the original version of each photo always preserved.

Features include:

- create video slideshows and photo collages from your photos.
- organize photos based on the people in them.
- browse photos by folders, albums, people.
- geotag your photos on Google Maps.
- one-click fixes for common problems like red-eye, color, and lighting.
- 12 cool effects to make your best photos look even better.

You can find out more about Picasa by watching this Youtube video. The Google team compiled a getting started guide for Picasa. Highly recommended for new users.

Download: http://picasa.google.com/

(Platform: Windows / Mac / Linux)

8. doPDF (PDF Printer)

Almost everyone once in a while needs to convert documents to PDF. The doPDF is the easiest tool that does exactly that. It installs a virtual printer on your computer that you can select using the print option from any program on Windows.

dopdf   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Whenever you need to convert a web page, Word document, Excel spreadsheet, photo or pretty much anything else to a PDF file just go to the print option in your program and select doPDF from the ‘Printer’ drop-down menu.

You can set the resolution to anything from 72 dpi to 2400 dpi, and the “printed” files are text searchable.

Download doPDF

(Platform: Windows only)

9. Memento (Post-It Notes)

Chances are you have never heard about this program before. Memento is a simple bare-bones post-it notes program for your desktop. It’s better than anything else out there because it’s extremely simple and yet a very effective tool.

memento   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Whether you want a program to keep track of your tasks or quick note taking, Memento can help. It’s very intuitive to use and consumes very few system resources. Highly recommended!

It’s an excellent program – and I’ve compared many other free ones! I have been using this for the last 5 years and recommend it to everyone. The very first MakeUseOf article was about this app :-).

It’s also easily transferable from one PC to another, it saves all your notes in Memento.notes file that is stored in the My Documents folder.

Features:

- double click memento icon on the taskbar to create a note
- show/hide notes on the desktop
- keep notes expanded or closed
- notes always remain on top of other windows
- position notes anywhere you like
- instant autosave
- notes are resizable
- randomly makes each note a new color
- make notes transparent

Download Memento Notes

(Platform: Windows only)

10. xVideoServiceThief (YouTube Video Downloader)

Almost everyone is on Youtube these days. And the fact that Youtube has more searches than Yahoo is good indication of this. The only issue with Youtube is that there is no option to download videos so that you can watch them on your computer, PSP, iPhone, mobile phone, iPod etc.

Fortunately there are lots of free software for that, and my favorite is xVideoServiceThief. Apart from downloading videos, it can automatically convert the downloaded video file to another format.

xvideoservicethief2   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

xVideoServiceThief can convert videos to several formats, including AVI, MOV, MPEG, DIVX, MP4 and several others.

xvideoservicethief3   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Moreover, xVideoServiceThief works with other sites as well, not only Youtube. It can also download videos from Yahoo Video, Google Videos, Metacafe, Dailymotion, CollegeHumor etc.

Download xVideoServiceThief

(Platform: Windows / Mac / Linux)

11. Mozy (Backup)

Backups are very important! Here on MakeUseOf we have published dozens of articles explaining why you should always keep a fresh backup of important data. And Mozy is the perfect program for that. It’s an online backup and recovery service that allows you to select files and folders on your computer and safely back them up online.

mozy backup   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

It’s fully automated, just set it once and it will do the backups without bothering you again. What’s even better, whenever you make changes to individual documents or files within selected folders, your changes will be replicated on your backup copy as well. So your backup always stays up-to-date.

mozy progress   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

In the case of file corruption, accidental deletion or hardware failure, you may easily restore your backed up files from the web to the original computer or any another computer, be it a Windows or Mac.

Mozy offers both free and premium accounts (only $4.95/month). The only difference between those two is that free account comes only with 2GBs of storage space. It should be more than enough for backing up important files and documents. On the other hand, if you want to backup your music library, photos, videos or maybe an entire drive then we recommend signing up for a premium account.

(Note: Discount for MakeUseOf users. When signing up for premium account use ‘ MAKEUSEOF’ (all caps) promo code to get 10% off.)

Download Mozy (Free up to 2 GBs)
Download Mozy (Unlimited)

(Platform: Windows / Mac)

12. Digsby (Multi-protocol Instant Messenger)

If you chat on a regular basis and are active on social networks then this is a must-have program for you. There is so much this app does that it’s hard to explain it all in a few lines. Firstly, it’s a universal instant messenger that allows you to chat with your friends on MSN, Yahoo, AIM, Google Talk, Facebook, Myspace, ICQ and Jabber, all from a single messenger.

digsby im   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

Secondly, it allows you to read and reply to your emails. That’s right folks, whether you have a Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail account you can receive and reply to emails all from Digsby’s slick interface. Currently Disgby works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, AOL/AIM Mail, POP Email, IMAP Mail accounts.

digsby emails   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

And that’s not all, you may also monitor alerts and set status message notifications for Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and LinkedIN accounts. Pretty cool, huh!

Other less important but still noteworthy features include:

- chat history (with search option)
- file transfer history to keep a log of sent/received files
- a widget for site owners to chat with visitors

(Note: Pay close attention when installing Digsby on your computer and make sure to deselect (selected on default) the additional components you don’t need. Plus, once the app is installed go to the preferences window and disable Digsby research.)

Download Digsby

(Platform: Windows / Mac / Linux)

13. VLC Media Player (Video Player)

With over 67 million downloads so far and roughly 7 downloads per second it’s one of the most popular video players around.

VLC is a highly portable multimedia player supporting most audio and video formats and can play pretty much any video files you throw at it, including physical media like DVDs. Plus it doesn’t need any external codec, program or codec pack to work.<

vlc media player   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

The VLC can be used both by beginners as well as expert users for working with video files.

The player can also play Youtube videos, convert video files, play subtitles, etc.

Download VLC Player

14. Foobar2000 (Music Player)

The foobar2000 is an advanced audio player for Windows and supports pretty much all popular audio formats. This is an audio player of choice for many audiophiles (the reader polls on MakeUseOf and Lifehacker confirm that). But what’s in it for you? Well, leaving aside its rich feature set, there are two things that make it stand out from the crowd.

foobar   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

First, when it comes to the appearance of the player, it’s HIGHLY customizable. There is NO OTHER audio player out there that can be customized as much. The Foobar2000 lets you change everything starting from buttons, layout, background colors, menus to visualization details.

But the best thing about this gem, it needs very little of your system resources when compared to Windows Media Player, iTunes or Winamp.

The Foobar2000 has also plug-ins for iPod support and things like lyrics and album art. There is also a portable version if you prefer to carry it on your thumbdrive.

Download Foobar2000

(Platform: Windows only)

15. ImgBurn (CD / DVD Image Burner)

There are many reasons we need a simple, fast way to burn disks. ImgBurn is a CD/DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-ray burning application that is fast, lightweight, and completely free.

imgburn   Roundup: 15 Must Have Free Software Programs for Your PC

With ImgBurn you can:

- backup your data or media files to DVD.
- backup your DVD movies to your PC.
- create Audio CDs from any music files such as MP3, WAV.
- create a duplicate copy of any DVD or music CD
- create video discs (DVD / HD DVD / Blu-ray) playable in your DVD player

ImgBurn supports a variety of image formats and almost all types of discs, so you don’t need to look any further for your disc burning needs. There is also a portable version that you can carry with you on your USB drive. For additional details see the MakeUseOf ImgBurn review here.

(Platform: Windows / Linux)

Download ImgBurn

BONUS (+ 5 programs)

16. Revo – Free powerful uninstaller for Windows. It can uninstall programs that you are not able to remove using Windows’ default program manager.

17. OpenOffice – Free alternative to Microsoft Office. Though requires some adjustments to program settings before it can fully replace the Microsoft Office.

18. Foxit – This one is basically a lightweight replacement to Adobe PDF reader. With Foxit you may launch PDF documents as fast as notepad files.

19. Spyware Terminator – A compliment to the above mentioned Malwarebytes. It’s not as comprehensive but comes with real-time malware detection and fast daily scans.

20. Portable Apps – A huge collection of free programs that you can carry on your USB thumbdrive. The suite includes several of the above apps, plus many more. Carry your favorite computer programs along with all of your bookmarks, settings, email and more with you where ever you go. Use them on any Windows computer without leaving any personal data behind.

So there you go, the top 15 that you should have on your system and use on a frequent basis. Since everyone is different with different needs, you will probably disagree with us on some of these choices. If so, head on down to the comments section below and let us know which apps you would put in their place and why.

If you like this article, please spread it around and share it with your friends. It took us us a while to get it done and test all the apps thoroughly.

[Update: Check out our newly published The Best Of Windows Software that lists apps below and more.]

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If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

127 Comments -

0 votes

alexandrius

Browser must be Opera

0 votes

Karl J

Sorry to say, but americans and asians seems to be not so streetwise when it comes to which programs are the best ones. People should really read about Opera browser to find out themselves.

Google Chrome browser certainly is still a beta, not so recommendable except for those webpages you know works good within the browser.

0 votes

Gregor

Loving your list.. here’s my addition to it:

CCleaner instead of Advanced SystemCare Free;
Spybot S&D instead of Security 360;
7zip instead of IZArc;
IrfanView and picasa!;
Notepad instead of Memento;
Mozy and Dropbox for backups ;);
eBuddy instead of Digsby (on phone);
ImgBurn AND InfraRecorder!!!

0 votes

Aibek

thanks, most seem like good altrnatives. I still stand by Memento though, u gotta try it :-) The reason I chose IZArc instead of 7zip is because it supports more archive formats. Though might be slighly lagging behind on compression ratio.

0 votes

Meh list

I second 7-Zip. Just because it supports more archive formats doesn’t make it better.

I also second whoever said Pidgin instead of Digsby.

Replace Revo with MyUninstaller. The design of the website for Revo screams “don’t trust us/we love spyware!”

I also don’t trust ANY registry cleaner. They are all broken and ALWAYS break the system in some way. The problem(s) might not be noticed for months or years but the system is ALWAYS damaged by such tools. You should drop your recommendations from your list.

I also don’t trust real-time scanners. But that is because I know to not open strange attachments, etc.

What?! No anti-spam recommendation such as Spambayes?

Also, I would be lost without Taskbar Shuffle.

0 votes

Nick

hmmmm. I tried that Izarc but had to go back to 7zip as it didn’t have the ‘Extract here’ feature when right click dragging to a different location. Something I use all the time.

0 votes

Aibek

i think it has that feature

0 votes

Randal Lewis

I third 7-Zip; fantastic program; for the average person that mostly uses zip format files the program is great and easy to use.

0 votes

Vishnu

IZarc has that feature, but I would prefer 7zip as it supports more formats and compression ratios is better.

0 votes

Ckaluhi

Pidgin is better than Digsby functionality wise, and that it has no extra surprises when you install (OSS software). IZarc can compress to 7z files, but i dont remember the compression ratio.

0 votes

Aibek

Few people asked me about that New York wallpapers, just search google images for ‘neywork wallpapers’ it should be somewhere there among the results.

0 votes

Asish

got it!

0 votes

andres

My list:
1. Firefox
2. Avast
3. UltimateDefrag
4. TuneUp
5. Malwarebyte Anti-Malware
6. Winrar and 7zip
7. Google Picasa Software
8. doPDF
9. Memento
10. aTube Catcher
11. Dropbox
12. Pidgin
13. VLC Media Player
14. Foobar2000 or AIMP
15. ImgBurn or CDBurnerXP

0 votes

Sean

I agree to all of the above except no one has mentioned PowerIso. which allows you to mount images and burn images

0 votes

Nick

agreed but magic ISO completely free and just as good imo.

0 votes

Cid

Last I checked Spybot does have real time protection…it’s called tea-timer and seems to work pretty well.

0 votes

Kristian

You should post this somewhere, if you haven’t already:
http://ninite.com/

0 votes

Tyler Pew

This is awesome!!

0 votes
0 votes

gouthami.b

Foobar2000 new to me.wanna try..coming to backup i prefer offline backup…

0 votes

thom

“These are the essential programs that we recommend you install and keep on your arsenal.”

On Your arsenal? Why is everything these days in military terms? Are not these tools designed to build? Arsenals contain things that explode, to tear down or destroy. There are books written about using figures of speech. You who use words as tools of communication might consider adding this to your “arsenal” before you go around destroying what is left of the English language.

0 votes

Willis Whitlock

In this case, the “arsenal” is used to contain defensive weapons. Internet security is rightly portrayed with military terms.

The term is imprecise in that titles such as Picasa are included. (One does not usually do battle with a picture organizer.)

Your claim that English is somehow doomed to destruction is disproved by your example. English speakers have always played with the meaning of words. This use of “arsenal” here speaks to the continued life of the language, not it’s death.

0 votes

Charax

It should, however, be “in your arsenal”, not “on”

0 votes

Willis Whitlock

Good catch.

0 votes

thom

It is, after all, your article. You have all the right to choose the figures of speech that you employ.
And out of the fifteen programs that you recommend there are defensive weapons that I would include in my arsenal against bad guys. My point is, in my humble opinion, that when you own a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And when you use figures of speech that invoke thoughts of war, there can be no peace. And I am not a bleeding heart.

0 votes

ron di ijcks

thom,
why does this poster have to justify his writing style to you?
You have nothing better to do but insult his syntax? He spent time and supplied his list of tools that take a classical “active” defense to protecting certain threats to (mostly windoze based weaknesses) caused by our need to access teh WWW. I always find it interesting why people have to attack others for their efforts, in ways that have nothing to do with the actual effort. He provides a list of tested tools to help protect and make using your computer easier and all you have done is punish him for using your version of improper syntax..

Go away.

0 votes

Atraktos

Ok…here are my own problems with the list:

4. Advanced SystemCare Free (System Maintenance)
5. Security 360 (Spyware Removal)

Both of these products are from Iobit, the company who -as it seems- stole Malwarebytes’ definition files (http://www.malwarebytes.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=29681). I’m in no position to tell if they are right or wrong (although they seem to have strong arguments and proofs there), but in the meantime and till someone officially decides, I would not recommend their products.

2. AVG Anti-Virus (Anti-virus Software)

AVG used to be effective a few years ago (along with Avast), but in the meantime Avira Antivir managed to become No.1 among the freeware antivirus (for personal use), if we believe at least the AV-Comparatives’ tests for about 2-3 years now. Popularity is a factor totally irrelevant to the success of an antivirus product.

3. Auslogics Disk Defrag (Disk Defragmenter)

I would presonally suggest MyDefrager (http://www.mydefrag.com/). Much more effective and versatile.

0 votes
0 votes

Lee

Auslogics has updated their Disk Defrag to version 3. Now it is as thorough as MyDefrag, but *much* nicer looking and has more features.

0 votes

Aibek

@Atraktos

Thanks for the feedback on IObit and ASC, we are going to address that concern int the next few days.

0 votes

Larry B.

I checked Security 360 and it was accused of stealing definition files from Malware Bytes, and they recognized it was true. They issued and apology and said they won’t do that again.

Despite that, I tried downloading it and the link isn’t working…

So… not too reliable, I’d say.

The rest of the list seems great :)

0 votes

Aibek

just checked the download link, it works!

0 votes

Lisa

This is a great list! Thanks!

I do have to add, though, that I have no idea how people live without Dropbox and Launchy.

0 votes

RougeCrown

UHm as far as i know, if you install Flashgot extension for Firefox, you can grab the link to any embedded video files on the website on the go. Do we really need to install an application for that?

My list:
1. Firefox
2. Flashget
3. Digsby
4. Microsoft security essential
5. CCleaner
6. 7zip
7. Foxit reader
8. Revo uninstaller

Thats all… additional iCandies like Launchy r not necessary xD

0 votes

Aibek

why I prefer xVideoServiceThief towrads the browser addon it’s due to rich set of features.

0 votes

Karl J

I certainly hope Microsoft Essentials can go into the list beside AVG Antivirus. It works good in the background and seem to catch the most dangerous viruses and spywares around.

0 votes

Lee Mathews

Where did all the negative comments against IOBIT software go? There were at least three last time I checked this post.

0 votes

Aibek

What do you mean where do they go? We DONT delete negative comment unless they contain explicit language or insulting our authors.

0 votes

Lee Mathews

IOBIT uses SEO tricks to bring visitors to their website. They even stoop to using ‘hentai’ as a term: http://74.125.93.132/search?q=cache:oGYNoDRERIAJ:www.iobit.com/naruto-hentai.html+http://www.iobit.com/naruto-hentai.html&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca

FAIL. IOBIT software does not belong on your system. No reputable security company would do that.

0 votes

Hiqutipie

Nice work…Most people have no idea that most of us use basically the same tools with the alternatives not being much different…

I use Stickies instead of Memento…

Realplayer downloader has an ipod converter…

Revo Uninstaller should have been on that list…Clears all traces for the most part of uninstalled programs…

Filehippo & Update Notifier should also have been on the list: To keep all software updated…

SIW for system information is another…

0 votes

Mark O'Neill

Lee, we don’t censor negative comments (unless they are verbally abusive and / or explicit language). So the comments were probably not here to begin with as they would not have ordinarily been removed :-)

0 votes

Anupam

The list is good, but as posted by some people already, I would also like to say that AVG was considered a good antivirus earlier, but now, Avast and Avira are considered much better than AVG. Avast and Avira are certainly the better options at present times… AVG has lost its way somehow. Avast should be given the place IMO. Avira is also good, but suffers from false positives, and also problems with updates.

About IObit Security 360… after the recent events which happened between MBAM and IObit regarding Security 360… IObit does not seem like a good choice. Infact, IObit have released a new version with changes in its database… and as per some tests, the detection rate has gone quite low with this change.
Also, with the latest version, there is no toolbar included.
MBAM should be there in place of Security 360.

0 votes

Aibek

updated: Security 360 was removed, MBAM took its place.

0 votes

John

Nice work on this all

SIdenote: On the desktop image on the top, what did you do to create that toolbar instead of the desktop icons.

0 votes

Aibek

well, it’s a combination pf places and plain shortcut icons. :-)

Aibek

0 votes

Ben l Awesome Wallpapers

Pretty nice list. I have quite a few of these programs. Only problems though:
3. I would recommend Defraggler, (By Piriform) instead of Auslogics Disk Defrag
4. After what Iobit has done, I will never use one of their programs again.
5. After what Iobit has done, I will never use one of their programs again.

Also, to add to this list:
1.CCleaner
2.ObjectDock
3.Ultimate Windows Tweaker
————————————————————

If you want the wallpaper that’s in the screenshot, I have uploaded it on my blog. Here is the link:

0 votes
0 votes

manwithcake

I agree with those who say the list is sub-par. There are several programs (IM, Picture organizer, Youtube video downloader – seriously?) that I would never consider “essential.” Also agree that the IOBIT programs included should be dumped.

Agree that Avira has become tops in Freeware AV’s, however, the constant nagging to upgrade (yes, I’m aware of the method to disable this…irrelevant) and frequent problems with automatic updates detract from its value, imo. I prefer Avast. Safe hex is the best AV.

Different people will have different “essentials” of course, but how you could leave off any office-type software is beyond me. Youtube downloader is essential but a word processor isn’t? Open Office/AbiWord.

I also prefer Aimp2 over Foobar and Media Player Classic home cinema to VLC, though I have both. Agree that SIW should also be a part of this list. I would add a clipboard program…my preference is for Yankee Clipper III. Also agree that Revo Uninstaller should be included. I would also include the Gimp, but not everyone has a need for it…though it’s as certainly “essential” as a youtube downloader.

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Aibek

Let me explain why we have excluded open office and left youtube downloader.

Our list is for everyone and almost everyone is on Youtube these days. People want to know how to download vides, how to add them to mobile, watch them on iPhone etc. Thus it’s considered essential.

As for the OpenOffice you have a valid point, it’s essential. The reason we excluded is because it has a learning curve. We couldn’t recommend it before actually releasing a manual for it (coming soon) explaining all the basics i.e.

- how to open MOffice files
- how to save files to make them compatible with MOffice
- etc etc etc

Aibek

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nonick

Agree with manwithcake. I would add some kind of .pdf reader.

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Aibek

There is Foxit, but I don’t really consider it must-have.

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Atraktos

Once again I feel the need to point out that the IoBit products should be left out, by modifying the initial list. It’s very irresponsible for any unaware user to propose products who run in the shade, at least for now. There are plenty of anti-malware (aSquared, Spybot S&D, SUPERAntispyware, Malwarebytes Antimalware etc) that do perfect job with their free editions and should be there instead, especially now that IoBit confessed that it did steal. So how is it possible that you still haven’t updated your list. It’s one thing to be unaware and another to intentionally not change your mind and allow risky suggestions to exist.

Also, there are real time monitors of malware, like ThreatFire or PrevX. They might not remove the stuff that already exists, as free editions, but they will certainly prevent anything from entering.

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Guilh1

I disagree with the choice of AVG Anti-Virus (Anti-virus Software).

I am using Avira anti Virus now, free as well and I find much more efficient and secure.

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themysticgeek

Well a very good post.
Though I don’t understand the purpose of another individual spyware removal software when AVG provides reliable protection against spyware too. Security 360 will end up using a lot of memory.
Also for the video download the Videodownloadhelper extension for firefox works best. It is very easy to use, it can download almost any video the browser plays. xVideoServiceThief lacks this. For conversion you can use any of the many free utilities.
For backup dropbox works best. Sure mozy is automated and provides greater speed but to do this it also runs many background processes.
For an IM client i would prefer pidgin portable lacks the decorations but does the job.
KMplayer is prefferable over VLC. This player isn’t talked bout a lot in geeky circles but do check it out. It provides much more functionality than VLC does. If u still wanna root for VLC go for the portable version.
You might wanna add Foxit Reader for pdf

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Zia

@themysticgeek

Doesn’t Videodownloadhelper creates a nasty stamp on each video downloaded?

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themysticgeek

The stamp will come only if you use Videodownoadhelper to convert videos. If u just wanna download then it is one of the best addons for it.

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Gautam

Web of Trust has given a poor rating in terms of Trustworthiness and Vendor reliability for iobit. (http://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/iobit.com). Would this spyware removal utility be safe in future? Also I think Avira is now better than AVG. AVG has become more focused on it’s commercial versions. When it started it was the best Antivirus software available for free.

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uttaradhaka

Instead of Advanced SystemCare, you should have included Glary Utilities which is a freeware that can do everything from routine cleaning to file undelete.. It is probably the most fully featured free utility out there.

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Alternative

@Aibek

It’s obvious that you have done your best in order to make a list that is interesting enough, and we are all thankful, especially if you consider that you “donate” your free time for the benefit of all, but it’s more than obvious also that when it comes down to Iobit you didn’t do your research. It’s ok…mistakes happen. The problem is that you still have left the list as it is, when you should have modified it in order to stop promoting Iobit’s products. Don’t just leave it like that man. There are ignaratn users out there who will fall into the trap of using Iobit’s programs, just because they trust Makeuseof, when their reliability has reached zero point, after admitting of stealing/cheating. Is this the kind of programs and attitude that you prefer to focus on? Why is it still there, when there are better alternatives?

Many has pointed that out already, but you haven’t responded yet.

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Aibek

Thanks for the comment, I have been following the comments pretty closely. The whole thing is rather disturbing. We are investigating it now and definitely going to address this in the next couple of days.

Aibek

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Alternative

@Aibek

I truly salute your actual interest and your willingness to take action. It’s not about efficiency (although I honestly believe that there are better alternatives out there), but about morality. And when it comes down to ethics, it’s very important be careful. Not for politically correct reasons, but for reliability alone. I meant it when I said that Makeuseof stands ao one of the most trustworthy sources of information when it comes down to this kind of proposals/suggestions/guides. People follow your articles and get influenced. It’s a pity that mistakenly you have shown them a path towards Iobit, when even less than a month ago the accusations started. I wouldn’t trust them at the moment…the evidences are there for anyone to make their own mind.

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Aibek

Hi

We have removed the Security 360 from the list. When it comes to ACS at the moment we intent to keep it.

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Aibek

update: the ACS is likely to be substituted by Glary Utilities or CCleaner. After analyzing the apps, glary utilities in particular seems much more comprehensive and offer many other features not present in other apps.

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Pau OFlaherty

Digsby is notorious for installing malware and other spyware. I would drop that program from this list in favor of Pidgin for all your IM needs and a good twitter client like seesmin.

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Aibek

you can deselect everything during the install process

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Shammie Jayaransie

very useful….. thanks.

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Eric V

instead of ACS get Glary Utilities it has all the features of ACS and more

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Alexander P.

VLC has some serious flaw with subtitle handling and, at least last time I checked, with the matroska container.
Personally I would highly recommend the Combined Community Codec Pack [1], which is based mainly on Media Player Classic home cinema, FFDShow (the VLC codecs are a fork of these) and VSFilter (for subtitle handling). It is quite light on system resources and works like charm whith the default options.
I think the only two drawbacks are:
- it’s substantial lack of portability, and,
- the fact that, being ffdshow based on directx, it is available only for Windows (if you want a valid alternative to VLC unader Linux you can use mplayer instead).

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John Henley

I personally tend to favour SSuite Office’s free office suites. Their software also don’t need to run on Java or .NET, like so many open source office suites, so it makes their software very small and efficient.

http://www.ssuitesoft.com

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Cactus

Great list. I have a program you should consider as a possible replacement to DoPDF. It is called 7-PDF Maker. Here is the link: http://www.7-pdf.de/
Note that the site is German, so use Google Translate or Bing.

Also, as a possible replacement to VLC, you should considr Media Player Classic. If you install some codecs, there is basically nothing that it can’t play. There are instructions on how to do this at this page: http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/installing-media-player-classic-step-step-guide.htm

Keep up the good work!

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Ninja

Well, I have an objection to two of your descriptions.

First, Firefox/Chrome. I use Firefox myself, but security is not the reason at all. If you want security, you would use IE8. Firefox has only one (or many) great advantage – its extensions.

Second, “You no longer need a separate program for ZIP, RAR, ACE, 7-ZIP, TAR files and so on, IZArc can handle ALL of them.”
That is just lame, because almost all archivers support multiple formats.

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Aibek

i never said that Firefox / Chroe are the most secure browsers, it’s a combnation of security, speed and other things that makes them good.

As for the IZArc, tell me other archiver that can handle all fo the following formats:

7-ZIP, A, ACE, ARC, ARJ, B64, BH, BIN, BZ2, BZA, C2D, CDI, CAB, CPIO, DEB, ENC, GCA, GZ, GZA, HA, IMG, ISO, JAR, LHA, LIB, LZH, MBF, MDF, MIM, NRG, PAK, PDI, PK3, RAR, RPM, TAR, TAZ, TBZ, TGZ, TZ, UUE, WAR, XXE, YZ1, Z, ZIP, ZOO

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Mr.Download

Download online video are now not a secret anymore. All my friend knew and always download good movie and songs. All of it are free and easy to use..

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Parvez Saudin

I think for a PDF Printer, a wayyyyy better option is the Cute PDF Printer
You have to download and install the (cutepdf.com/download/CuteWriter.exe) and (cutepdf.com/download/converter.exe) PDF Converter

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Tony

Wow! I just downloaded 6 of the listed programs. I’m so thankful(no pun intended) for having read this article!

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Cody

Great except for the fact that Video Service Thief is useless. I’ve never seen so many error messages in my life.

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nate

these are great, but wat is the picture of the desktop at the top – the one with the city at night. how do i get my desktop to look like that? is it windows 7?

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Tyler

That is Vista with all of his desktop icons pushed up to the very top.

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ed

get a mac

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Shammie Jayaransie

My list is

1. Chrome or Firefox
2. AVG or AVIRA
3. Google Picasa & Paint.NET
4. SnagIt – screent capture (Not FREE)
5. Miranda IM
6. Post-it Notes (3M) (Not FREE)
7. MediaMonkey
8. Auslogics Disk Defrag
9. CCleaner
10. K-Lite Codec Pack or VLC Media Player
11. ImgBurn
12. doPDF

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arzula

Arzular Åželale..

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Dylan

Where is the best free AV Microsoft Security Essentials :o

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Frankyboy

ahm, Opera? Way better than Fx and Chrome imo (and IE of course, but I use ubuntu anyway)

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Jean Chicoine

Opera rocks! Ubuntu rules!

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zm4 sparten

this was cool i for a lot of good stuff for my pc

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lapzeme

I tried Foobar2000 and compared it to Winamp in terms of performance.

You argument that Foobar2000 requires less resources than Winamp is wrong. Actually Foobar2000 requires 2 times more RAM then Winamp – I tried add many files, play, stop, pause etc. The same – 2 times more.

So this is wrong and this was the only reason I installed Foobar2000. I’ll delete it and stay with the old good Winamp.

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PoWl

really, get a mac… you will not need any of this software since it already comes pre-installed, is not relevant or got better alternatives in mac os

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themysticgeek

Here comes the ‘Get a Mac Guy’. Was just wondering how come we didn’t have one yet. Though a valid point is made, all this security bloatware will not be required on a mac. Alas! if only all of us could own a mac.

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Steve Hall

If you aren’t running an antivirus program on your Mac, you are, at best, unwise. Probably ignorant; possibly stupid. Threats to Macs are skyrocketing.

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Buffet

NOD32 is the ONLY completely reliable AV! Your omission of WinPatrol is glaring! As far as the rest, I get by just fine w/o all that bloatware. You also omitted Online Armor firewall and SuperAntispyware among others. There’s also no screen capture utility. Your list needs work!

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grmck

OOo4Kids Open Office for Kids worth a look.
Lighter quicker version of Open Office.
Has everything “average” users will need.
Splash screens are a bit “childish” but hey that’s the point!

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Steve Hall

Sorry, but I really have to question your inclusion of AVG. Since its release, Microsoft Security Essentials has been shown to be more effective. And AVG’s detection capabilities have been trending downwards for a couple years now.

Oh…and I’m not a Microsoft apologist: Both of my computers are Macs.

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Comm1

I love your list and already use most of these. I would add TrueCrypt, Puffer and ACDSEE to your list. Thanks!

-db

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andrew

Nice list. You got any softwares for Free Traffic generation?

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Hilman Sukmarahayu

nice post, dude.it’s help me a lot.thx.. i’m recommend the internet download manager at the list

0 votes

solar panels for sale

Great list. I have to say I haven’t used most of these, but VLC is really great. It plays just about anything!

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Jean Chicoine

Here’s my take on this list. But before I begin I must specify that I’ve migrated from Windows to Ubuntu Linux (version 8.10, Intrepid Ibex) almost a year ago and there’s no way, and I mean NO WAY that I’ll ever get back to Windows.
First I’ll give the app I use on Ubuntu (U), then the one I used when on Windows (W).

1. Web browser. U, W: Opera, the best, the fastest, the safest, the sexiest.
2. Anti-Virus. U: ClamAV, basically to protect my machine, if connected to a network, and my email client against critters coming from Windows machines. W: Avira.
3. Disk Defragmenter. U: no need, the system doesn’t fragment. W: JKDefrag, now called MyDefrag.
4. System Maintenance. U: Ubuntu Tweak. W: CCleaner. Not Glary, it wants to do too much.
5. Spyware Removal. U: no need, although there are tools available if, and it’s a big if, a Linux machine is attacked. W: SpyBot Search & Destroy.
6. Universal Archiver / Extractor. U: Archive Manager. W: IZArc.
7. Photo Management. U: DigiKam. W: IrfanView.
8. PDF Printer. U: Evince. W: Foxit.
9. Post-It Notes. Don’t use that on Ubuntu, didn’t use that on Windows, so I couldn’t say.
10. YouTube Video Downloader. U, W: GVDown.
11. Backup. U: SpiderOak. W: Mozy.
12. Multi-protocol Instant Messenger. Again, couldn’t say, since I’ve never use an IM.
13. Video Player. U: SMPlayer. W: GOM.
14. Music Player. U: Amarok. W: XMPlay.
15. CD / DVD Image Burner. U: Brasero. W: didn’t use any back then, so I couldn’t say.

BONUS (+ 5 programs)
16. Uninstaller. U: Synaptic + Terminal. W: Revo.
17. Office Suite. U, W: OpenOffice.
18. PDF reader. See 8.
19. Spyware protection. See 5.
20. Portable Apps. U: apps ready for your USB, including the OS itself, so you can carry a full machine in your pocket. W: LiberKey.

EXTRA (for Windows users)
21. Gizmo’s Freeware. http://www.techsupportalert.com/

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Aibek

Thanks for great the gralternative list!

We are going to do a roundup for Ubuntu as well, you list will come in very handy.

Aibek

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burak

I prefer firstly, opera
nod32
advanced system care free or pro

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lvleph

This is why I use Linux; I don’t have to worry about have the crap you have on there and everything else (versions of) except the youtube downloader is already installed.

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Misa

AVG is shit….

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K

Funny how most of these programs/features already exist on a Mac in the first place.

One thing I will never understand is why does a system need an anti-virus, seems to me like a half finished product.

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Jean Chicoine

As they already exist on a Linux machine.

And I totally agree with you, that a system that needs an anti-virus (and for that matter a defragmenter) seems a half finished product.

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Taylor

yeah AVG can’t detect anything but spyware for me. Avast catches all of my viruses. Only thing I wonder about is what my programs DON’T catch. anyone have a nice combination AV to go with avast?

and I know. combining anti-viruses can cause problems. w/e, don’t care.

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Aibek

I use Avira plus Microsoft Security Essentials together. Also keep MalwareBytes for spyware scans. Never had any problems.

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Misa

Trust me, just try it and tell me your impresions… ;) The best Anti Virus and Spyware I have ever used is Viper…

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M @

Just for the record, very few of these programs qualify as free software, most of them are just freeware.

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.html

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Aibek

What’s the difference?

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Daniel Diamond

AVG is not a good program. It used to be good in the version 6/7 days but these days it is bloated and pops up ads and just recently when I reinstalled it on Vista it started doing some sort of index on the entire drive and bringing the system to a crawl as well as constantly running the external hard drive. I wouldn’t recommend AVG to anyone. I’m currently testing out Avira but I have no opinion on that one yet.

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Phil

Thanks for the heads up on the IOBit saga – just uninstalled their stuff off my laptop after reading all the links. Shocking. Also just replaced AVG (it does indeed seem to slow down things quite a bit sometimes) with Avira and will see how that goes!

I have Picasa on my PC but for quick viewing/editing I do still come back to IrfanView which to me is incredibly quick and small footprint – and does everything I want in a picture viewer/resizer.

Anyways – great list (and some useful additional comments) and has pointed me in the direction of a few things I hadn’t come across! Thanks! :-)

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rchitra

One item I have not seen (may be it has been talked about earlier and I missed it) is Mojopac. I found it pretty cool software that can convert a USB drive to a computer…

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KDC

Let’s see…. I start with Linux so I don’t need this free software, I already have a free OS.

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Mayur

Really nice list

0 votes

Rick@Rickety

Portable Apps is also useful for installing programs on a computer where you do not have admin rights. For example, at work you have a PC but no rights to install programs. You don’t like Internet Explorer so just download and install Firefox from Portable Apps.

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Daniel

Thank you for this great list. I use TheKMPlayer instead of VLC. It has better key shortcuts.

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Jeff

Thanks for the list. I use many of the applications listed and/or alternatives to them as listed below:

1) Firefox
2) Avast
3) JKDefrag or MyDefrag
4) Glary Utilities, CCleaner, CleanAfterMe, Disk Cleaner,
FCleaner, RegSeeker and RegPair
5) Malwarebytes and Spybot
6) 7Zip
7) Gimp, XnView and PicPick (Would use Picasa if it could be offered in a portable version, preferably PortableApps.com Format)
8) PDFCreator
9) PNotes
10) DownloadHelper (Firefox extention)
11) Parted Magic, Clonezilla and Toucan
12) Pidgin
13) VLC Media Player and SM Media Player
14) XMPLay and Songbird
15) CDBurnerXP, InfraRecorder and ImgBurn

Please note the majority of these applications are available in versions designed to run from a USB. For those interested I recommend picking up portable versions from PortableApps.com as many portable applications offered directly by software developers leaves behind information on the host PC. An example is Glary Utilities.

Hope that helps :)

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Aibek

Hey Jeff

Thanks for the list, some of the items were new to me. For instance, never heard of SM Media Player before, :-)

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Ragingmelon

For those of you that would rather get a program that only has a free version, like me, I’d recommend COMODO over AVG, which comes with both an anti-virus and firewall.

I guess it also scores points to be at the top of the list at http://www.matousec.com/projects/proactive-security-challenge/results.php

Insult me all you want for relying on a benchmarking test score, but in my opinion it can’t all just be invalid information.

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Ragingmelon

I take back what I said… (Apparently, there is a Pro version :/)

Despite that, I find it pretty good.

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Max

How’s the recently released TUNE UP UTILITIES 2010? I’ve read that it has been revamped from its previous version and quite a few new apps were introduced.

Tune Up 2010 & Glary Utilities, which one is better?

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Jon Peltier

AVG has become somewhat piggish in the last version or two. I’m testing Avira and Avast on my daughters’ computers.

If you want to control your PDF output in MS Office with VBA, PDFCreator is the best.

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NotAVG

AVGG!!! really_=? please that antivirus dont pass the major test!!!, Try Avira, Avast or MSE!!!.

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lury

vlc – lol? it’s a joke.

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Lookcrabs

@lury: Why is vlc a joke? It’s portable, you don’t need to install other codecs or anything to play most files, it works for the three major Operating systems(linux, osx, and windows), and it comes with a very nice set of features.

@aibek: I like the list. It’s hard to satisfy everyone’s needs as everyone needs something different. If I were to make a list:

1.) firefox portable with flash, downthemall!, greasemonkey, weboftrust, adblockplus. Opera is nice but firefox is extensible. Opera blows firefox out of the water in terms of speed (not memory).

2.) universal extractor (http://legroom.net/software/uniextract) don’t knock it ’till you try it. It’s portable. It handles everything izark does plus installers in exe or msi format.

3.) System handywork: sysinternals + xp/2003 admin toolkits all from microsoft:(procexplorer, procmon, desktops): ever have that problem where you try to eject a usb drive but it says it’s in use. find the handle with procexplorer. How about the problem where a window pops up but task manager doesn’t have it listed as an active program and only shows you the task list? Procexplorer has the answer by clicking the target and dragging it onto the window. Great.

4.) Office/productivity suite: Gmail, Google docs, google calendar. Why install applications if you don’t have to? This is the top apps list though so if google doesn’t count: openoffice + thunderbird (enigmail, spamato, and lightning extensions)

5.) media player: vlc – I don’t understand how anyone can touch this. It’s portable, it doesn’t need codecs, and it’s loaded with features (including a media server and file conversion)
handbreak is a nice gui for vlc file conversion (flash videos too!)

6.) defrag: defraggler or mydefrag (it’s portable and you can script around it)

7.) virtualbox (Run any os within your os. need to test something for a friend? need to do something secret? need to run an OSX tool while in windows or visa versa?) Best part: turn most back-ups into virtual images that you can take and boot anywhere!

8.)Antivirus – avira, cureit, or eset online scanner. I’m not a fan of real-time anything on my pc but if you’re forgetful or just not familiar enough: avira is the way to go. The “can not update” and once a day pop up issues can be fixed.

9.) Antimalware – O.K. so this is a HUGE category: rootkits, spyware, malware, addware ETC. for such a huge topic one tool doesn’t cut it. Malwarebytes is great but it doesn’t catch everything
what about:
superantispyware free – catches things malwarebytes doesn’t
spybot S&D – old standard
a2 antimalware – bloat but tests very well (top 3 on some sites)
icesword – able to kill things the task manager can’t
combofix – if for nothing else other than it installs the recovery console for you.
10.) graphic editing – ifranview/pixlr for quick things, gimp/inkscape for big things. If you don’t need to install an app why bother?

11.) online storage – skydrive. 25Gb of free storage. Mount’s like a drive in windows explorer. Can’t
beat that.

12.) IM//social – I really like digsby’s polish but what about meebo? It’s online so you don’t have to install anything? If you’re looking for small and fast why not miranda?

13.) images (cd burning etc) – daemon tools lite + imgburn. Mount existing images with daemon tools then create // burn images with imgburn. Can’t beat that.

14.) backup — ntbackup or “backup and restore center”. W7 and vista can backup to a vhd for free! no need to install anything!

Bonus —

ubuntu linux within windows – http://portableubuntu.demonccc.com.ar/en/media
spare browser? How about a spare OS?

(linux over windows anyday)

Just my two cents.
Sorry for grammar and spelling. I’m lazy and illiterate.
Hope this helps.