Posted by: kurtsh | May 21, 2010

INFO: My favorite free Windows utilities as of 4/30/2010

image Here’s my current list of must haves.

  • Windows Live Writer
    Many people use web based interfaces for blogging, but there’s nothing out there that demonstrates how valuable an installable software client can be better than Windows Live Writer.  A small but extremely useful, single purpose ‘fat client’ tool for blogging, Windows Live Writer is easily the most often used blogging tool amongst bloggers that works for not just Windows Live Spaces and Blogger blogs but also Sharepoint, WordPress, and other 3rd party blog systems.   And it makes offline blogging a breeze.
  • Windows Live Mesh
    An amazing technology, Live Mesh provides you with the ability to synchronize file folders across the Internet and simultaneously store the same content in the cloud, providing you with access to the same data on each synched computer and also while on the road through the cloud.  Two additional capabilities make Live Mesh special:  You are able to sync folders to Windows Mobile devices to provide over-the-air replication.  You are also able to remotely control desktops participating in Live Mesh using a remote control agent designed to provide simple desktop controls.
  • CCleaner (v2.31)
    CCleaner is our system optimization, privacy and cleaning 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. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! 
  • Cropper (v1.93)
    Cropper is a very flexible (and free!) screen capture application that provides area capture to BMP or copies to the clipboard for easy usage in documents.  Requires .NET Framework.
  • SyncToy (v2.0)
    SyncToy is an easy to use, highly customizable program that helps users to do the heavy lifting involved with the copying, moving, and synchronization of different directories. Most common operations can be performed with just a few clicks of the mouse, and additional customization is available without additional complexity. SyncToy can manage multiple sets of folders at the same time; it can combine files from two folders in one case, and mimic renames and deletes in another case. Unlike other applications, SyncToy actually keeps track of renames to files and will make sure those changes get carried over to the synchronized folder.
  • SugarSync
    Not so much a free utility but a free service (with the opportunity to upgrade).  SugarSync provides 5 things that are very valuable:  1) Free 2GB of storage online with no file size limitation, no bandwidth limitation, 2) Both public & secured file sharing, 3) Single instance storage amongst your files & other Sugarsync users (i.e. if someone else has already uploaded a given file to the cloud, you don’t need to spend the time to upload it… it’ll just appear, 4) Ongoing synchronization with desktops, and 5) Windows Mobile client for viewing & accessing files.  (No sync is available like with Live Mesh)  You can also upgrade your free service to a paid service – $50/year will provide 30GB of storage.
  • Video Cache View
    After watching a video in a Web site, you may want to save the video file into your local disk for playing it offline in the future. If the video file is stored in your browser’s cache, this utility can help you to extract the video file from the cache and save it for watching it in the future.  It automatically scans the entire cache of Internet Explorer and Mozilla-based Web browsers (Including Firefox) and finds all video files that are currently stored in it. It allows you to easily copy the cached video files into another folder for playing/watching them in the future. If you have a movie player that is configured to play flv files, it also allows you to play the video directly from your browser’s cache.
  • FLV Viewer
    Looking for an easy way to play FLV (Flash Video) files downloaded from YouTube and other video sites? Get the free Applian FLV Player. It’s easy to use, and you can view videos at 1x, 2x or even full screen. Download this fully functional software for FREE now!
  • SDP Downloader
    This Free version of SDP Downloader can download the following protocols, remember this is for Windows Media Streaming only:
    – HTTP v1.0 streaming protocol – sometimes referred to as MMSH.
    – HTTP progressive (simple http download)
    – MMS, MMST and MMSU over both TCP and UDP transport protocols.
    It can also enable you to preview the stream while downloading – using your favorite existing media player, download Live and Pre recorded videos and music straight to your hard drive like a video recorder.
  • MaxMax (v0.981)
    Windows 7 is great however the fact that it doesn’t enforce a true sidebar like Windows Vista did is really annoying.  A true sidebar ensures that no window ever covers up sidebar applications ensuring that their information is always available on the desktop.  What MaxMax does is ensures that application windows, when set to “maximum” do not expand beyond the boundaries of a traditional sidebar on the right, ensuring that any gadgets that you’ve placed there remain visible even when applications are maximized on the desktop.
  • LogMeIn Free
    LogMeIn is an amazing service that’s FREE.  It’s a web service that provides individuals with secured access into computers they need to remote control.  Using a a highly optimized protocol, screen response time is extremely fast and connections are established in a secure manner, leveraging local login usernames and passwords.  Interestingly enough, Logmein also provides the ability to “power on” computers that have been turned off and have a wired Internet connection if the machine supports wake-on-LAN.  The service is also designed around “IT support” and to help you service computers you are responsible for – such as your parents, your customers, or your home computers.
  • SpaceMonger 2.11 (or 1.4)
    SpaceMonger generates a 2 dimensional map of your hard drive to see what directories and files are consuming the most space.  Great for clean up.  The 1.4 version is free but unsupported and old.  The 2.11 version is much faster but only available for free for 30 days until they want you to pay $25 for it.  (Personally I think this is WAY overpriced for what the tool does relative to other solutions but I ended up buying it anyway to support the developer)
  • Teracopy 1.22
    Teracopy is a file copy tool that optimizes execution of large file transfers (.VHD virtual machines, .ISO disc images, etc.) between attached storage such as USB/eSATA hard drives.  It assumes that the bottleneck in the file copy is the drive performance and ensures that the drive is writing from the cache and never starved for data from the source by expanding the local memory dedicated to the copy.  Great for copying large GB files from one drive to another – not good for network-based copies.
  • RichCopy 4.0 (216)
    RichCopy is a file copy utility for multi-file network transfers.  It assumes that the bottleneck in the file copy is the network and specifically spawns multiple threads to copy multiple files in parallel instead of copying files one-after-the-other (serially) to maximize network bandwidth.  Great for copying directories over a network connection – not good for “single large file transfers” between drives.  (See Teracopy)
  • Wizmouse
    WizMouse allows the user to use the scroll wheel on a window by simply hovering the mouse over it without clicking on it to change the context.
  • 7sidebar Gadget (v1.30)
    Longing to have the original sidebar available in Windows Vista?  Can’t seem to get one that works with BOTH Flash/Silverlight-based gadgets as well as allowing for ‘flyout menus’?  Your prayers have been answered.  The 7sidebar is actually a desktop gadget that allows you to contain other desktop gadgets in it.  It prevents windows from ‘maxing out’ over your gadgets so you always have your gadgets visible on your desktop.
  • DUMeter (4.16)
    This is the one thing I’m listing that’s NOT free.  I haven’t found very many bandwidth meters that meet my criteria for accurate metering.  DUMeter to date is the only one that I’ve ever been decently satisfied with.  It sits on top of your desktop always on top.  It can meter one or all of your network adapters.  It is ACCURATE and very easy to see when bandwidth is being used.  It shows you all the TCP connections you currently have and WHO those connections are with.  It even comes with a ‘gadget’ version that allows you to view the bandwidth graph/data in your sidebar.  The product has two major annoyances however:  1) It’s pricey.  A bandwidth meter that costs $25?!?  Yep.  And I bought it, if that tells you anything.  2) It’s gadget doesn’t work on x64 Windows.  It doesn’t even install.
  • KnockOut (v1.3)
    KnockOut is a Outlook-killer, as in, if Outlook is hung, KnockOut will kill it along with Word if necessary, since Word is often used as a mail editor.  Additionally, you can easily start a new mail, contact, meeting, task, etc. by right clicking KnockOut in the System Tray.
  • Windows Virtual PC
    Windows Virtual PC is the latest Microsoft virtualization technology. You can use it to run more than one operating system at the same time on one computer, and to run many productivity applications on a virtual Windows environment, with a single click, directly from a computer running Windows 7.
  • Microsoft Security Essentials
    Very simply put – this is the best antivirus product that you can consistently put on your personal Windows-based PCs.  Security Essentials provides protection that consistently beats the bigger names like Symantec & McAfee yet is 100% FREE.  It provides real-time protection that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. It’s simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. And for your parents, it’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good.  It’s that simple. Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.


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