back to article Ten excellent FREE PC apps to brighten your Windows

No matter if you're reinstalling Windows for the 47th time this fortnight or attempting to rid a new machine of bloatware in favour of something that's actually useful, the question remains: what alternative apps exist that don’t involve coughing up for obscene licensing fees? RH Numbers Fortunately there's plenty of …

  1. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Cygwin

    Gives you access to rather a few more free apps!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cygwin

      + 1 for Cygwin. I use Cygwin, but on that list Classic shell, VLC are definite. I usually recommened Malwarebytes to those friends and family who use Windows based stuff.

      On my Win8.1 laptop, obviously.

      However, I use Clementine for Music, because it is the same interface on my *nix based stuff as well as the Latop, then.

      However, I bet a fair proportion of Reg readers use the Putty toolset! That and VLC are probably the most commonly first installed things I have placed on a windows machine in the last 12 years.

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Re: Cygwin

        The trouble with Cygwin is that it runs applications on a kind of Unix/Linux compatibility layer, which leads to various impedance mismatches with Windows. For example, under Cygwin file name wildcard expansion is done case-sensitively, which is OK for Linux, but frustrating on Windows. Performance also suffers. If you want to use Linux apps on Windows, a better solution is to run a real Linux distribution inside VMWare or VirtualBox.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cygwin

          This is true. And Vmware is also used. But I use Cygwin mainly to manipulate things on windows because I know bash better than powershell, cmd etc.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Cygwin

          under Cygwin file name wildcard expansion is done case-sensitively

          Or case-insensitively, with a trivial configuration change.

          In any case, the point of Cygwin isn't "to use Linux apps on Windows". It's to provide a large subset of the SUS command-line toolset, plus many other FOSS command-line tools,1 under Windows and in conjunction with Windows apps. Running in a VM is a very different solution to a substantially different problem.

          I have to do a lot of Windows development, and it'd be a much less pleasant process were it not for Cygwin (or one of the other UNIX-on-Windows packages; before Cygwin I used Microsoft SFU, AT&T's U/Win, and MKS).

          1And GUI tools, using Cygwin/X, if you must. I've never bothered to spend the time getting Cygwin/X working in a satisfactory fashion. If the UNIX systems I use were closer I'd be inclined to, so I could run remote xterms, but due to network latency it's more convenient to use telnet or ssh.

      2. John Arthur

        Re: Cygwin

        +1 for Clementine. I use it on my Linux boxes and was so happy with it a Google search for "player like Clementine for Windows" turned up Clementine for Windows much to my surprise and delight. Works better on Linux though. I do get occasional hangs using it on Windows.

    2. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: Cygwin

      Will WINE ruin under Cygwin?

      For that matter, will Cygwin run under WINE?

      I'm going to have to spend the afternoon experimenting now .....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @JulieM Re: Cygwin

        ...and what happened?

        Your computer's cpu utlisation disappeared into a recursive black hole?

        Enquiring minds, and all that...

  2. WraithCadmus
    Thumb Up

    Duplicati and VLC

    I can recommend both, Duplicati is very flexible and has saved me more than once, and VLC could probably get a playable video out of a rock.

    1. joeW Silver badge

      Re: Duplicati and VLC

      Something I only discovered recently is that VLC can even play a video that's been split into multiple smaller RAR files (you know the type, *.r01, *.r02,...*.r15, *.rar). Just drop the .rar into VLC and boom - saves so much fucking time.

      1. Boothy

        Re: Duplicati and VLC

        Quote: "Something I only discovered recently is that VLC can even play a video that's been split into multiple smaller RAR files (you know the type, *.r01, *.r02,...*.r15, *.rar). Just drop the .rar into VLC and boom - saves so much fucking time."

        Thanks for that, I know XBMC can do that, wasn't aware of VLC doing it though. Been using Media Player Classic, Home Cinema version for quite some time, might have to have another look at VLC.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Duplicati and VLC

      I, on the other hand, have had VLC installed on my personal laptops for years, and I've used it maybe twice. But then I hardly ever use any other media player either. I guess that "for some unfathomable reason [I]'ve no desire to partake in any of the rich multimedia experiences that the internet [sic] can offer". At least not the ones that require a separate media player app.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Secunia PSI looked interesting, however it is only free for home PCs. Commercial organisations have to take their Small Business or CSI option. (SB is free for up to 5 PCs).

  4. JDX Gold badge

    Paint.net

    Is to MSPaint what NotePad++ is to notepad.

    1. Spiracle

      Re: Paint.net

      Seconded, I end up using it pretty much every day.

      KeePass is worth a shout these days too.

    2. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: Paint.net

      >Is to MSPaint what NotePad++ is to notepad.

      Not only that: Paint.NET is also capable of most common photographic fix-up operations, and is smaller and starts up fast compared to heavy-duty image processing applications.

    3. foxyshadis

      Re: Paint.net

      A very capable alternative to Paint.Net is PhotoFiltre; both are quite handy and can easily do lots of basic editing. XnView and Irfanview can do basic editing, but it's all too obvious that isn't where the focus is.

      GIMP is in a league of its own; not Photoshop by a long shot, but far beyond anything the above crop can do. If it's ever given a total revamp by a real UI designer (and they skip the interminable load time for font at startup) it'd be a one-stop shop for all things image.

      But somehow, in the desktop world there's just no equivalent to the instant-tweaking editors of the mobile world (Snapseed, Instagram, etc). Multiple times I've been upset that Photoshop, let alone all the free alternatives, makes it so difficult to do trivial things. There's still a long way to go in the editing world....

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Paint.net

        Too bad I can't use the "free" Irfanview at my workplace as a casual image viewer - it's only licensed to home users...

    4. synonymous cowherd

      Re: Paint.net

      Paint.net is a photo editor, bit of a misnomer really. Try the fantastic my paint for a proper creative experience.

    5. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit
      Pint

      Re: Paint.net

      Thanks to JDX and others for the paint.net tip, have one of these -->

  5. Khaptain Silver badge

    Peazip question

    I installed it recently as an alternative to 7Zip but I cannot find the means of Password Encrypting the created zip files. Is it possible ?

    Notepad++ a must for any Admin

    .

    Paint.net as JDX mentioned was unfortunately not in the list.

    BitTorrent client works extremly well ( dont ask).

    Keepass ( Another must have)

    1. Shane8

      Re: Peazip question

      peazip in my experience was horrible, would rather 7zip anyday!

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Peazip question

        >peazip in my experience was horrible, would rather 7zip anyday!

        For the moment I agree, 7Zip is definately better.

    2. darklordsid

      Re: Peazip question

      In PeaZip the encryption is featured and the function is called "enter password" (correct, but maybe quite unintuitive).

      WinRar is probably still the best of the bunch, although not *technically* free, anyway PeaZip is a good companion as it performs a lot of other useful little things, like hashing and file shredding.

    3. bpfh Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Peazip question

      Only bittorrent v2, the version without ads and wierd stuff.

      Only used of course to download the CD images for my Raspi, of course. You would not download a pizza would you ?

  6. Mint Sauce
    Thumb Up

    Process Explorer

    It's only surprising to include a Microsoft tool until you realise that the whole sysinternals suite & Mark himself were borg'd by the Big M some while ago. The tools were developed externally to MS. And, indeed in my windows programming days I made extensive use of many of them and was very glad they existed, as there weren't many alternatives back then.

    They were (and presumably still are) massive time-savers when developing software (that's what we did in the days before 'apps', kids! ;-)

    <shuffles off to reminisce about DLL Hell to anyone who'll listen>

    1. Steven Raith
      Go

      Re: Process Explorer

      Another excellent set of hackery tools is Nir Sofers excellent Nirsoft suite.

      A few of them (such as the one to snarf email account passwords from email clients) are picked up as malware by most AV software because they prod certain kinds of memory etc, but when you have to deal with people who set their email up ten years ago, and are only now replacing their PC, and don't know their password - it's a bloody godsend.

      Plenty of other useful stuff in there too, or you can just download the ones you want.

      http://www.nirsoft.net/

      I have no affiliation to Nir Sofer, other than finding the tools really bloody useful - definitely worth getting a hold of, and keeping somewhere useful in the corner of a USB drive.

      Steven R

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Process Explorer

        Just make sure you exclude them from you security suite. More than a few fall into the "backroom" category. Which is why they are useful in the first place.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: Process Explorer

          What Jack said - the fact that they do 'nasty' things for good purposes is one of the best reasons to have them.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Process Explorer

          backroom should be hacktool. Auto-correct has leagues to go yet.

          1. Martin-73 Silver badge

            Autoruns. (Another SysInternals borged by MS tool)

            It locates stuff that hours of poking in the registry and drinking clients' coffee won't find.

            I keep it and much of the above mentioned stuff on a flash drive, including photofiltre and paint.net, oddly. It's amazing how many people say 'oh and one more thing, any ideas on a cheap to free program lets me edit photos?'

          2. mikale

            Re: Process Explorer

            I rather prefer auto-correct's term... much more covert than "hacktool."

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: Process Explorer

              I rather prefer auto-correct's term... much more covert than "hacktool."

              Personally, I find the portmanteau "hacktool" ugly and entirely unnecessary. I'm with auto-correct on this one too.

              Regarding the Sysinternals tools - yes, I'd say the whole suite is more interesting than everything else on Shaun's list. (An archive utility is "excellent"? How low can our expectations go?)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Process Explorer

      I used Mark's programs, as well as Nir Sofer's, for any kind of diagnostic you could think of for security to just plain WTF situations. Still all part of any serious field engineering kit.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To make your Windows even better just install Linux. Easy.

    1. Alan Bourke

      Shite troll of the month award!

      Maybe I want to run some business software and games huh?

      1. James 51

        Re: Shite troll of the month award!

        www.gog.com have a range of titles that run on linux. FTL is a favourite.

        1. James 51

          Re: Shite troll of the month award!

          To the five six thumbs down I'd be interested to know what you disagreed with.

          1. DropBear Silver badge

            Re: Shite troll of the month award!

            I love GOG.com to bits, I really do. But it was just the other day I took a look out of curiosity at what OS download options it offered for my library of games fast approaching triple digits now, and at a cursory inspection I could find not a single game with a Linux option. I'm not denying such games do exist on GOG, mind you - all I'm saying is as long as I'm buying what I'm interested in as opposed to go around hunting for Linux-capable games, the site is pretty useless so far for quenching my Linux gaming urges. YMMV...

            1. James 51

              Re: Shite troll of the month award!

              Fair enough. There are sections of their forum dedicated to getting stuff to run on WINE so if you want to indugle in a bit of delving you might find something to distract you.

              BTW did you go I have these games and gog aren't offering them on linux or did you look through the linux options and not find anything that interested you? Not sure why but some games that have linux ports aren't available on gog but the ports are available on other sites.

              1. DropBear Silver badge

                Re: Shite troll of the month award!

                More like the first case. I might conceivably find something of interest if I looked hard enough with that intent, but to be honest it's not really surprising it works out this way for me: I'm literally interested mostly in the "good old games" GOG is famous for, and unsurprisingly those weren't exactly written with Linux in mind back in the day... (oh and that lone -1 isn't me)

                1. James 51
                  Gimp

                  Re: Shite troll of the month award!

                  There's always one :P

      2. vmistery

        Re: Shite troll of the month award!

        Downvote for the OP and Alan Bourke

        OP - It gets very old the Windows VS Linux debate and I run plenty of critical Business software on Windows

        Alan Bourke - It gets very old the Windows VS Linux debate and I run plenty of critical Business software on Linux

      3. Getriebe

        Re: Shite troll of the month award!

        Did Pott of the parish ever produce his list of LINUX software on which a small business could run?

        If not I would be interested on what you recommend for a 100 person small jobbing shop manufacturer - as a for example.

        Maybe an article?

    2. Amorous Cowherder
      Facepalm

      Normally I'd happily upvote anyone for the Linux ref, but this time you've made a bit of plonker of yourself as this is a list of free Windows software!

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Joke

        True, then again, what would have been the point of a list of free Linux apps ?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Coward..

      Typical Linux tard....

      YOU and your ilk are the reason I wont switch from Windows.

      I can get help minus the derision with MS's offering. I know Windows inside out (more or less) so I need a fucking good reason to jump ship. Why the fuck would I do that with nob heads like you at the helm...

      Just fuck off will you. Please...

      NB, retract the please. Just fuck off.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Coward..

        @cornz 1: Calm down, calm down. Take a few deep breaths. Go and hug someone. Give the cat a stroke.

        No-one's forcing you to switch from Windows, but not giving it a look because of a single AC's comment does seem a touch excessive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Coward..

          You miss the point.

          That attitude is prevalent in an overly large contingent of the Penguin brigade...

          As is the annoying propensity for them to hide behind the AC badge...

  8. thomas k.
    Thumb Up

    MalwareBytes & VLC

    I got infected with BuyNSave ad(mal)ware just a couple of days back. Using Add/Remove programs to uninstall it only removed it's name from the list off installed programs but MalwareBytes cleaned it right out.

    I upgraded VLC just this evening to the latest version and was pleasantly surprised to see that it now does actually remember your settings from the previous version. I only use it for .mp4s and before it was always a minute or two's hassle to uncheck every other file extension..

    1. VinceH

      Re: MalwareBytes & VLC

      "I got infected with BuyNSave ad(mal)ware just a couple of days back. Using Add/Remove programs to uninstall it only removed it's name from the list off installed programs but MalwareBytes cleaned it right out."

      MalwareBytes is my go to-tool when people give me an infected laptop to deal with. It can't be recommended enough.

      1. jason 7 Silver badge

        Re: MalwareBytes & VLC

        It's good now (it wasn't about 18 months ago..useless in fact) but don't rely on it to clean up a machine using just one scan from it.

        Run a second and many time it will find more stuff. Use two other products and I'll bet they find more that Malwarebytes missed.

        Addd Combofix into the final mix and see what that drags up.

        I see a lot of folks go "I just used Malwarebytes and it fixed it!"

        I bet it didn't.

        1. VinceH

          Re: MalwareBytes & VLC

          "It's good now (it wasn't about 18 months ago..useless in fact) but don't rely on it to clean up a machine using just one scan from it."

          I don't know what happened 18 months ago, but I've been using it successfully for a lot longer.

          FTR, I don't simply trust it to do the job - if it was that simple, instead of people bringing their computers to me, I'd just be saying to them "run this program" (pointing them at MalwareBytes) instead of giving up my time.

          I use MalwareBytes as my first line of attack but subsequent scans (both with MalwareBytes and with other software), hitherto, have shown the initial MalwareBytes scans to have successfully found and eliminated the worst, if not all, of the nasties. This is why I call it and use it as "my go to-tool" for the task - nothing else I've tried has been so effective, so early in the task. I praise it because it's earned my respect.

          Having said all that, people seem to have stopped bringing their infected laptops to me, so it's been a while since I last did this.

          I wonder if its because I started telling them how much I should be charging for my time, in a tone of voice that sounds like I'm a bit pissed off (and therefore hinting that I might start doing exactly that)?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: MalwareBytes & VLC

            I've noticed a drop-off in people looking for desktop and laptop repairs in the last few years and I've always charged (hey, my time is precious...). I put it down to increased use of tablets and even phones - when the laptop gunks up with crapware, I suspect it gets shoved in a corner. Think of all those perfectly good pieces of kit crying out for a reimage, a date with www.ninite.com and a session with CCleaner!

            1. VinceH

              Re: MalwareBytes & VLC

              "I've noticed a drop-off in people looking for desktop and laptop repairs in the last few years and I've always charged (hey, my time is precious...). I put it down to increased use of tablets and even phones"

              Ah, yes - very good point. I don't know if all of the people who used to bring their computers to me have become tablet surfers, but I do know that some have become rampant iPad users, so that might very possibly be the reason for it.

              So tablets are good for something, then. ;)

              1. Joe 48

                Re: MalwareBytes & VLC

                Does no one still use HiJackThis?

                Its the first thing I run to give me an overview of everything. Got used to spotted irregularities over the years and if unsure the web will analysis the log files for you.

                Then I run MalwareBytes to clean it all up.

            2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: MalwareBytes & VLC

              I've noticed a drop-off in people looking for desktop and laptop repairs in the last few years...

              True. I think it's partly because Windows has got better, and I almost never come across a computer that isn't running up-to-date anti-virus nowadays. 5 years ago people didn't know about the free options like AVG until I told them. Now they've probably at least got MSE/Windows Defender.

              But I take the case of my Mum, who's not at all unique. Last time I had to fix her desktop was June. When I checked, it hadn't been booted since late April. She checks her email daily, but has an iPad. Even for online shopping, she needn't leave the sofa to go the other room and turn on the PC. So she doesn't anymore. It got used so infrequently she's given it away, and got a secondhand Macbook Air.

              I hate using my iPad for anything serious. I like the ability to have multiple tabs, more screen space, and easily cut & paste stuff into lists. And a proper keyboard, so I can type at proper speeds. It might take me a couple of minutes to go to the spare room and fire it up, but it's so much more efficient when I get there.

              However I suspect many people were never efficient on their PCs. Were never comfortable with the interface, and can't touch-type. So the iPad is just as good, maybe even easier, and they can be sat on the sofa.

              Oh and a big thumbs up to Malwarebytes. I run multiple checks on PCs infected with nasties - often using a linux boot disc. So far Malwarebytes has been my first tool used, and none of the other scans have picked anything else. Except for once, when my brother decided not to pay Sky for the boxing, and went to some truly horrible site instead.

              1. Joe 48

                Re: MalwareBytes & VLC

                Never liked AVG. Used to install it on all friends laptops/desktop. But found it would expire after a year and stop updating causing me extra work. MS essentials might not be the best but its very low touch imo and thats perfect for friends kit.

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: MalwareBytes & VLC

      Does it still run rampant over file associations even when told not to? :D

  9. eek the geek

    Surprised there's no mention of CCleaner. Not only does it clean up your drive (you can choose what to clean and what to leave) it also checks your registry for errors, you can disable/delete startup options for windows, internet explorer, firefox and scheduled tasks. It also lets you pick and choose system restore points to delete and has a built in driver wiper.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      I manage a 10+ year old XP machine for my wife (who refuses to upgrade) and CCleaner is what keeps it stumbling along, should definitely be in the top 10

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        gee, your wife sounds like a great catch.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >>>> gee, your wife sounds like a great catch.

          I hope you are early teens and stupid, and not someone who genuinely found that funny.

      2. MatDey

        You should VM that machine for her...

    2. tony72
      Alert

      Opinions differ on this; personally I would never use tools like CCleaner, and I have seen systems completely trashed by using such tools. They do things that you either don't need to do and don't benefit from, or else can do more safely manually. There are plenty of articles on the dangers of registry cleaners, and on how little good they do, however as that article says, there will always be those who swear by such programs, and say they've never had a problem themselves, so I guess you pays your money and you takes your chances.

      1. janimal

        re: tony72

        As with any tool, they can be misused or misunderstood. There's nothing inherently wrong with CCleaner & other registry cleaning tools. The problem is usually the user.

        That's not to say I haven't borked a couple of dev installations in the past, but through my own fault not the cleaners. Back when I was a windows developer registry cleaners were an essential item when developing COM based software. Yes I remember DLL hell too!

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: re: tony72

          My view of CCCleaner is that it's like giving your average car owner a bluetooth OBDII reader, the Torque app....and an engine crane, socket set and angle grinder.

          You might let your mate Dave loose with it as he's pretty savvy and isn't likely to start trying to pull the engine out and take a deek at the main bearings - not without checking first as to whether it's wise.

          However, Chris, who just gets in his car, sees a crankcase pressure warning and decides that as he has the tools he MUST pull the engine to bits, and won't ask you for help till his engine bay is empty and the block is in one room, and the head in another.

          CCCleaner - best used by those who are cautious, or know what they're doing. Here be dragons. With great power comes gre...oh you get the picture.

          On a related note, I've found Revo Uninstaller quite useful for getting rid of poorly written programs (or where power has failed halfway through an application install etc) - but again, some care needs to be taken.

          Steven R

    3. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Boffin

      >it also checks your registry for errors

      CCleaner is crap, offers nothing msconfig & and regedit cannot do. Besides, it causes more harm than anything else.

      Think I am an idiot ? Well, you might consider reading this blog entry, by a veteran MS dev:

      http://askleo.com/whats_the_best_registry_cleaner

      iiiDON'T USE REGISTRY CLEANERS!!!

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        CCleaner != just a registry cleaner. The registry cleaner is the bit I generally don't use

      2. Purple-Stater

        @Hans 1

        Are you an idiot? Well, get halfway into the article you reference and Leo says "So if you’re going to use a registry cleaner, which one should you use?" and immediately says "CCLEANER".

        CCleaner's REGISTRY cleaner might not offer anything that MSCONFIG and REGEDIT don't, other than doing it all automatically in Less than 1% of the time that doing it with those options would take.

        You also seem to be unaware that CClenaer is more than a registry tool. By far it's most value aspect is the automated cleaning of browser caches, history files, log files, etc. etc. The Registry cleaner is a small bonus on top of that. CCleaner is worth it even if you only use it to uninstall software. You can be done before MS's tools have even finished the first step of trying to figure out what software is installed and provide you a list.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >>>> Surprised there's no mention of CCleaner

      Good call, CCleaner is awesome. Every time I fix a friend or relative's PC that "has gone slow" etc, CC is the first thing I do.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget kids, you can install many of these fine pieces of software quickly and easily using the (also free and incredibly handy) Ninite installer.

  11. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Linux

    file manager

    I have not used Windows for several years but if I had to I would need Total Commander. The free version has the least annoying nag screen in existence. It's a clone of Norton commander, Midnight Commander etc.

    Actually, anything is better than Microsoft's Explorer!

    http://www.ghisler.com/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: file manager

      The free version of XYplorer is one of the best file managers with a non-DOS interface ;)

      http://www.xyplorer.com/free.php

  12. wolfetone

    A Request for Windows 8.1

    Fantastic article, and I know this isn't a request forum, but Christ knows this is starting to piss me right off.

    <rant>

    I've an Asus Transformerbook T100, and I like it. I use it to play Football Manager, and to compose emails and create/read Word Documents that can be easily read or viewed by my clients when I'm out and about and my main laptop isn't practical. I use Office 365 to bridge the emails across this laptop and my Linux laptop/desktop.

    There is absolutely no way (as far as I can see) to link your Office 365 account to your user account on Windows 8.1. I can add the exchange email account to the laptop and it will sync my contact, emails and calendar. But it just won't integrate properly with OneDrive - even though Windows 8.1 has a OneDrive app.

    So, Microsoft or people who can lean on people at Microsoft. Maybe not for Windows 8.1, but definitely for Windows 10/9.x.in.disguise, make it possible to integrate Office 365 with your operating system. I can't be the only one to have this gripe surely?!?!?

    </rant>

    1. Fuzz

      Re: A Request for Windows 8.1

      you have to sign on to windows using your 365 account

      1. wolfetone

        Re: A Request for Windows 8.1

        I think I tried that and it didn't recognise my 365 account as a windows live account. Which I know it isn't, really, but still.

  13. Frankee Llonnygog

    Just to send a bunch of the above

    A Windows PC without paint.net and notepad++? No thanks. And VLC - I install it on everything user device I own.

  14. John Miles

    Agent Ransack

    One I find invaluable is Agent Ransack for searching local PC - http://www.mythicsoft.com/agentransack

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Agent Ransack

      AR - Indispensable for searching file names and contents. Filelocator Pro (paid for) is better again.

      And for instant search results, locate32 (a file indexer) is right behind it:

      http://sourceforge.net/projects/locate32/

  15. batfastad

    My essentials...

    7zip, Notepad++, VLC, Irfanview and SumatraPDF

  16. Alister Silver badge

    Ten excellent FREE PC apps to brighten your Windows

    Blimey, I feel like I've fallen back through time and I'm reading a PC mag from the mid-nineties...

    1. Richard 81

      An article like this is always nice from time to time. The free AV tools people used to suggest are now bloated pieces of junk (I'm looking at you AVG), so pointing out the alternatives to those who haven't been following the trends is always helpful.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's because this is a helpful post likely to make you feel more positive. Most Reg articles have the opposite effect...

  17. Fuzz

    VLC

    Why does everyone love VLC so much, I've always found it to be resource hungry and buggy. I've always preferred MPC-HC

    1. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: VLC

      > Why does everyone love VLC so much, I've always found it to be resource hungry and buggy.

      I at least have not found it to be resource hungry and buggy. Don't know about loving it, but since VLC generally plays any type of media I throw at it, and is free, I tend to install it on any computer I use for any period of time.

      1. T_o_u_f_ma_n

        Re: VLC

        I used to swear by VLC on Windows (and I still use it on Android) but it no longer works straight out of the box for me on some rather common formats (Wave for audio, .MP4 for video). Other players handle the files without the audio/video desync or the constant stutter so I've leaned towards MPC-HD and MediaMonkey/Foobar2000 for my needs. I'm not 100% sure what changed or whether I somehow borked my install (and subsequent updates) but I had to abandon VLC as my single goto software for all things audio/video...

    2. Paul Shirley

      Re: VLC

      I dislike the ui enough to not use vlc as my default player but it's essential for the the times mpc decides it can't play a file. In my experience mpc is at least 10x more bug ridden than vlc and has extremely poor handling of file errors and sucks more cpu. I really need to man up and drop it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: VLC

        > I dislike the ui enough to not use vlc as my default player

        VLC has quite a large collection of alternative skins available; if you don't like the default UI there are plenty of alternatives to choose from.

    3. tony72

      Re: VLC

      +1 for MPC-HC. I usually have a copy of VLC installed as well, but it's a player (/streaming server/converter) of last-resort. VLC has always been way behind on hardware-accelerated decoding, so lots of battery suckage on your ultrabook or tablet, and it's behind in other ways as well, but it has its uses.

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime
        Coffee/keyboard

        "VLC has always been way behind on hardware-accelerated decoding..."

        That's ok, my Laptop is well behind the hardware acceleration bleeding edge.

        Vlc has been my goto for media files for a good 10 years now, through 3 laptops (current one has done 4 years so far and is way down my spending list - at least until Halflife 3 gets released!)

        Icon because the keyboard is coffee stained.

      2. tony72

        Re: VLC

        To whoever gave that a thumbs down, I do hope you know that until about four years ago, VLC didn't even support hardware-accelerated decoding at all, and in most of the time since it did get support, it was partial, and in some cases actually ended up with little net benefit in CPU usage. The latest version still defaults to having hardware-accelerated decoding disabled, at least on windows, and there appears to be no support for it in Raspbian. This may all be due to the cross-platform nature of VLC, but the comment about VLC's support for hardware-accelerated decoding is very much factual.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: VLC

      I've always preferred MPC-HC

      I'll second that. I just wish there was a *nix version.

    5. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: VLC

      VLC is not just a video player/streamer ... you record top notch movies of your desktop - stuff I do with ffmpeg on Linux .. and it can convert <anything>2<anything_else>.

      The ui is terrible, however, I have not encountered a bugged vlc in years ... the only bug that affected me saw it crash when I searched in a playlist and that was years ago. I do not use it daily, though ...

    6. Ketlan

      Re: VLC

      'Why does everyone love VLC so much,'

      Thank God someone has had the balls to say that at last. Hate VLC, love MPC via the K-Lite Codec Pack.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: VLC

        I generally use the KMPlayer. Also free, also with built-in codecs, also plays absolutely anything I care to throw at it, but it was the first player I saw at the time that was able to easily load and display .srt subtitles over a DVD being played (for a language the DVD itself lacked subtitles for, obviously). I could conceivably have done something similar mucking around with external filters and overlays, but in my view the ole' DLL hell was cushy heaven compared to those...

        1. batfastad

          Re: VLC

          MPC-HC is great as well. I ran that on my HTPC, until that became OpenELEC. And ran it on my laptop, until that became Linux.

          But the fact you don't have to dig out some codec pack always makes VLC a good bet for computers that come under the "family tech support" contract I seem to have signed up to.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eraser + SSD

    Previously I've used this, and been happy with it (I don't bother with 35 over-writes, mind you, three at most is going to do the job). But I'm not sure that it'll work with increasingly common SSDs. My guess is that the firmware of the SSD will translate over-write requests, and Eraser will be burning through the limited write cycles of some cells (and the SSD subsequently needing to erase even more blocks) without necessarily hitting the intended data.

    TRIM should erase most deleted data, but it's not going to touch deleted data if some of the block is still in use?

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Eraser + SSD

      Most SSD manufacturers have a "toolbox" software available which can do the ATA Secure Erase command. The procedure takes just seconds and doesn't affect the SSD life. Your BIOS may also contain a Secure Erase option.

      Microsoft has included the cipher.exe CLI utility since Windows 2000 and it can write zeros to all unused/deleted portions and that's been good enough for me when I'm retiring or re-using drives.

    2. toughluck

      Re: Eraser + SSD

      Depending on the implementation and controller, TRIM will destroy any meaningful way to restore the data from an SSD.

      If the disk uses encryption and/or compression, TRIM will prevent any restore of the data since it also drops all pointers to how the data is arranged, how it is compressed or what encryption key is used.

      And theoretical methods to restore data from magnetic drives are unusable on SSDs, the cells of which deteriorate/degrade much quicker than magnetic domains on a hard disk. Even if you were able to recreate the bits, you've no idea what they represent, if the data is encrypted or compressed and you have no way to rearrange it.

      As for the Gutmann method, Wikipedia has an excellent article about it, and Gutmann himself says it best -- 35 passes was never needed for any drive. The first and last four passes are with random data, and there are RLL (two methods) and MFM-specific passes. MFM "needs" 18 passes at most, (1,7)RLL "needs" 26.

      In case of modern PRML disks, these MFM- or RLL-specific passes do nothing special and are completely unnecessary.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Eraser + SSD

        In case of modern PRML disks, these MFM- or RLL-specific passes do nothing special and are completely unnecessary.

        Yes. And even back when most folks had MFM or RLL drives, how many of you had data so sensitive that an attacker was likely to crack the case and examine the platters with magnetic-force microscopy?

        Most of the "secure erase" modes are just sops for the paranoid. For conventional drives, overwriting sectors once covers all the reasonable branches of the attack tree for nearly everyone. (Obviously that needs to include any sectors that might contain stale copies of sensitive data, if your threat model includes attackers with any real ambition.) You almost certainly don't have any secrets worth the cost of disassembling the drive and scanning the platters, and if you do, there will nearly always be a cheaper way to get them.

  19. Alan Bourke

    Cmder

    ... if you want a command prompt approaching what you get on Linux.

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Cmder

      Cmder^H^H^H^H^HMsysgit

      http://msysgit.github.io/

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cmder

        Console is another one.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cmder

      ConEMU is pretty good - it allows multiple panes and tabs:

      https://code.google.com/p/conemu-maximus5/

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux + VirtualBox Windows VM (except if you're into games)

    All the software listed has replacements in the Linux world, but available as distro packages. I think that the best advice for a computer literate person is to install and use Linux for everything. If you have some Windows app you can't avoid, get that Windows license and install it in a VirtualBox VM where you install these Windows only programs. Spare the Windows license if you don't need any.

    Works very well for me, but I'm not into games in general. In that case (son, I'm looking at you) you'll end up installing Windows anyway.

    1. Jes.e

      Re: Linux + VirtualBox Windows VM (except if you're into games)

      Seconded!

      I found a long time ago that running our stores 286 DOS+Geoworks environment ran much better on a slightly less obsolete 200 Mhz Mac running 7.6 in a virtual PC software emulation.

      Plus, they could print on our shiny new (used) Apple Laserwriter.

      The entire stores multi partition hard drive now sits comfortably on a single Zip disk as a single file. The store is no longer; so yes, fitting it on a Zip would no longer applie.

      With the advent of Windows instead of reinstalling once or twice a year, you simply save the users data, derez the now slow as molasses and malware ridden virtual hard drive, substitute the old backup you made when you first installed AND updated your original windows machine, update it again (a partial, much faster), create a new backup, and go about restoring the users data and applications.

      I now use a Macbook Pro and Parallels which has checkpointing for the file system, so I can even try out something risky, by checkpointing the file system (I do have to shut down Windows here) which takes seconds, install the dodgy software and revert back to checkpoint if things don't work out.

      I realize Windows has a checkpoint function, but it is lengthy and does not really work if you are installing drivers or other system level components.

      Plus, the checkpointing (or archiving) in a virtual environment works for any OS you might be running, not just Windows.

      It makes ones life so much more stress free.

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Linux + VirtualBox Windows VM (except if you're into games)

        >I realize Windows has a checkpoint function, but it is lengthy and does not really work if you are installing drivers or other system level components.

        Such as rootkits, for example.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Linux + VirtualBox Windows VM (except if you're into games)

      I've been a UNIX developer since '87, and a Linux once since sometime in the mid-1990s. I work on Linux and UNIX systems pretty much every week. I have Linux VMs ready to be spun up on all of my machines, corporate and personal.

      But I can't see taking the time to replace the pre-installed Windows host OS with a Linux host OS, just to run Windows in a VM. I have to run Windows for work, and once in a while I need it for my personal machine, so it's a hell of a lot easier to just keep pre-installed Windows, throw Cygwin on so I can use bash and the SUS toolset, and when I want Linux run that in a VM.

      I used to run Linux natively on my laptops, back in the late 90s / early 2000s; for a few years I carried around both Linux and Windows drives, and I'd swap the appropriate one into the laptop depending on what I needed to do. But when VM technology got good enough to reliably run Linux in a VM, I simply no longer found it cost-effective to run it as the host OS on my laptops.

  21. Missing Semicolon
    Happy

    7+ Taskbar tweaker

    http://rammichael.com/7-taskbar-tweaker

    Gets rid of the useless preview windows on hover over taskbar buttons, and has a "cascade all" option for grouped taskbar buttons.

    I use it on 7 as well but it was part of what made Win8 tolerable for me.

    1. Clive Galway

      Re: 7+ Taskbar tweaker

      +1 for 7+TT

      I also turn "Combine Icons" the hell off.

      Plus if you have multi-monitor, add to that "Dual Monitor Taskbar" to add a taskbar to your second monitor.

      http://sourceforge.net/projects/dualmonitortb/

  22. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    Password Safe for me.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Windows

    Missing 2 things...

    One of the things which I think should also be in the list is an image viewer. I'm actually surprised that none was included because well, surely we still like to look at a few pictures every once in a while? I'm very happy with IrfanView. It's an image viewer which provides tons of extra features as well, including features such as editing your pictures a bit (scaling / resizing, cropping or cutting out a selection and obviously plenty of filters and effects to apply).

    When it comes to editing then it's not always perfect (trying to cut a transparent PNG file can sometimes be a little awkward, I usually resort to The Gimp for that), but it goes a very long way for "merely" an imageviewer.

    Second; although you mentioned a program which can make it easier to copy things onto cloud environments, what about copying files to local storage media or even regular network shares / drives? I've become quite fond of TeraCopy. Its a free copy program which also has a paid counterpart. The reason why I like this program is because despite the commercial alternative it doesn't get in your face. You can use it to its full potential, even though the authors obviously hope that you'll get the commercial version too.

    And clicking "test" while copying a large(r) file only to discover that the copy action did not go as expected and that the copy checksum failed can really be a priceless experience.

    Finally... Sure, Winzip and Peazip are excellent programs. I'd still would like to mention WinRAR too. An archiver which has been with us for decades already; I licensed this product during the BBS era (last century) and I still have and use a license today (to be honest; I got new licenses too; one for my company and a new one for personal use, simply because it makes little sense to advertise for your BBS these days ;)).

    It's a brilliant piece of software IMO, I especially like the integrated checksum parts where it can add a so called "recovery record" (both embedded or detached) which allows you to repair an archive in case it should get damaged. Invaluable option... It heavily leans upon the so called PAR checksum options; a format which allows you to create a checksum block which can also be used to recreate parts of the original file.

    This feature alone makes WinRAR a very powerful archiver for me; especially when we're talking about making backups which are meant to be kept around for an X amount of time.

    1. Cico

      Re: Missing 2 things...

      +1 for WinRAR and parity.

      Since you're from BBS time, and may have been in the Amiga scene, I'll throw in Directory Opus as a file manager :)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Missing 2 things...

        as long as it's DOPUS 4.1x !

    2. BongoJoe

      Re: Missing 2 things...

      +1 from me for TeraCopy.

      Not only is it a million times faster (give or take) copying large amounts of files especially over a network but one can skip copying files that already exist.

      When I am setting up a new machine and am copying folders by the ton from another machine it's the first thing that I install to make my life that much easier.

      Then there's one application which is great at doing folder back ups to NAS files. Again, this is a free version of a paid product, but SyncBackFree is simply a super little back-up app for files and folders.

  24. Alan J. Wylie

    Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+

    Forgotten this article?

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/11/lavasoft_has_new_owners/

    > Anti-spyware company Lavasoft AB is now owned by a set of online entrepreneurs who have been linked with misleading websites.

  25. Andy Nugent

    Ninite.com

    Not so much a free app; but a really easy way to setup a PC (and keep it up to date) with a lot of free apps (including several mentioned on this list).

    Select the apps you want, download a 200kb installer. Run and it installs them all silently. Run again and it updates them all for you.

  26. Patrick R
    Facepalm

    But what does this actually do ?

    When out of 10 "excellent PC apps", only 2 (Notepad++ & VLC) are actually helping you to DO something, while the remaining 80% are only improving your OS in some ways, it says a lot about wasted time.

    1. Jes.e

      Re: But what does this actually do ?

      "When out of 10 "excellent PC apps", only 2 (Notepad++ & VLC) are actually helping you to DO something, while the remaining 80% are only improving your OS in some ways, it says a lot about wasted time."

      With Windows, you work on your computer.. With Mac, you work *with* your computer.

    2. Clamps Silver badge

      Re: But what does this actually do ?

      " only 2 (Notepad++ & VLC) are actually helping you to DO something"

      True dat. Does 7zip count as doing something? I like that one - Fast efficient lightweight ,no nagging.

      Free apps that I've found that really do stuff , easily and without fuss are : A bulk filename renamer ( good for mp3s) , a picture resizer (also does bulk) , a measurement converter (converts anything). Unfortunately cant remember their names and sites. oh that winamp things pretty good for music.

      I'm struggling to find any apps for my Smartphone that actually DO anything. 95% of "apps" just seem to be interfaces for a company website or other billboard type sales gizmos. Doubly hard if you dont have unlimited data too.

  27. Fading
    Thumb Up

    And a mention for my favorite Hex editor......

    XVI32 - for when you really need to edit a text file.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And a mention for my favorite Hex editor......

      or keeping in the Notepad++ theme, there's this option for notepad++, for when you really need to edit a file in hex:

      http://sourceforge.net/projects/npp-plugins/files/Hex%20Editor/

    2. Stefan 6

      Re: And a mention for my favorite Hex editor......

      try Frhed instead .. does the same but is a bit easier on the eyes.

  28. Sir Awesome

    Antivirus

    Downvotes ahoy here, but does nobody else think Microsoft Security Essentials does a damn good job compared to pretty much every other similar piece of software out there? I know it's built into Windows 8 and perhaps slightly unnecessary for newer PCs, but it's one of the best I've ever come across.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Antivirus

      "does nobody else think Microsoft Security Essentials does a damn good job "

      It certainly behaves itself - light on resources, quick, invisible, doesn't nag, and (as far as I know) it hasn't let me down. But most lab test results for MSE are less good against free alternatives, and even "real world testing" scenarios show it lags dedicated free products by sizeable margins. Do a search on dottech real life detection rates (or read other tests) and see what you conclude. I'd not put too much store by pure lab tests as there's too much gaming by different vested interests, but the various real world scenarios still tend to suggest that MSE isn't technically quite as good as third party products.

      From the MS Security Intelligence Report for 1H14, around 2.4% of WIndows 8.1 machines with no active AV protection (ie MSE turned off and no third party AV active and up to date) had reported problems. For machines with any form of active and unexpired AV the WIn8 infection rate was around 0.6%. In reality the 10% difference in performance between best AV and MSE is not very significant - the most common problems of AV infection are down to expired or inactivated AV products, plus user behaviour.

      On balance I'm sticking with MSE - I know its not the best, on the other hand I'll take the risk because I've found third party products unduly intrusive and resource heavy, and because I avoid using attack vectors like IE, Acrobat and Java, and to keep reluctantly tolerated rubbish like Flash under control with Flashblock.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Antivirus

        Microsoft's AV stuff is ideal to force a bit of protection on the low end user, someone who doesn't get being careful out there, let alone maintaining their PC and paying for updated AV software.

      2. jason 7 Silver badge

        Re: Antivirus

        The reason why MSE scores low on Virus tests nowadays is because as MS rightly states...it's the baseline for protection. As it's the widest used AV out there it's therefore, the one to beat by the bad guys.

        I still use it with no ill effects along with EMET5.1 switched to maximum.

    2. Flatpackhamster

      Re: Antivirus

      I like it. It's fast, it's light on resources and it does a reasonable job of keeping a machine minty-fresh.

  29. Ashton Black

    +1 for these:

    Notepad++

    VLC

    PuTTY

    WinRAR

  30. cd

    Photo Editors

    Two free ones that don't get much mention, both offer Linux builds, Darktable and Lightzone. I have another primary photo app I use, not free, but both of these appear to be quite capable when I try them periodically LZ was commercial.

  31. Sheep!

    Excellent round up and now I will have to check PeaZip out having sworn by 7-Zip for many a year!

  32. mccp

    Wireshark

    Might be a bit less used than 7-zip and VLC, but Wireshark is the dog's bollocks for any network diagnostics.

    1. Adam 1

      Re: Wireshark

      Or fiddler if you are dealing with http.

    2. Getriebe

      Re: Wireshark

      Look at

      metageek and net scan tools

  33. Fenton

    Gimp

    Great app for photo editing for free

  34. John H Woods Silver badge

    My $0.02

    In addition to many excellent suggestions (thanks) in the article and the preceding comments, perhaps I could just mention Emacs; the UnxUtils collection of native (not cygwin) core utils; the whole of the rest of the suite that ProcessExplorer belongs to (Autoruns, Handles, Sysmon, PSservice etc). Also something for mounting ISOs is nice (I use VirtualCloneDrive), and on the subject of disks, I love WinDirStat and its graphical representation of how storage is used (roughly equivalent to Linux's Baobab). And is it just me that loves Q-Dir as a Windows Explorer replacement?

    I also like to have a few extra command-line binaries like sha256sum, base64 etc.

    (Probably just me, but I always have GnuPlot, GeoGebra and a free Smalltalk development environment - such as Squeak or Pharo - as well)

    And - not an application, but any windows system I use, first thing I do (ok, after installing a Dvorak keyboard YMMV) is to put the task bar up the left hand side, with small icons, so you can actually read what the windows are! And what else are you going to do with all that horizontal space when the vertical resolution doesn't allow 2 A4 sheets side by side?

  35. HippyFreetard

    I'm a Linux, but...

    Any time I set up a Windows PC, or do any of that post-cleaning stuff, I have a list of software that I shove on almost automatically.

    I put MSE on my own non-professional Windows box, but I put Comodo on my partner's web dev box.

    Then goes on MalwareBytes and SpyBot S&D. Haven't used AdAware for about ten years myself, but I'll have to give it another look. :)

    Also, Total Commander for filing stuff. Git and git bash are great too, I've started using it even for ordinary backups. XAMPP, Notepad++, FF/Chrome, 7-zip, GIMP, Inkscape etc. are all available as portable apps too.

    I used to use these things called Little from Sourceforge. There was Little Registry Cleaner, and Little Defrag. They were great, but then they went all bad with dodgy malware. Maybe they've learned their lessons, but I'm still mad at them.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    radical option

    You only need one truly great piece of software on windows

  37. ruralr

    Calibre for ereaders

    Surprised Calibre hasn't be mentioned. Although it's not just Windows

  38. StephenH

    To install all in one go

    Best way to obtain and install of the the apps mentioned is ninite.com . Tick the programs you want from the list and it installs them all with a single click while bypassing the optional adware that many come with

    1. x 7

      Re: To install all in one go

      my one experience of using Ninite installed a bunch of crapware.

      Never touched it again and I never will

      1. Calum Morrison

        Re: To install all in one go

        Check your browser settings then - ninite is not and does not install crapware; quite the contrary. Used it lots and never had any issues with it. Your problem is not ninite.

  39. durandal

    Irfanview. A must have.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VLC denied by MalwareBytes

    I just tried to download VLC. MalwareBytes was very adamant about not downloading it and not going to the page it was on in the developers site.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VLC denied by MalwareBytes

      Maybe like some of the rest of us it just prefers the earlier versions.

      1.1.11 still works well but version 2 and after not so much....

  41. leeCh
    Go

    Here's my suggestion for AV + some others

    Go here first: AV-Test.org

    I resorted the results (Protection, Performance, Usability) and turned up 360 Internet Security as a really good free option. What I also like is that they list the default Windows AV option as 'the baseline'.

    VLC - don't get the Windows 8 version (it's still too crappy) - go for the classic.

    I'd also recommend WinDirStat for finding what's taking up all the room on your disk. And Auslogics DiskDefrag (but none of their other stuff).

    The other tool I always have is XVI32 - best freaking hex editor out there.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windiff + Depends

    As a developer, those two saved my life more than a few times and still do occasionally...

  43. Adam 1

    Also some sad goodbyes. Pdfcreator used to be one of those must installs before they started bundling spyware in their installer.

  44. Zap

    Classic email mistake from The Register

    After all these years have the owners of The Register lost the plot?

    Do you not know anything about email marketing?

    Your emails are often opened because of the Subject line, but then you fail to follow through because the thing you promise in the subject line (this page) is buried down below. At the very least it needs to be "above the fold" meaning either the first item or at least visible without scrolling.

    Your whole job is to distract busy people and make them visit your site, so this failure to follow through is huge. It make you look as if you are promising something that is either not delivered because it is hidden.

    Hopefully you will do better in future.

  45. Clamps Silver badge

    notepad+ yes! yes! yes!

    notepad+ yes! yes! yes!

    I tried going back to notepad std yesterday as plus wasnt installed on the machine I was on. Immediate fail. No line numbers! I'm not counting to line 545 to find error!

    Its about time MS updated the std notepad with at least line numbers! theres been times in the past before i discovered npp+ that i actually reverted to the DOS editor because its better than std notepad.

    MSpaint has only just become useful now that it can save in a format other than a huge BMP - Now do something useful to notepad! (not that ill be using it given the choice, just in emergencys)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: notepad+ yes! yes! yes!

      The standard Notepad has also has a long-time padding bug. Open a large text file and make changes and save, and the cursor location and / or text layout no longer matches the internal representation. It would be hilarious if this wasn't Microsoft actually trying!

      This is a company who doesn't even bother to include a File-Copy 'overwrite all newer' option... Its a company that's moving so fast backwards, that in Win7 if you try and copy 10GB or newer files on top of 10GB of older files of the same name the file copy will fail unless there's 10GB of free space!

      M$ you're sad! Oh how I enjoy having to type System~= filename every time I can't find a file that the OS should return the first time round.. And don't get me started about searching through code for comments. I have to use XP boxes for that! .... This is progress... WTF???

    2. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: notepad+ yes! yes! yes!

      Its about time MS updated the std notepad with at least line numbers

      There is a l33t hack to get line numbers in notepad: View->status bar (you have to turn off line wrap). It doesn't make it much less rubbish than many other text editors but it is there.

      hth

  46. ecofeco Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Excellent suggestions

    Good job El Reg!

  47. nk

    Well I suppose a browser should technically be mentioned too but its way too obvious and nobody really needs advice on that.

    Office suites: We're talking free here so with MSOffice out of the picture, most people would default to Libre Office. I however find Kingsoft Office to be much better if all you need is word, excel and powerpoint alternatives. The last one is particularly well developed and definitely superior to the libre equivalent.

    For an even more bare bones system, abiword and gnumeric for word and excel respectively are decent alternatives too and open most standard files.

    And for as long as Optical drives are still somewhat relevant, I still install a copy of ashampoo. Great Nero alternative with all functionallity I need but without the bloat

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