Tools for Windows
The number of utilities available on the Internet can be overwhelming there are tools to “de-fragment the registry”, “tune up Windows”, “remove stubborn software” you name it the list is endless. So to help you sift through the pile we’ve picked out some of the nuggets we found and best of all they are free to use.
Our top picks
Windows Remote Assistance
TeamViewer and LogMeIn have their places for establishing sessions to a remote site or customers but for on site connections I like to use Windows built in remote assistance. In our big office I can use it to connect to end users on a different floor and save my little legs without having to install any additional third party software. What’s also cool is that some people like to see what you’re doing on their desktop and remote assistance won’t lock the screen unlike remote desktop.
Problem Steps Recorder
Another great Windows built in freebie, I’ll bet almost all of you had those moments in IT Support where you’ve gone to repair a computer and when you get there the errors gone! Well with the problems steps recorder you can have your end users replicate the issue and the recorder and get them to send over a file it creates with screen shots and other useful information in a file for you to analyse.
Everybody’s heard of WinZip and WinRar but the problem with these are that you need to pay for them, enter 7Zip which is free for both personal and commercial use. Don’t be put off by the simple looking GUI interface as it provides a high compression ratio which rivals that of WinZip and supports packing for most formats such as 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP, and WIM.
When my anti-virus software lets something slip through the net and infect my computer I use Malwarebytes to clean up the nasties which is free to download and use. This handy scanner can efficiently catch and remove all kinds of worms, trojans, and spyware lurking on your system. There’s also a premium version available which offers features such as real time scanning, heuristic protection, and scheduled scans.
Running out of space on your hard drive and need to reclaim some storage capacity? CCleaner is a more powerful version of the built in Windows Disk Cleanup utility with advanced features to tidy up the registry and clean up files from other applications. I would advise caution when using the registry cleaner and recommend anybody to backup the registry and carefully go through the problems it has identified before clicking fix.
Accidentally deleted a file or folder and need to get it back, well Recuva is a data recovery program that could help you find files you thought were long lost gone. What I like about Recuva is that it’s nice and easy to use, with the wizard you can select type of file to recover whether it be pictures, music, videos or documents. This helps narrow down the what needs to be found and in turn the time to locate a file, if a quick scan does not find anything you can enable deep scanning for a more thorough search.
OpenOffice is an office productivity suite that’s a great alternative to Microsoft Office if your on a tight budget. It comes with six applications:
- Writer which as you might have guessed is a word processor
- Calc a spreadsheet application
- Impress for producing presentations
- Base a database program similar to MS Access
- Draw a graphics editor similar to Ms Visio
- Math a tool to create mathematical formuale
Whilst OpenOffice doesn’t have the same polish and sheen that Microsoft Office it’s a case of you get what you pay for and for free the quality of these apps is nothing to grumble at.
VLC Media Player
The VLC media Player has been a big rival to most media players on the market. They have been a player of choice other than Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, or even Winamp. With its open-sourced architecture, they maintain a unique availability offering, with updates and plugins available. With the likes of playback pitch, tempo controls and unique AC3 codec imports making them a versatile player in the industry.
Smart Defrag 3
The Smart Defrag 3 is a fragmented drive’s nightmare. Made by IOBit, this small and seamless utility sits neatly in the system tray, constantly watching the hard drive for signs of fragmented files. When it detects signs of fragmented files, it will automatically place them in their proper locations on the hard drive thus speeding up disk access.
We recommend this product as a a nice freebie, as it has the ability for a ‘boot-time defragmentation’ option, which will force fragmented files that Windows uses to the front of the disk, thus renewing disk speeds. Coupled with this Swiss army knife of tools comes a real-time readout of the fragmentation status of the hard drive as it happens, so you can be sure of the state of your drives.