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The useful freeware programs thread!

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SuperFarStucker

Member
Joined
May 2, 2005
Location
Seattle, WA
UI enhancements
  • XP TaskswitchPro
    A lightweight Alt-Tab replacement. Similar to the XP powertoy only with more useful features. Uses less than 1MiB of system memory!! A must have for productivity.

  • Launchy
    You don't know how sweet this program is until you try it. It is an ultra-lightweight shortcut (and other filetype if you so choose) indexer. Instead of ferreting through your start menu looking for an application you simply hit ALT+SPACE and then type in a string to find the shortcut.
    So to find, for example, the shortcut "Play battlefield 2 now!" You would only have to type "bf2", A must have for power users, I don't know how I lived without it.

  • allSnap
    This is precisely the program needed to break away from the "FullScreen" application paradigm. Snap windows to screen edges or other windows. Very customizable and fairly lightweight (less than 2 MiB of memory). No longer fumble around trying to tile windows on your display.

  • Royale Theme
    An update to luna that makes it not suck. Done by microsoft, so you don't even need to use a cracked version of uxtheme.dll.

  • RocketDock
    If you're a fan of the mac style interface you won't know what you did without this. There are other programs which offer similar features (Yz dock, Stardock objectdock), but none are as stable or lightweight. Personally I am not a fan of the "dock" but those who are love this program.

  • MS TweakUI
    Absolutely necessary for tailoring the interface to meet your needs. Most people know about this tool, but most of the features it offers are subtle. Auto-Logon on boot (not secure), customization of mouse hot tracking, removal of the annoying "shortcut" graphic overlay, etc.

  • StrokeIt
    Custom mouse gestures for applications. I like the idea, but will have to use it more before I can definitely say whether it is a must have.

  • WinRoll
    Emulates a common feature of Linux Desktop Environments, "Roll up", good for a quick peek behind some huge window.

  • Sizer
    Resize windows to predefined sizes, send to location on screen, etc.

  • Hot Key Plus
    Bind custom hotkeys to .cpl, .exe or other filetypes. Very nice.

  • Taskbar Shuffle
    Rearrange items on your taskbar. Not of much use to me, but perhaps to others.

  • Vista transformation pack
    Makes your XP interface look similar to Vista. Backs up and replaces many system files. Thanks to tenchi86 for this suggestion.

Hardware monitoring / [over|under]clocking / Benchmarking

  • Prime 95
    Needs no introduction. A great tool to test your system for stability.

  • 3dmark 06
    The latest iteration in a long line of benchmark sweets by Futuremark. Scores from 05 do not correlate well to 06 (the score calculation algorithm is completely changed) so most use both.

  • SuperPI MOD
    You can't really talk about CPU performance without this microbenchmark. It is deeply flawed, in the respect that the program's algorithm is very much slower than best-known algorithms for computing Pi and that it doesn't have any sort of strong correlation with cpu performance in gaming/etc. Part of its ubiquity stems from its ease of use and reproducability. There are no configuration options so it is relatively simple to do an across the board comparison.

  • Pi Fast
    A lesser known but much more efficient pi microbenchmark. Even on my relatively slow 2.6 GHz A64 it is capable of doing 1M digits in ~2.5 seconds, which is over a 3 fold improvement over WR SPi scores (~8.xxx seconds afaik). Is the fastest known program for computing pi to > 160,000,000 significant figures on PCs.

  • Stu's QPi
    An even lesser known Pi microbenchmark. Even more efficient than Pi Fast for significant digits < 160M. With the default profiling I achieve 1M scores of ~2 seconds, after running the profiler I get 1M scores of ~1.3 seconds. Basically makes SPi (which takes ~33 seconds to 1M on my machine) look like a sick joke. ~32M score is 1 min 44 sec.

  • rthdribl
    A popular program for testing the stability of video card overclocks. I typically take the old fashioned "play a game and see" approach but some people prefer a more defined method. Shows off some cool lighting effects too.

  • CPU-Z
    Tells you all kinds of useful information about your processor and system memory.

  • CPU Rightmark
    Not very useful for overclocking but for notebook machines it is an absolute necessity. Allows you to change the VID/Multiplier tables for mobile cpus, which can add a considerable amount of battery life to your machine and reduce heat output as well. Also has chipset specific options for even more power savings.

  • Everest
    Provides useful information about your system, and a series of pure synthetic benchmarks. Has a limited number of uses. pseudo-benchmarks do not compare across versions either.

  • SiSoft Sandra
    A battery of synthetic benchmarks. Has become less popular lately as the results don't compare across versions and don't tell you anything particularly useful about your hardware.

  • ATiTool
    If you're going to overclock your ATi video card, there doesn't exist any other option. A 1 man reverse engineering crusade, you should be thankful for his endeavors as without them you would be stuck at whatever Overdrive saw fitting to cap your clock rate at. Very featureful, but also very buggy. Sometimes requires a voodoo chicken dance to get it functioning at all. Has very limited functionality on nVidia's cards.

  • RivaTuner
    The solution to gpu overclocking with nVidia. Very featureful and stable. Development pace is quite slow. Very limited functionality on ATi cards.

  • SpeedFan
    Needs no introduction to this crowd. It has superceded MBM as the defacto temperature monitor. You want this.

System Utilities
  • Process Explorer
    This *should* be the default Task Manager. It tells you everything there is to know about your system in a compact and efficient manner. It can replace task manager by going to Options>replace task manager. Awesome utility.

  • Windows 2003 Resource Toolkit
    If you plan on doing any automation at all on your windows machine this is a must. Works perfectly on Windows XP despite its name. Gives your shell a bare minimum of basic functionality.

  • ExplorerXP
    A free replacement to explorer. Not much to say. I prefer other non-free program managers but this one is a good alternative for the cost conscious. Lightyears ahead of the default file manager that comes with windows.

  • Autoruns
    msconfig on steroids. A must have.

  • XP Antispy
    For the paranoid among us, disables automatic updates and other questionable features built into Windows XP. Thanks to FeuerFrei for this suggestion

  • Safe XP
    Disables questionable and potentially unsecure features in Windows. Also contains various other system tweaks to improve security or usability. Thanks to UnseenMenace for this suggestion.

  • Total Copy
    "A great file moving tool. Of course it is freeware and simple.," Thanks to EnablingWolf for this suggestion.

  • Unlocker
    Can clear file locks/mark file for deletion on reboot. Basically, makes those pesky undeletable files deletable.

Antivirus & Security

  • AntiVir Personal Edition
    Has scored high on the homebrew antivirus tests here. I use it, and it works well and is relatively non intrusive for an AV program. Only uses about 30 MiB of system memory. Scan speed is decent. It does have a nag-screen on the daily update but it doesn't interrupt your work.

  • AVG Antivirus
    Can't say I've ever used it but other people like it.

  • ClamWin
    Yet another antivirus option.

  • Avast! Home Edition
    A competent AV program. Thanks to TollhouseFrank for this suggestion.

  • Kerio Personal Firewall
    I've used this program before, and as far as software firewalls go, it is pretty damn good. Much more resource friendly than ZoneAlarm, but I personally can't stand the nagging. If you're paranoid this is probably for you.

  • Sygate Personal Firewall
    Another option, have never used this one before.

  • Comodo Free Firewall
    Looks to be a featureful firewall. Integrates into Window security center and looks quite simple to use. "A free efficient firewall," Thanks to FeuerFrei for this suggestion.

  • Filseclab Personal Firewall
    Yet another option to try for a personal firewall. This one does have some advertisements for other programs this company creates, but they are relatively unobtrusive. Thanks to TollhouseFrank for this suggestion.

  • SpywareBlaster
    Forgive the cheesy name. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and prevent is precisely what this neat little app does. It creates a blacklist of known bad activeX controls and other nasties waiting to infect your machine when a friend or family member uses it. Utilizes no resources and simple to use.

  • Ad Aware
    Hardly needs an introduction. One of the better spyware removal programs. A necessary tool in your arsenal if you want to repair a borked windows PC. Thanks to TollHouseFrank for this suggestion.

  • Spybot S&D
    Complements Ad Aware, absolutely necessary for fixing up a spyware laden pc. Thanks to TollhouseFrank for this suggestion.

  • Eraser
    Securely deletes files by writing over them several times. Thanks to shadowdr for this suggestion.

  • DBAN
    A bootable floppy disk that securely wipes an entire disk drive. Useful when disposing of a machine or passing it on to others. Thanks to Adragontattoo for this suggestion.

Web Browsers

  • Opera
    I don't know how they could make the interface any better.

  • Mozilla Firefox
    A popular choice. A definite upgrade from some of the more primitive browsers.

  • Internet Explorer 7
    A huge upgrade from Internet Explorer 6.

Audio & Video

  • Foobar 2000
    The best audio player for windows, hands down.

  • Winamp
    A popular choice as an audio player. It's pretty.

  • CCCP
    A newer codec pack, seems to have better compatibility than KLite. Thanks to G-PHoRCe for this one

  • Media Player Classic
    My personal choice for a video player. Easily configured to do what you want it to.

  • Audacity
    A featureful sound editor. "Does pretty much everything when it comes to audio," Thanks to FeuerFrei & baylord for this suggestion.

  • tranzcode
    "It seperates 6 channel DTS files into 6 mono WAV files. It does this VERY well and very fast.," thanks to jimmsch for this.

  • CDex
    A fully featured CD audio extractor. "Rips Audio CDs - Access to CDDB database," Thanks to FeuerFrei for this suggestion.

  • EAC
    Another CD-DA extractor. The workflow in this program is great and it produces the best possible rip quality. My personal choice for a CD ripper.

  • VLC Media Player
    Lightweight multimedia player. Thanks to FeuerFrei for this suggestion

  • Burnatonce
    A simple cd burning application, main nicety is that it supports FLAC. Thanks to matva for this suggestion.

Miscellaneous

  • Miranda IM
    Connects to all networks (jabber, aim, icq, msn, yahoo, irc). Not much of a looker but it gets the job done and has some useful features.

  • Nokia Monitor Test
    A program which is quickly becoming irrelevant due to the planned obsolesence of CRTs. Contains a battery of tests which are useful for calibrating focus/convergence/geometry on a display (these are never issues on a LCD) among other useful features.

  • Undead Pixel
    Great for spotting dead/stuck pixels on a LCD, and even has a utility which occasionally fixes a stuck pixel. Thanks to mbigna for this suggestion.

  • Fraps
    A nice frame counter for directX.

  • Rainlendar Lite
    A quirky but thoroughly useful calendar application.

  • FoxIT PDF Reader
    We all know Adobe Acrobat is a spawn of satan. This takes care of that nasty little problem. Small, lightweight.

  • PDFCreator
    A virtual printer for creating PDF documents. Extremely useful. "plugin for windows that allows you to 'print' any document to a virtual printer that in turn, creates a PDF file." Thanks to TollhouseFrank for this suggestion.

  • Hamachi
    A great tool for making a VPN.

  • CCleaner
    The best cruft cleaner out there. I don't recommend clearing out your primary browsers cache/cookies (just an inconvenience to you). Also, absolutely do not let it delete your prefetch data, will only slow your machine down. Aside from those caveats this makes for a great all purpose temp file deleter.

  • Ext2 Filesystem driver
    Reads Ext2/3 and writes Ext2 (can write to Ext3 as well but it isn't journal aware). A must have if you dual boot. I've tried the other ext for windows filesystem driver and it has corrupted data on my ext2/3 partitions when I hibernate my windows machine. This one works great though.

  • PuTTy
    A very popular SSH/Telnet client.

  • WinSCP
    An awesome and very configurable SFTP/SCP GUI.

  • OpenOffice
    The only "alternative" to Microsoft Office. Is adequate for performing the majority of tasks one would undertake with MS Office, but at no cost. Thanks to FeuerFrei for this suggestion.

  • 7-zip
    Reads all common compression archive formats. Thanks to icedragn for this suggestion

  • ZipGenius
    "very nice GUI compression tool with nice features," Thanks to UnseenMenace for this suggestion.

  • CoreTemp
    Monitors CPU temperature, widely acclaimed as "most accurate." Thanks to FeuerFrei for this suggestion.

  • Driver Cleaner PRO
    The best solution for eradicating old drivers lurking in your sytem. Thanks to albynomonk for this suggestion.

  • nLite
    "allows you to merge updates and hotfixes and all kinds of other stuff to make your own personalized windows install cd," Thanks to TollhouseFrank for this suggestion.

  • BartPE
    Great for rescuing spyware infected pcs or doing simple data recovery, similar to Knoppix, only it is based on the Windows Preinstallation Environment.

  • Namu6
    Free html editor, wysiwyg editor. found it last night browsing, nothing fancy, but it works, does the job and it's easy, thanks to cornbread for this suggestion.

  • Nvu
    A freeware WYSIWYG web development suite (like dreamweaver). Thanks to UnseenMenace for this suggestion.

  • GetDiz
    Useful little tool for viewing *.nfo and *.diz as they were meant to be used.

  • Synergy
    "Synergy is a great lightweight program for sharing a keyboard and mouse between two computers that are next to each other. It works with more than one monitor per computer as well," thanks to grumperfish for this suggestion.

P2P/Filesharing

  • CoreFTP
    "Free efficient FTP, not as good as WS, but it's free!" thanks to FeuerFrei for this suggestion.

  • Azureus
    A big bloated torrent program. Has everything including the kitchen sink. Despite its enormous memory footprint (sometimes exceeding 100 MB) I still prefer it. Many of its features simply don't exist in other Torrent programs.

  • uTorrent
    A very small and compact torrenting program for Windows. Do not let it's size decieve you, it is very featureful. "Small, Fast, Reliable, uses next to no RAM and I have yet to see it crash," Thanks to FeuerFrei for this suggestion.

  • BitComet
    One of the first torrent programs, has a healthy featureset. Thanks to Neur0mancer for this suggestion.

  • QNext
    A featureful P2P program. Not just for filesharing! Also has remote desktop and messaging capabilities. Thanks to Neur0mancer for this suggestion.

CD/DVD Burning Software

  • CDBurnerXP
    A great replacement for Nero. For all your DVD/CD needs.

  • DVD Shrink
    A great tool for ripping dvd-video discs. Thanks to AngelfireUk83 for this suggestion.

  • DVD Fab Decryptor
    For ripping dvd-video to your hard disk. (nagware?) Thanks to AngelfireUk83 for this suggestion.

  • ImgBurn
    Burns most DVD/CD image formats. Thanks to Neur0mancer for this suggestion

  • Handbrake for Windows
    The quintessential DVD ripping tool for OS X has been ported to Windows. Great for making videos for your iPod. Needs to be paired with a CSS Decryptor. Thanks to eli for this suggestion.

  • Daemon Tools
    WARNING: optional adware install, deselect during installation (typically *AFTER* you reboot).
    The standard in drive emulation. Paired with mini images makes for a great alternative to rummaging through disks to play games.

Imaging browsing/editing

  • IrfanView
    Awesome image editor reads nearly all formats (even CRW & CR2), has good resize filters, intelligent cropping, etc... lightweight. Meant for simple operations on images (rename, resize, crop, tag, convert, etc.).

  • Paint.NET
    Fully featured editor. Similar to photoshop, only it is free (opensource).

  • GIMP for Windows
    A popular choice on linux, more mature and more featureful than paint.NET although GTK on windows is like using a Humvee as a boat. Still a great choice if you're looking for something more powerful than paint.NET. Thanks to icedragn for this suggestion.

  • Picasa
    Google's image browser. It is like Adobe bridge, only better, and free!


Comments? Suggestions ( Win9x/NT Freeware ONLY!). Would love to hear them.

In my opinion this is exhibit 1 for why Windows trumps Linux and OS X.

It would be great if people could post their own experiences with software on this list, as it will help improve the quality of the list. Don't feel the program has a fair blurb? Write a new one!
 
Last edited:

AngelfireUk83

Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2004
DVD Ripping:

DVD Shrink 3.2 - Probably the most known piece of ripping software available.
http://www.dvdshrink.org/what.html

DVD Fab Decrypter - Is available to buy but they also release a free version which rip's DVD's but doesn’t compress like DVD Shrink. Updated once a month or so with new remove protection protocols.
http://www.dvdidle.com/free.htm

Antivirus & Security

Zone Alarm - A very well known firewall that has a free version and is commonly known as been very good. I haven't used it personally but have installed it on a few PC's who are in need of one.
http://www.zonelabs.com/store/conte...alm/freeDownload.jsp?dc=12bms&ctry=GB&lang=en
 
OP
SuperFarStucker

SuperFarStucker

Member
Joined
May 2, 2005
Location
Seattle, WA
True enough. There has been several threads like this historically but none of them include the majority of applications I list here and they are all now defunct.
 

FeuerFrei

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2006
Silentnight Microburner!

Awesome CD/DVD burner (Standalone - no install)

XP-Antispy - Disable annoying "features" of windows

Comodo personal firewall - Free efficient firewall

Filseclab Firewall - As Comodo but harder to use, don't require registration

OOo (OpenOffice.org) - Really needs presentation?

Cdex - Rips Audio CDs - Access to CDDB database

Audacity - Does pretty much everything whenit comes to audio

Edit: Added descriptions
 
Last edited:

FeuerFrei

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2006
CoreFTP - Free efficient FTP, not as good as WS, but it's free!
OCCT - Most reliable stability test out there IMHO, have many comps not OCCT stable but they all passed Orthos-SPI-Memtest-3dMark-Prime. I think it's a good complement to all the others
VLC Media Player - I have yet to find a video/audio/stream that VLC can't read... I use it all the time
uTorrent - Small, Fast, Reliable, uses next to no RAM and I have yet to see it crash

EDIT: Winrar is a shareware
EDIT2: Descriptions
 
Last edited:
OP
SuperFarStucker

SuperFarStucker

Member
Joined
May 2, 2005
Location
Seattle, WA
FeuerFrei said:
CoreFTP
OCCT
VLC Media Player
uTorrent

EDIT: Winrar is a shareware
That's a good point. Does anyone know of a freeware program that handles as many formats as WinRar?


Also it would be nice if you could put in a little blurb about what makes the program useful/different from the competition and include a link to the project's official site or a place where you can get an up to date version.

I'd like to keep it down to 2 or 3 programs with similar functionality, i.e. not just any freeware but useful freeware. Thus far everything looks good. I'm planning on adding more sections as there is obviously a lot of stuff that doesn't really fit into "miscellaneous" I can think of a dozen overclocking tools that deserve mention for example, and it seems that dvd ripping needs a category of its own as well. A bit busy today though.

I think perhaps if we end up with to many programs in one category we can hold a "vote off" in another thread to see which ones are most preferred. I don't mind about a long list but bloat would kind of defeat the purpose.
 
Last edited:

icedragn

Member
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Location
Ontario, Canada
SuperFarStucker said:
That's a good point. Does anyone know of a freeware program that handles as many formats as WinRar?


Also it would be nice if you could put in a little blurb about what makes the program useful/different from the competition and include a link to the project's official site or a place where you can get an up to date version.

I'd like to keep it down to 2 or 3 programs with similar functionality, i.e. not just any freeware but useful freeware. Thus far everything looks good. I'm planning on adding more sections as there is obviously a lot of stuff that doesn't really fit into "miscellaneous" I can think of a dozen overclocking tools that deserve mention for example, and it seems that dvd ripping needs a category of its own as well. A bit busy today though.

I think perhaps if we end up with to many programs in one category we can hold a "vote off" in another thread to see which ones are most preferred. I don't mind about a long list but bloat would kind of defeat the purpose.

http://www.7-zip.org/

Altho I prefer winrar, it compresses much faster than 7-zip, and even tho it's not free you only get nagged by a little "please register" window after 40 days which you can just close :p
 

FeuerFrei

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2006
Oh, I forgot Coretemp, maybe THE most accurate soft out there to monitor temps, as it reads directly from the inside of the CPU, not on the socket
 

FeuerFrei

Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2006
Because DVD decrypter isn't developped anymore, and lacks support for some recent protection while others don't
 
OP
SuperFarStucker

SuperFarStucker

Member
Joined
May 2, 2005
Location
Seattle, WA
FeuerFrei said:
Silentnight Microburner!

Awesome CD/DVD burner (Standalone - no install)

XP-Antispy - Disable annoying "features" of windows

Comodo personal firewall - Free efficient firewall

Filseclab Firewall - As Comodo but harder to use, don't require registration


OOo (OpenOffice.org) - Really needs presentation?

Cdex - Rips Audio CDs - Access to CDDB database

Audacity - Does pretty much everything whenit comes to audio

Edit: Added descriptions

SilentNight CD/DVD burner
not freeware! link


Filseclab Firewall - As Comodo but harder to use, don't require registration
http://www.filseclab.com/eng/images/firewall1.gif this product contains built in advertisements, which doesn't technically bar it from being freeware but seeing as we already have a large array of personal firewalls I will refrain from adding this to the list for the time being.

Everything else will be added shortly.
 
OP
SuperFarStucker

SuperFarStucker

Member
Joined
May 2, 2005
Location
Seattle, WA
FeuerFrei said:
CoreFTP - Free efficient FTP, not as good as WS, but it's free!
OCCT - Most reliable stability test out there IMHO, have many comps not OCCT stable but they all passed Orthos-SPI-Memtest-3dMark-Prime. I think it's a good complement to all the others
VLC Media Player - I have yet to find a video/audio/stream that VLC can't read... I use it all the time
uTorrent - Small, Fast, Reliable, uses next to no RAM and I have yet to see it crash

EDIT: Winrar is a shareware
EDIT2: Descriptions
I'd include OCCT but the project is now defunct AFAIK link and you need 2 user accounts to run the test on dual core systems, which is a bit of a kludge. IMO the other programs you've listed under stability testing are more straightforward.

Everything else is great.