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Essential PC Software (Updated 14th March 2014)

 
 
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      25th Oct 2006
Below is a list of the software myself and the other users here at PCReview think are the best of the bunch and worthy of a download, including Antivirus, Firewalls, spyware scanners and general applications. Any suggestions or additions are of course most welcome. My thanks to all the members here at PCR for all their contributions so far.

The discussion thread for this is here if you wish to add any comments or suggestions.

Enjoy!


Anti Virus
*Be sure to use only ONE Anti Virus program at any one time*

While MSE/Defender come pre installed with Windows, Microsoft has decided to turn Security Essentials into a "baseline" program and it does not intend to be the best antivirus program in the business. Instead the company is just sharing its virus tracking findings with the security industry so they can develop better antivirus programs. Basically, if you want better virus and malware protection, look elsewhere than the built-in program offered by Microsoft, here are some suggestions...

AntiVir
http://www.avira.com/en/avira-free-antivirus
Avira AntiVir PersonalEdition Classic reliably protects your private computer against dangerous viruses, worms, Trojans and costly dialer's. More than 15 million users worldwide trust in the reliable protection of Avira AntiVir. And this is no coincidence at all: Avira has gained several awards. The product combines first-class detection rates and ease of use with a top performance that protects your computer safely and hardly burdens older PCs.

Avast
http://www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download
Avast! is a full-featured antivirus package designed exclusively for home users and non-commercial use. Both of these conditions should be met! Our company offers the Home Edition free of charge, since, in our opinion, it is possible to avoid global virus spreading by efficient prevention; however, many users are not able to or do not want to pay for antivirus software. This page will show you the most important features of this program.

Bitdefender Free Edition
http://www.bitdefender.co.uk/solutions/free.html
Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition has been engineered to enable you to enjoy your computer to the max, without having to worry about viruses and other e-threats. We call it "artificial intelligence" because it will always find the best way for your system to stay clear of dangers without requiring special configuring. And, more importantly, without slowing down your system. Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition shares some of the revolutionary technologies that allowed our main product line to outpass major competitors such as AVG, Avast or Avira.



Audio Utilities

Audacity
http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Learn more about Audacity here.

dBpweramp
http://www.dbpoweramp.com/dmc.htm
dBpoweramp Music Converter: the corner stone of illustrate's product base with over 20 Million users, stability and compatibility are two of Music Converters defining characteristics. Music Converter appeals to home users, as well as businesses with our flagship Reference version. Used by many top Television and Radio stations world wide as well as most Fortune 100 companies which are multi-media based. Our client list is a who's-who of the business world.

Exact Audio Copy
http://www.exactaudiocopy.org/
Exact Audio Copy is a so called audio grabber for audio CDs using standard CD and DVD-ROM drives, For the most exact copy of audio. Copying can be a lengthy process, but accurate.

MP3 Splt
http://mp3splt.sourceforge.net/mp3splt_page/home.php
Mp3Splt-project is a utility to split mp3 and ogg files selecting a begin and an end time position, without decoding. It's very useful to split large mp3/ogg to make smaller files or to split entire albums to obtain original tracks. If you want to split an album, you can select split points and file names manually or you can get them automatically from CDDB (internet or a local file) or from .cue files.

MP3Tag
http://www.mp3tag.de/en/
Mp3tag is a powerful and yet easy-to-use tool to edit metadata of common audio formats where it supports ID3v1, ID3v2.3, ID3v2.4, iTunes MP4, WMA, Vorbis Comments and APE Tags.
It can rename files based on the tag information, replace characters or words in tags and filenames, import/export tag information, create playlists and more.
Mp3tag supports online database lookups from, e.g., Amazon, discogs, or freedb, allowing you to automatically gather proper tags and cover art for your music library

Wavosaur
http://www.wavosaur.com
Wavosaur is a cool free sound editor, audio editor, wav editor software for editing, processing and recording sounds, wav and mp3 files. Wavosaur has all the features to edit audio (cut, copy, paste, etc.) produce music loops, analyze, record, batch convert.
Wavosaur supports VST plugins, ASIO driver, multichannel wav files, real time effect processing.
The program has no installer and doesn't write in the registry. Use it as a free mp3 editor, for mastering, sound design. The Wavosaur freeware audio editor works on Windows 98, Windows XP and Windows Vista.
Go to the features page for an overview of the software.


Benchmarking

ATTO Hard Drive Benchmarking
http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads...nchmark-v2-46/
Aged but very popular harddisk benchmarking tool. Offers nice features to benchmark RAID setups.

CrystalDiskMark
http://crystalmark.info/software/Cry...k/index-e.html
CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enable you to rapidly measure sequential and random read/write speeds

Futuremark 3DMark Series
http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/
3DMark is the premium benchmark for evaluating next generation PC gaming hardware with a combination of real-time DirectX 3D game tests, CPU tests, feature tests and image quality tools. Over 3 million registered 3DMark users have submitted over 13 million benchmark results. Media surveys indicate that 97% of published display card reviews use 3DMark. Overall, 3DMark is the world’s leading gaming benchmark, with results that guide countless consumers in their purchasing decisions.

HD Tune
http://www.hdtune.com/
HD Tune is a hard disk utility which benchmarks your Hard Disk and measures the raw performance, Transfer Rate, Access Time, CPU Usage, Burst Rate and much more.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark
http://unigine.com/products/heaven/
Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine™ engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies.

Unigine Valley Benchmark
http://unigine.com/products/valley/
Valley Benchmark is a new GPU stress-testing tool from the developers of the very popular and highly acclaimed Heaven Benchmark. The forest-covered valley surrounded by vast mountains amazes with its scale from a bird’s-eye view and is extremely detailed down to every leaf and flower petal. This non-synthetic benchmark powered by the state-of-the art UNIGINE Engine showcases a comprehensive set of cutting-edge graphics technologies with a dynamic environment and fully interactive modes available to the end user.


CD/DVD Burning

Ashampoo Burning Studio 6 FREE
http://www.ashampoo.com/uk/gbp/pin/0...rning-Studio-6
The Ashampoo Burning Studio 6 FREE keeps all the advantages of its predecessor and adds multi-disc file backup, an integrated audio CD ripper and further improved support for the exciting new Blu-ray format with capacities of up to 25 gigabytes per layer.

ImgBurn
http://www.imgburn.com/
ImgBurn is a lightweight CD / DVD / HD DVD / Blu-ray burning application that everyone should have in their toolkit! ImgBurn supports a wide range of image file formats - including BIN, CUE, DI, DVD, GI, IMG, ISO, MDS, NRG and PDI. It can burn Audio CD's from any file type supported via DirectShow / ACM - including AAC, APE, FLAC, M4A, MP3, MP4, MPC, OGG, PCM, WAV, WMA and WV.


Desktop Enhancments

Netspeed Monitor
http://www.floriangilles.com/software/netspeedmonitor
NetSpeedMonitor is a lightweight Network Monitoring Toolbar for your Windows Taskbar designed to be used on computers that run Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista or Windows 7. With NetSpeedMonitor you can monitor the current speed (up- and downstream) of your Network Interfaces and the amount of data transferred. In addition to the Connection Table with all TCP/UDP endpoints and the Toolbar Tooltip with a quick and short traffic overview, you can also see detailed daily and monthly Traffic Statistics. NetSpeedMonitor toolbar requires no additional drivers like other Network Monitoring tools do!

ObjectDock
http://www.stardock.com/products/objectdock/
ObjectDock is a program that enables users to organize their shortcuts, programs and running tasks into an attractive and fun animated Dock. By allowing users to have more control over how they organize their desktop, users can take control of their desktop icons and shortcuts to have them be available when where and how they need them. This, all with the unique style and top-rate performance that ObjectDock is known to deliver!

Rainmeter
http://code.google.com/p/rainmeter/
Rainmeter is a customizable resource meter that can display various performance data in different formats. Rainmeter can measure CPU load, Allocated Memory, Network Traffic, Performance data, Uptime, Free disk space and plenty of other stuff. The data can be displayed e.g. in a histogram, a bar, bitmap frames or just plain numbers. Rainmeter also includes a plugin interface which means that the feature set can be extented with 3rd party plugins.

Samurize
http://www.samurize.com/modules/news/
Samurize is an advanced system monitoring and desktop enhancement engine for Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista. IT professionals, overclockers, gamers and desktop modders alike use Samurize for system information, weather reports, news headlines and much much more. And best of all, Samurize is 100% free!

Stardock Fences
http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/downloads.asp
Fences is a program that helps you organize your desktop and can hide your icons when they're not in use. A "Fence", a term coined by this program, is an icon group on your desktop. Fences is an add-on to your desktop, not a replacement.

Ultramon
http://www.realtimesoft.com/ultramon/
UltraMon is a utility for multi-monitor systems, designed to increase productivity and unlock the full potential of multiple monitors.


Download Managers

DownThemAll
http://www.downthemall.net/
DownThemAll (or just dTa) is a powerful yet easy-to-use Mozilla Firefox extension that adds new advanced download capabilities to your browser. DownThemAll lets you download all the links or images contained in a webpage and much more: you can refine your downloads by fully customizable criteria to get only what you really want.

Free Download Manager
http://www.freedownloadmanager.org/
Free Download Manager (FDM) is a full-featured download accelerator and manager. It is absolutely free! Using this software product you can easily download a list of files and whole web sites from any remote server via HTTP, HTTPS and FTP. With FDM the downloading process will be as easy as never before!


Email

Thunderbird
http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/thunderbird/
Thunderbird is a free open source POP and IMAP email client developed by Mozilla, the same folks who brought you Firefox. Feature-wise it sits somewhere between Outlook Express and Outlook which means that it offers an upgrade to Express users and a downgrade to those who use the more advanced PIM features of Outlook.Windows XP does have Outlook Express built in but thunderbird is again the better option.


Firewalls
*Only use ONE Firewall program at any one time.

*I would recommend you use the built in Windows firewall along with something like Microsoft Security Essentials / Windows Defender, or better still Bitdefender, however if you would rather run a standalone firewall, then one of the below programs is a good option.*



Kerio
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/Kerio.cfm
No other single product class seems to cause as much angst to average users in their installation and day-to-day use as Firewalls. For such users Kerio Personal Firewall is my top recommendation, as it seems to cause the fewest problems yet manages excellent protection as well. Note that the free and paid versions of Sunbelt Kerio are the same. If you don't buy the product some advanced features are automatically turned off after 30 days.

ZoneAlarm Free Firewall
http://www.zonealarm.co.uk/security/...e-firewall.htm
Millions of people around the world use ZoneAlarm Free Firewall. Our free software blocks hackers and prevents viruses & spyware from stealing your personal data and sending it out to the Internet. Also, works great with any antivirus software.
 
 
 
 
 
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      25th Oct 2006
FTP Clients

CoreFTP
http://www.coreftp.com/
This free, secure FTP client gives you a fast, easy, reliable way to update and maintain your website via FTP. It also provides a secure method (via SSL, TLS, or SFTP) to upload or download files to and from FTP servers. Check out the list of features and you'll find almost every feature you need, all in a free ftp program.

Filezilla
http://filezilla-project.org/
FileZilla Client is a fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP client with lots of useful features and an intuitive graphical user interface.

FireFTP (Firefox Addon)
http://fireftp.mozdev.org/
FireFTP is a free, secure, cross-platform FTP client for Mozilla Firefox which provides easy and intuitive access to FTP servers.


Google Tools

Google Earth
http://earth.google.com/
Want to know more about a specific location? Dive right in -- Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to put the world's geographic information at your fingertips.

Google Picasa
See Photo Editors and Viewers


Media Codecs/Codec Packs

CCCP Codec Pack
http://www.cccp-project.net/
The Combined Community Codec Pack is a simple playback pack for Windows with the goal of supporting the majority of video formats in use today.

FFDShow
http://www.free-codecs.com/download/FFDShow.htm
FFDShow is a DirectShow decoding filter for decompressing DivX, XviD, WMV, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 movies. It uses libavcodec from ffmpeg project for video decompression, postprocessing code from mplayer to enhance visual quality of low bitrate movies, and is based on original DirectShow filter from XviD, which is GPL'ed educational implementation of MPEG4 encoder.

K-Lite Codec Pack
http://www.free-codecs.com/download/...Codec_Pack.htm
K-Lite Codec Pack is a collection of codecs and related tools. Codecs are required to encode and/or decode (play) audio and video. The K-Lite Codec Pack is designed as a user-friendly solution for playing all your movie files. With the K-Lite Codec Pack you should be able to play 99% of all the movies that you download from the internet.

Quicktime Alternative
http://www.free-codecs.com/download/...lternative.htm
QuickTime Alternative will allow you to play QuickTime files (.mov, .qt, .3gp and other extensions) without having to install the official QuickTime Player. It also supports QuickTime content that is embedded in webpages.

Real Alternative
http://www.free-codecs.com/download/...lternative.htm
Real Alternative will allow you to play RealMedia files without having to install RealPlayer/RealOne Player.


Media Players (Audio and Video)

iTunes
http://www.apple.com/itunes/
iTunes is a free application for Mac and PC. It plays all your digital music and video. It syncs content to your iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone 3G, 3GS or 4, and Apple TV. And you can add to your collection anytime, 24/7.

Foobar2000
http://www.foobar2000.org/
foobar2000 is an advanced freeware audio player for the Windows platform. Some of the basic features include full unicode support, ReplayGain support and native support for several popular audio formats.

KMPlayer
http://www.kmplayer.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=25
The KMPlayer is a versatile media player which can cover various types of container format such as VCD, DVD, AVI, MKV, Ogg Theora, OGM, 3GP, MPEG-1/2/4, WMV, RealMedia, and QuickTime among others. It handles a wide range of subtitles and allows you to capture audio, video, and screenshots in many ways.

Media Monkey
http://www.mediamonkey.com/
Manage a music library from 100 to 50,000+ audio files and playlists*; whether Rock, Classical, Audiobooks, or Podcasts; whether they’re located on your hard drive, CDs, or a network. Organize, browse, or search music by Genre, Artist, Year, Rating, etc., and never waste your time trying to find mp3s you know you have. MediaMonkey is the music organizer for the serious collector.

Media Player Classic - Home Cinema
http://mpc-hc.org/
Media Player Classic Home Cinema is a free audio and video player for Windows. This project is based on the original "Media Player Classic" and was created after Gabest, the original author, stopped working on it. Many new player features have been integrated in this player.

MusicBee
http://getmusicbee.com/
If you are looking for an application geared toward managing extensive music collections, easy to use and with a comprehensive feature set - MusicBee is that application. MusicBee makes it easy to organize, find and play music files on your computer, on portable devices and on the web.

VLC Player
http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.

Windows Media Player
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/w...s-media-player
Designed by media lovers, for media lovers. Windows Media Player plays more music and video than ever, including Flip Video and unprotected songs from your iTunes library! Organize your digital media collection, sync digital media files to a portable device, shop online for digital media content, and more—with Windows Media Player

Winamp
http://www.winamp.com/
Winamp is a multimedia player made by Nullsoft and eventually acquired by America Online. It is skinnable, multi-format freeware / shareware. Winamp was first released by Justin Frankel in 1997. It also now plays streamed video content, both live and recorded, authored worldwide.


Media Streamers

Shoutcast
http://www.shoutcast.com/
SHOUTcast Radio offers thousands of free Internet radio stations from DJs and broadcasters around the world. This is also a feature Build in to Winamp.

Spotify
http://www.spotify.com/en/products/free/
Financed by advertising, the free version of Spotify is the place where most people start. Simple to download and install, in no time at all you’ll enjoy having all the music in the world at your fingertips, instant access to whatever song you want with no restrictions, and the ability to create and share playlists with friends.


Network Tools

Namebench
http://code.google.com/p/namebench/
Are you a power-user with 5 minutes to spare? Do you want a faster internet experience?
Try out namebench. It hunts down the fastest DNS servers available for your computer to use. namebench runs a fair and thorough benchmark using your web browser history, tcpdump output, or standardized datasets in order to provide an individualized recommendation. namebench is completely free and does not modify your system in any way. This project began as a 20% project at Google. Namebench runs on Mac OS X, Windows, and UNIX, and is available with a graphical user interface as well as a command-line interface.

TeamViewer
http://www.teamviewer.com/en/index.aspx
TeamViewer - the All-In-One Software for Remote Support and Online Meetings.
Remote control any computer or Mac over the internet within seconds or use TeamViewer for online meetings. Find out why more than 100 million users trust TeamViewer!


Office and Text Editors

Notepad++
http://notepad-plus-plus.org/
Notepad++ is a free (as in "free speech" and also as in "free beer") source code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages. Running in the MS Windows environment, its use is governed by GPL License. Based on the powerful editing component Scintilla, Notepad++ is written in C++ and uses pure Win32 API and STL which ensures a higher execution speed and smaller program size. By optimizing as many routines as possible without losing user friendliness, Notepad++ is trying to reduce the world carbon dioxide emissions. When using less CPU power, the PC can throttle down and reduce power consumption, resulting in a greener environment.

Notepad2
http://www.flos-freeware.ch/notepad2.html
Notepad2, a fast and light-weight Notepad-like text editor with syntax highlighting. This program can be run out of the box without installation, and does not touch your system's registry.

Open Office
http://www.openoffice.org/
OpenOffice.org the product is a multi-platform office productivity suite. It includes the key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing program, with a user interface and feature set similar to other office suites. Sophisticated and flexible, OpenOffice.org also works transparently with a variety of file formats, including those of Microsoft Office, and the vendor-neutral OpenDocument standard from OASIS.

Libre Office
http://www.libreoffice.org/default/
Made by a breakaway faction from Open Office who were dissatisfied with the way their former colleagues were heading commercially, Libre Office is a full free Office Suite.
 
 
 
 
 
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      10th Oct 2009
Overclocking Tools
***Disclaimer: Keep in mind that overclocking may damage your system. Do it at your own risk and only if you're confident and know what you're doing!! Neither PCReview or I, can or will, accept any responsibility for any damage you may do to your system by using the below tools***

CPU

Intel Burn Test
http://www.techpowerup.com/94600/Int..._Released.html
IntelBurnTest is a CPU stress benchmark for testing stability of your x86/x64 processor. The new benchmark is said to be extremely processor intensive, so much in fact that it can load your CPU 22'C more than the well known Prime95 benchmark? Keep in mind to use this program at your own risk.

OCCT
http://www.ocbase.com/
OCCT Perestroïka is a stability checking tool, free for personal use.
It comes with 4 built-in test aimed at testing CPUs, GPUs and Power supplies. OCCT also monitors in temperatures, voltages and fan speed, as well as system constants such as CPU Usage, Memory Usage and FPS (if testing in 3d).
It provides the most accurate error-detection algorithm for CPU and GPUs. Every 15 seconds, somebody in the world launches OCCT !

Orthos
http://www.sp2004.fre3.com/download.htm
SP2004 with added dual core functionality in one instance. Best for Dual Core systems. A 12+ hour blend test is a good indication of a stable system.

Prime95
http://www.mersenne.org/freesoft
For overclockers, Prime95 has a feature called "Torture Test" that allows maximum stress testing on the CPU and RAM. There are several options allowing the stress test to focus on the memory, processor, or a balance of both. Usually Prime95 will detect an error within a matter of minutes if an overclock is not stable, however many people like to let the system "burn-in" overnight to ensure long-term stability. The benefit of this version is that it is multi-threaded and will automatically manage worker threads to fully stress all cores of your CPU.
Click here for an alternate download


Graphics Cards

ATITool
http://www.techpowerup.com/atitool/
ATITool is an overclocking utility designed for ATI or Nvidia cards. Design target is to write a light-weight application for the enthusiast - so no questionable registry tweaks.
ATITool will only work on Windows 2000/XP/2003 (64 bit versions are supported)


Please note: Both EVGA Precision X and MSI Afterburner are essentially the same program with a different UI (both are based on the Riva Tuner engine). One wont give you a better overclock than the other, use which ever you prefer, Which you choose is usually based on the UI itself.

EVGA Precision X
http://www.evga.com/precision/
EVGA, once again, sets itself apart from the rest with the EVGA Exclusive Precision Overclocking Utility. This program allows you to fine tune your EVGA graphics card for the maximum performance possible, with Core/Shader/Memory clock tuning, real time monitoring support including in-game, Logitech Keyboard LCD Display support, and compatibility with almost all EVGA graphics cards.

MSI Afterburner
http://event.msi.com/vga/afterburner/overview.htm
Download MSI AfterBurner from MSI. This is an incredible handy overclock utility for MSI graphics cards and almost all others.
Afterburner is powered by the Rivatuner engine, but this software comes with a few extras. AfterBurner will support both ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards, Voltage regulation on the GPU, overclocking on core, shader and memory domains, GPU load levels (ATI), fan speed adjustment, device information and a really wicked graphical (configurable) monitor.
I highly recommend download from the Guru3D forums to ensure you get the latest version, Please CLICK HERE to go to the Guru 3D site.

Nvidia Inspector
http://blog.orbmu2k.de/tools/nvidia-inspector-tool
NVIDIA Inspector by Orbmu2k is a tool for reading all the information of the video card from the NVIDIA drivers and also overclocking your NV graphics card.
You can also create, edit and save custom profiles for games.

RivaTuner
http://www.guru3d.com/index.php?page=rivatuner
RivaTuner is a complete powerful tweaking environment, providing you everything you may need to tune NVIDIA GPU based display adapters. The widest driver-level Direct3D/OpenGL and system tuning options, flexible profiling system allowing to make custom settings on per-application basis, both driver-level and low-level hardware access modes, unique diagnostic and realtime hardware monitoring features and exclusive power user oriented tools like built-in registry editor and patch script engine make RivaTuner's feature set absolutely unmatched.


PDF Readers

Adobe PDF Reader
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html
Arguably the most popular pdf reader. But not always the best option.
Adobe Reader software is the global standard for electronic document sharing. It is the only PDF file viewer that can open and interact with all PDF documents. Use Adobe Reader to view, search, digitally sign, verify, print, and collaborate on Adobe PDF files.

Foxit Reader
http://foxitsoftware.com/Secure_PDF_Reader/
Whether you're a consumer, business, government agency, or educational organization, you need to read, create, sign, and annotate (comment on) PDF documents and fill out PDF forms. Foxit Reader is a small, lightning fast, and feature rich PDF viewer which allows you to open, view, sign, and print any PDF file. Foxit Reader is the only high volume PDF reader providing a complete PDF creation solution, providing the power of PDF creation to every desktop. Foxit Reader comes equipped with comprehensive protection against security vulnerabilities, keeping your system and company safe.

Sumatra PDF
http://blog.kowalczyk.info/software/...df-reader.html
Sumatra PDF is a free PDF, eBook (ePub, Mobi), XPS, DjVu, CHM, Comic Book (CBZ and CBR) reader for Windows. Sumatra PDF is powerful, small, portable and starts up very fast. Simplicity of the user interface has a high priority.

Nitro Reader
http://www.nitropdf.com/free/#
The only free PDF reader and creator
Create PDF files, collaborate and review, fill and save forms, add text to pages, QuickSign TM documents, and more...


Photo Editors and Viewers

Faststone Image Viewer
http://www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm
FastStone Image Viewer is a fast, stable, user-friendly image browser, converter and editor. It has a nice array of features that include image viewing, management, comparison, red-eye removal, emailing, resizing, cropping and colour adjustments. Its innovative but intuitive full-screen mode provides quick access to EXIF information, thumbnail browser and major functionalities via hidden toolbars that pop up when your mouse touches the four edges of the screen.

Irfanview
http://www.irfanview.com/
First there's the classic IrfanView, It’s a first class product. It's an amazingly capable product
Watch for toolbars/browsers and other unwanted software on install.

The Gimp
http://www.gimp.org/windows/
GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

Paint.net
http://www.getpaint.net/index.html
Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help, tutorials, and plugins.

Picasa
http://picasa.google.com/
Google’s free offering, a very good product. When you first run Picasa it offers to scan your whole hard drive (or designated locations) for photos and videos. Scanning is surprisingly quick and when finished you’ll have all your shots neatly organized into folders on a time line basis. Now you can view you shots one at a time, in slideshow or traversing the time line. The editing features are limited compared to professional image editors yet they provide you with every function amateur photographers need including one click red eye reduction. Similarly adding labels to photos is a cinch while a simple but effective star rating system allows you to flag favourite snaps.


Rootkit Scanner/Removers

Rootkits are a special kind of software tool used to hide trojans, viruses and other malware from your anti-virus scanner and other security products. Unfortunately, they are extremely effective which means that some of you reading this will be infected even though you believe your PC to be totally clean. Thankfully there is a new class of security product now available called rootkit detectors that use specialized techniques to detect these dangerous intruders.


Sophos Anti-Rootkit
http://www.sophos.com/en-us/products...i-rootkit.aspx
Sophos Anti-Rootkit scans, detects and removes any rootkit that is hidden on your computer using advanced rootkit detection technology. Rootkits can lie hidden on computers and remain undetected by antivirus software. Although new rootkits can be prevented from infecting the system, if you had any rootkits before you installed your antivirus, they may never be revealed.

RootkitRevealer
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/s...rnals/bb897445
If you are an experienced user you should check out SysInternals RootkitRevealer. It uses a totally different technique to BlackLight so by using both products together you'll be getting excellent overall detection. RootkitRevealer is however, harder to use than BlackLight and is a bit prone to false positives so take care before deleting detected items. If in doubt, ask us.
 
 
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      10th Oct 2009
Spyware Scanners, Removers and Blockers

**While there are other programs out there such as Ad-Aware, Bazooka and many others, the following are regarded as the best of the bunch.**

A-Squared Free
http://www.emsisoft.com/en/software/free/
Security must not be a privilege. Under this motto, Emsi Software provides the Malware scanner a-squared Free completely free of charge for private use. But it is not a very limited version, it is a full tool to clean your computer from Malware. Not only Spywares, as detected by classic Anti-Spyware programs, but also especially Trojans, Backdoors, Worms, Dialers, Keyloggers and a lot of other destructive pests, which makes it dangerous to surf the web.

ESET Online Scanner
http://www.eset.com/us/online-scanner/
An online/standalone scanner that you can run on demand. Optimized for Internet Explorer. Chrome and Firefox users will need to download and run a small utility file before starting scan.

Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware
http://www.malwarebytes.org/
Have you ever considered what makes an anti-malware application effective? We at Malwarebytes have created an easy-to-use, simple, and effective anti-malware application. Whether you know it or not your computer is always at risk of becoming infected with viruses, worms, trojans, rootkits, dialers, spyware, and malware that are constantly evolving and becoming harder to detect and remove. Only the most sophisticated anti-malware techniques can detect and remove these malicious programs from your computer.

Spybot Search and Destroy
http://www.safer-networking.org/dl/
Spybot – Search & Destroy is a set of tools for finding and removing malicious software. The ‘immunization’ feature preemptively protects the browser against threats. System scans and file scans detect spyware and other malicious software and eradicates it. Spyware is a kind of threat not always detected by anti-virus applications. Spyware silently tracks your Internet activity to create a profile about you. This information can then be used for example by marketing and advertising companies.
Spybot – Search & Destroy is designed for use by either novice or experienced users. Novices can choose to view additional information on the available features while experienced users have additional tools and settings. It is fully functional and free for personal use!

Spysweeper
http://www.webroot.com/uk/products/spysweeper/
This is a scanner, blocker and removal tool all in one however its not free. But it does get some of the highest ratings from well-known magazines and websites. Some regard it as the best Anti Spyware program on the market.
Spysweeper can be bought and downloaded from the Webroot site or a boxed version from somewhere like www.Amazon.co.uk

SpywareBlaster
http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html
SpywareBlaster doesn't scan and clean for spyware - it prevents it from ever being installed. It changes some settings in your computer to help prevent an initial infection. It provides protection against thousands of malevolent products that use ActiveX based exploits, block hostile sites and discards unwanted cookies as well by setting 'kill bits'.

SuperAntiSpyware
http://www.superantispyware.com/index.html
SUPERAntiSpyware is the most thorough scanner on the market. Our Multi-Dimensional Scanning and Process Interrogation Technology will detect spyware that other products miss! SUPERAntiSpyware will remove ALL the Spyware, NOT just the easy ones! Easily remove over 100,000 pests such as SmitFraud, Vundo, WinFixer, SpyAxe, SpyFalcon, WinAntiVirus, AntiVermins and thousands more! Supports Windows Vista.


System Information Tools

Belarc Advisor
http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html"
The Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, CIS (Center for Internet Security) benchmarks, and displays the results in your Web browser. All of your PC profile information is kept private on your PC and is not sent to any web server.

Blue Screen View
http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/blue_screen_view.html
BlueScreenView scans all your minidump files created during 'blue screen of death' crashes, and displays the information about all crashes in one table. For each crash, BlueScreenView displays the minidump filename, the date/time of the crash, the basic crash information displayed in the blue screen (Bug Check Code and 4 parameters), and the details of the driver or module that possibly caused the crash (filename, product name, file description, and file version).

Core Temp
http://www.alcpu.com/CoreTemp/
Core Temp is a compact, no fuss, small footprint program to monitor CPU temperature. The uniqueness of it is that it shows the temperature of each individual core in a each processor in your system! You can see in real time how the CPU temperature varies when you load your CPU.
Please note, at time of writing the latest version (RC6) can cause instability with Windows 8.1. Check the official forums for the latest info. Real Temp 3.70 does ot have this issue.

CPU-Z
http://www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php
CPU-Z is a freeware that gathers information on some of the main devices of your system including CPU, RAM and Motherboard.

GPU-Z
http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/SysInfo/GPU-Z
GPU-Z is a lightweight utility designed to give you all information about your video card and GPU.

HWInfo
http://www.hwinfo.com/
HWiNFO™ and HWiNFO32™ are professional hardware information and diagnostic tools supporting latest components, industry technologies and standards. Both tools are designed to collect and present the maximum amount of information possible about computer's hardware which makes them suitable for users searching for driver updates, computer manufacturers, system integrators and technical experts as well. Retrieved information is presented in a logical and easily understandable form and can be exported into various types of reports.

HWMonitor
http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html
HWMonitor is a hardware monitoring program that reads PC systems main health sensors : voltages, temperatures, fans speed.
The program handles the most common sensor chips, like ITE® IT87 series, most Winbond® ICs, and others. In addition, it can read modern CPUs on-die core thermal sensors, as well has hard drives temperature via S.M.A.R.T, and video card GPU temperature

Intel Thermal Analysis Tool
http://www.techpowerup.com/downloads/379/
Intels TAT is a temperature monitoring tool for Intel CPU's. It can also simulate a work load so you can accurately gauge load temperatures.

Process Explorer
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/s...rnals/bb896653
The one, the only. Better than task manager by miles.
Ever wondered which program has a particular file or directory open? Now you can find out. Process Explorer shows you information about which handles and DLLs processes are opened or loaded. The window shows a list of the currently active processes, including the names of their owning accounts.

Real Temp
http://www.techpowerup.com/realtemp
Real Temp is a temperature monitoring program designed for all Intel single Core, Dual Core, Quad Core and Core i7 processors. Each core on these processors has a digital thermal sensor (DTS) that reports temperature data relative to TJMax which is the safe maximum operating core temperature for the CPU. As your CPU heats up, your Distance to TJMax will decrease. If it reaches zero, your processor will start to thermal throttle or slow down so maximizing your distance away from TJMax will help your computer run at full speed and more reliably too.

Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI)
http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/
The Secunia PSI is a free security tool designed to detect vulnerable and out-dated programs and plug-ins which expose your PC to attacks. Attacks exploiting vulnerable programs and plug-ins are rarely blocked by traditional anti-virus and are therefore increasingly "popular" among criminals.
The only solution to block these kind of attacks is to apply security updates, commonly referred to as patches. Patches are offered free-of-charge by most software vendors, however, finding all these patches is a tedious and time consuming task. Secunia PSI automates this and alerts you when your programs and plug-ins require updating to stay secure.

Sisoftware Sandra Lite
http://www.sisoftware.co.uk/index.html
System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software.It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what's really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCIe, ODBC Connections, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.

Speccy
http://www.piriform.com/speccy
Speccy is an advanced System Information tool for your PC. We're always improving it, but have just published a Final Release version for you to download

Speedfan
http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php
SpeedFan is a freeware program that monitors voltages, fan speeds and temperatures in computers with hardware monitor chips. SpeedFan can even access S.M.A.R.T. info for Hard Disks that support this feature and show hard disk temperatures and much more.

WinDirStat
http://windirstat.info/index.html
WinDirStat is a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for Microsoft Windows.
It shows disk, file and directory sizes in a treelist as well as graphically in a treemap, much like KDirStat or SequoiaView
 
 
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      10th Oct 2009
System Cleanup, Testing and Tweaking Tools

Bart's PE bootable live windows CD/DVD
http://www.nu2.nu/pebuilder/
Bart's PE Builder helps you build a "BartPE" (Bart Preinstalled Environment) bootable Windows CD-Rom or DVD from the original Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 installation/setup CD, very suitable for PC maintenance tasks.
It will give you a complete Win32 environment with network support, a graphical user interface (800x600) and FAT/NTFS/CDFS filesystem support. Very handy for burn-in testing systems with no OS, rescuing files to a network share, virus scan and so on.
This will replace any Dos bootdisk in no time!

Bootdisks
http://www.bootdisk.com/
Download bootdisks for just about everything, Including the one you need to have to flash a Bios.

Ccleaner
http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner
CCleaner is a freeware system optimization and privacy tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware!

Defraggler
http://www.piriform.com/defraggler
Use Defraggler to defrag your entire hard drive, or individual files - unique in the industry. This compact and portable Windows application supports NTFS and FAT32 file systems.

Display Driver Uninstaller
http://www.wagnardmobile.com/DDU/
Display Driver Uninstaller is a driver removal utility that can help you completely uninstall AMD/NVIDIA graphics card drivers and packages from your system, without leaving leftovers behind (including registry keys, folders and files, driver store).
The current effect after you use this driver removal tool will be similar as if its the first time you install a new driver just like a fresh, clean install of Windows. As with any tool of this kind, we recommend creating a new system restore point before using it, so that you can revert your system at any time if you run into problems.

Memtest
http://www.memtest.org/
Based on the well-known original memtest86 written by Chris Brady, memtest86+ is a port by some members of the x86-secret team. Our goal is to provide an up-to-date and completly reliable version of this software tool aimed at memory failures detection.Runs from floppy, cd or usb drive.

Recuva
http://www.piriform.com/recuva
Accidentally deleted an important file? Lost something important when your computer crashed? No problem! Recuva recovers files deleted from your Windows computer, Recycle Bin, digital camera card, or MP3 player. And it's free!

Ultimate Boot CD
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/
Ultimate Boot CD consolidates as many diagnostic tools as possible into one bootable CD and is completely free for the download.

USBDeview
http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/usb_devices_view.html
USBDeview is a small utility that lists all USB devices that currently connected to your computer, as well as all USB devices that you previously used.
For each USB device, exteneded information is displayed: Device name/description, device type, serial number (for mass storage devices), the date/time that device was added, VendorID, ProductID, and more. USBDeview also allows you to uninstall USB devices that you previously used, disconnect USB devices that are currently connected to your computer, as well as to disable and enable USB devices.
You can also use USBDeview on a remote computer, as long as you login to that computer with admin user.


Video Drivers

Nvidia Drivers
http://www.nvidia.com/content/drivers/drivers.asp
For latest Nvidia graphics drivers straight from the Nvidia website.

AMD Drivers
http://sites.amd.com/us/game/downloa...downloads.aspx
For latest ATI graphics drivers (Catalyst) straight from the AMD/ATI website.


Video/DVD Editing, Encoding and Ripping

Handbrake
http://handbrake.fr/
HandBrake is an open-source, GPL-licensed, multiplatform, multithreaded video transcoder.

MakeMKV
http://www.makemkv.com/
MakeMKV is your one-click solution to convert video that you own into free and patents-unencumbered format that can be played everywhere. MakeMKV is a format converter, otherwise called "transcoder". It converts the video clips from proprietary (and usually encrypted) disc into a set of MKV files, preserving most information but not changing it in any way. The MKV format can store multiple video/audio tracks with all meta-information and preserve chapters. There are many players that can play MKV files nearly on all platforms, and there are tools to convert MKV files to many formats, including DVD and Blu-ray discs.


Web Browsers

Google Chrome
https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/
Google Chrome is a web browser that runs web pages and applications with lightning speed.

Internet Explorer
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/i...er/download-ie
Safer: Built-in security features like SmartScreen Filter let you be more aware of online threats, and help protect your PC and your privacy.
Easier: The redesigned New Tab page and improved favorites take you to the sites you love in fewer clicks.
Reliable: Internet Explorer 8 is designed to be more reliable. Features like Crash Recovery help ensure that your browsing remains uninterrupted, even when a website isn't working correctly.

Mozilla Firefox
http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/fx/#desktop
Internet Explorer (IE) is a competent enough browser but it has become such a target for malicious exploits that it is now a major security risk. There are several excellent alternatives with Mozilla Firefox a solid first choice. It's safer than IE, so safe in fact that many users have reported no spyware infections since they started using the product. It's also browses a tad faster than IE, is very stable and is more standards compliant. The program loads a little slower than IE but once running, it positively zips along. With tabbed browsing and over 600 free extensions that allow you to customize your experience, it provides most users with a major surfing upgrade.

Opera
http://www.opera.com/
Another Alternative to Internet Explorer is Opera. It's a fast, fun and easy way to browse the Web. Opera 9 comes loaded with the tools to keep you productive and safe. Try it today, it's absolutely free!

Waterfox (64 bit Firefox)
http://waterfoxproject.org/
Waterfox is a high performance browser based on the Mozilla Firefox source code. Made specifically for 64-Bit systems, Waterfox has one thing in mind: speed.


Zip Utilities

7-Zip
http://www.7-zip.org/
7-Zip is open source software. Most of the source code is under the GNU LGPL license. The unRAR code is under a mixed license: GNU LGPL + unRAR restrictions. Check license information here: 7-Zip license.
You can use 7-Zip on any computer, including a computer in a commercial organization. You don't need to register or pay for 7-Zip. But you can make a donation to support further development of 7-Zip.

TUGZip
http://www.tugzip.com/
TUGZip is a powerful award-winning freeware archiving utility for Windows that provides support for a wide range of compressed, encoded and disc-image files, as well as very powerful features; all through an easy to use application interface and Windows Explorer integration.
Supports ZIP, 7-ZIP, A, ACE, ARC, ARJ, BH, BZ2, CAB, CPIO, DEB, GCA, GZ, IMP, JAR, LHA (LZH), LIB, RAR, RPM, SQX, TAR, TGZ, TBZ, TAZ, YZ1 and ZOO archives.Supports BIN, C2D, IMG, ISO and NRG disc-images.

WinRar
http://www.rarlab.com/
WinRAR is a powerful archive manager. It can backup your data and reduce the size of email attachments, decompress RAR, ZIP and other files downloaded from Internet and create new archives in RAR and ZIP file format. You can try WinRAR before buy, its trial version is available in downloads.

 


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