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  1. #1
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    Windows Secrets' ultimate utilities list 2014




    BEST UTILITIES

    Windows Secrets' ultimate utilities list 2014


    By Tracey Capen

    Simple, cheap/free utilities are arguably the most important software we install on our PCs. If fact, when Windows users set up a new system, they often start by installing their favorite collection of helper apps. Windows Secrets contributors regularly recommend useful utilities in their columns. Here's our occasionally published list of essential and interesting apps.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/best-utilities/windows-secrets-ultimate-utilities-list-2014 (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
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    Macro utilities?

    It would be great if you included macro utilities: amazing what you can do with them, and the depth of support.
    I used to use PowerPro, but switched to AutoHotKey recently. Both are free.
    Get your AutoHotKey from http://ahkscript.org/ as there is another version round that is more or less orphaned.

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Rick Corbett's Avatar
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    I second the inclusion of AutoHotkey.

    Under Browser add-ons, I would also add Adblock Plus (free; advert/popup blocker for Firefox and Chrome)

    Under Networking, I would add Xirrus Wi-fi Inspector (free, 2.4 GHz wi-fi monitor)

    I would also add Piriform's Speccy (free; System Information utility - I find the portable version most useful)

    And Everything (free; files and folders search engine)

    And System Restore Explorer (free; view/delete/mount System Restore points)

    Oh, and every single one of Nir Sofer's utilities (all free and portable).

    Finally, an oldie that I've used several times a week for the last seven years - Pegtop's Pstart (free; index/catalogue most commonly used on USB sticks containing lots of portable utilities)
    pstart.png
    Click to enlarge
    Last edited by Rick Corbett; 2015-01-01 at 09:28.

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    Ultimate Utilities

    The one particular utility I use all of the time every day, and with which I wouldn't be without, is ClipMate, now in its 7th. edition. Although it's not free, for under $35 or 22 it's worth every penny (sorry - I'm Engish). It can be downloaded from http://www.thornsoft.com/index.htm for a 30 day free trial. I couldn't live without it!

  5. #5
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    The utility Metageek inSSIDer (free), the web site only shows paid versions. I use the utility ClipCache Pro at http://www.xrayz.co.uk/clipcache/. It costs $29.95 and I have been using for years.

  6. #6
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    Funny, looking over the list. I use and recommend many of the same apps. In some cases, I needed an upgrade and tried your suggestions. In many other cases, I used a couple of other sites I like and you've since migrated to the same recommendations. The good apps rise above.

    I've come back to using SyncToy again for a secondary backup with my NAS (mainly used as a media server). I've shifted to using VVV for indexing archive DVDs. My old loved app hadn't been updated in too long. I use Advanced Renamer for periodic batch renaming.

    I use File Hamster for backup-on-save of key files and folders. The Basic version reverts to free on expiry of the trial period, though this is no longer mentioned on the site.

    My own main backup routine is Win7's backup utility weekly for the boot drive and programs but Cobain for the data drive on a daily incremental routine.

    And I know Fred speaks otherwise but I've found SlimDrivers very useful for fixing weird problems that point to a hardware issue. Often, it's a non-apparent driver issue that an update will fix.

  7. #7
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    Watch out for foxit reader. They had some issues this past year when they decided to sneak conduit search in with their product. I got hosed after doing an upgrade where it automatically installed. After manually getting rid of conduit and cleaning up all the browsers on my system I also got rid of foxit and went to SumatraPDF. It's adequate for what I need. To be fair, according to the foxit support forum they no longer include third party software but I have no experience with that. http://forums.foxitsoftware.com/foru...-malware/page4
    Maybe someone here can chime in with an update. Happy New Year!

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    WS Lounge VIP access-mdb's Avatar
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    I installed Foxit Reader in October and it's updated since then. I don't seem to have any adware etc. due to using it - just checked via Revo Uninstaller.

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    Super Moderator Rick Corbett's Avatar
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    Foxit Reader hasn't included any third-party software since version 6. It's now at v7.0.6.1126. Note that it does include Foxit Cloud (unfortunately).

  10. #10
    WS Lounge VIP access-mdb's Avatar
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    At least Foxit Cloud is easy to remove, though it gets put back on an update. But it then asks why you wanted to remove it - you can then vent your spleen at them!

    And if you don't register there's nothing to worry about anyway.

    Rick, we seem to be posting within minutes of each other

  11. #11
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    It appears that there is indeed an error in the list when declaring inSSIDer to be free. It is not. Xirrus WiFi Inspector is an acceptable free alternative.

    As a Linux and Windows user, I also have the option of using the Linux package LinSSID. While not as pretty as inSSIDer, the graphs are familiar, and there is enough information to locate sources of same-channel interference and act upon that information.

    PSI is great for locating and updating (or finding for removal) insecure and outdated software and plugins. But sometimes there are other reasons to update software.

    For a general-purpose updates checker, KC Softwares SUMo ("lite" version has no adware) ( download ) will not only tell you if there's an updated version based on security issues, but if there is a new version available for some other reason. (Make sure you select the portable or "lite" download option. You may also have to tell your security software to make exceptions for the download and the installer process. This is a false-positive, but only for the "lite" and portable versions) As with any updates suggestion program, you should not try to update any obviously driver-related software, and you should not ask for Beta suggestions. Many, but not all, plugins will also show up.

    For uninstalling programs, Geek Uninstaller ( site ) is a free, portable application (does not need to be installed), and it handles 64-bit software, forced removals and other features which the free version of Revo Uninstaller does not handle. Leftovers cleanup is comparable to Revo.

    For PDF handling, NitroPDF Free Edition, PDF Split And Merge (SAM) ( site ) and pdfCrowd can accomplish what Foxit Reader does, and then some. Sometimes a combined approach in a single program isn't the best solution -- in my opinion.

    For browsers, I like not to collect tracking cookies. So in all my browsers I use Blur or DoNotTrack Me from Abine ( comparison chart ). In Firefox I use their Better Privacy and Ghostery add-ons. I also crank up CCleaner by checking off a few optional items. Did I mention I really don't like being tracked?

    Mini-Tool Partition Wizard ( site ) and/or gParted (available in many Linux Live CD ISO images) do a nice job of managing partitioned drives, and both are free. Both also run outside the OS, which makes them useful for tasks which need all partitions to be inactive.

    A System Image Backup program is still useful, even if Windows can now Refresh and Reset fairly painlessly. EaseUS ToDo Backup Free Edition ( site ) does this job. A System Image program can also sometimes solve boot (MBR) issues without completely restoring the disk or its partitions. When Windows won't boot, sometimes the best solution is to have a tested WinPE Rescue CD or USB Flash Drive to get things started. Image Backup programs usually offer this option these days.

    Some of the programs listed under Hard Drive (Diagnostic and Repair) are built on the free tools in my own list. I prefer not to pay for something I can get for free.

    Please note that Windows 8 has changed the way Windows passwords and product keys are stored. The tool listed for password recovery may no longer work in some Windows 8 computers and devices. And like many low-level utilities, this one will be flagged as malicious by any good security program. Further changes in password and product key storage may be expected for Windows 10.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2015-01-02 at 14:07.
    -- Bob Primak --

  12. #12
    WS Lounge VIP access-mdb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    It appears that there is indeed an error in the list when declaring inSSIDer to be free. It is not. Xirrus WiFi Inspector is an acceptable free alternative.
    InSSIDer 3 is free from http://www.techspot.com/downloads/5936-inssider.html. I see that v4 is $19.99.

  13. #13
    Super Moderator Rick Corbett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by access-mdb
    Rick, we seem to be posting within minutes of each other
    'cos I type v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y...

  14. #14
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by access-mdb View Post
    InSSIDer 3 is free from http://www.techspot.com/downloads/5936-inssider.html. I see that v4 is $19.99.
    If you want to run the security and stability risks of using an older version, this would be just fine. I don't know about inSSIDer, but some old versions of paid software are free for good reasons.
    -- Bob Primak --

  15. #15
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    If you want to run the security and stability risks of using an older version, this would be just fine. I don't know about inSSIDer, but some old versions of paid software are free for good reasons.
    I'm using Inssider 3 on a Windows 8.1 laptop with no issues. What you say about old versions can be true but please don't generalize this for all uttilities. In many cases the old versions work fine with just fewer features.

    Jerry

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