Commonly Recommended Software, Links, And Tips

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Commonly Recommended Software, Links, and Tips

The following is a list of software, tools, websites, and resources that are commonly recommended by our members. They are broken down into sections below.

Last Updated March 3, 2009. If you find an error or a dead link, or would just like to add items to this list, please contact a Windows Expert, Moderator, or Admin.

Have something that should be added to the list? Simply contact any Windows Expert, Moderator, or Admin and they can make the addition. This is not a final list. It will be growing and changing with time.

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Security Tools

Keeping your computer safe is not limited to the internet. You also need to keep it secure when you are not on the internet. Opening files of dubious origin always involves risk of infection or hijacking, but you never know about the ones that your friend brings . Often it's someone else using your computer that infects it unwittingly. Peer to Peer file sharing is also a major source of infection. While in the past most viruses targeted security holes in Windows or Internet Explorer; nowmost take advantage of social engineering to lure you to click to install something or exploit holes in third party applications like java, flash, acrobat reader, winzip etc. These "zero day" exploits can allow a malicious site to install software silently without your antivirus being able to detect or block them. Keep up to date.

Internet Security: Keeping your computer secure is your first line of defence against hackers, viruses, trojans,hijackers, spammers, and adware. These programs and sites will help you make the a little bit easier. They will also educate you about the threat and your computer, and is one of the most important parts of computer maintenance you can do.

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Audio/Video/Image tools

These websites give excellent information about converting video and making DVDs, VCDs, SVCDs, editing audio, editing images, and other media maipulation.

  • VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth netwo
  • has information on making DVDs, VCDs, andSVCDs.
  • DVDRhelp convert has information on converting files into DVD, VCD,and SVCD formats.
  • TmpGenc video conversion program.
  • Irfanview will display and edit pictures and video in most formats.
  • Audacity edits audio files.
  • Photo Freeware dot net Your Photography related Download source for freeware.
  • FastStone Capture 5.3 (last freeware version) Superb and again the Last Freeware Version should be bookmarked.
  • PIXresizer 2.0.3
  • SUPER Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer Use Internet Explorer for download.
  • RawShooter Essentials 2006 1.2 RAW workflow software that sets new standards for digital photography. It is a fully functional RAW converter, which allows any level of user to get excellent results with the minimum of effort and knowledge. It provides the highest quality output and fastest conversion time for any RAW converter on the market today. Version 1.2 now supports 15 additional DSLRs and also includes support for the RawShooter Color Engine add-on, user-selectable Thumbnail appearances and image magnifier.
  • GIMP A great FREE substitute for Photoshop
  • AVI2DVD Freeware one step conversion from AVI to DVD ISO or reverse. Slow but effective. Best option is just to buy a DIVX player.
  • AVI2VCD Convert AVI to VCDs.
  • WinAmp
  • CDBurnerXP is a free application to burn CDs and DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs
  • ImgBurn is a lightweight CD / DVD / HD DVD / Blu-ray burning application
  • Ashampoo Burning studio Free full featured CD/DVD/Blu-Ray burning suite that enables you to create data, music, video and audio discs. You can also create backups that span across multiple discs, rip music tracks from Audio CDs and create or burn disc images in ISO or BIN/CUE format.
  • Picassa The easy way to find, edit, and share your photo.
  • Quicktime Alternative
  • Realtime Alternative These allow you to play quicktime and realtime media respectively without the proprietary players. No registration, advertising, annoyances, etc.
  • KMPlayer An exciting free multi-format media player
  • ImageShack and Photobucket are free image hosting sites where you can save pics for your signature or to let friends see.

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Tweak Sites & Software

The following is a list of resources to tweak your windows configuration. Some may help speed up your system while others can give more functionality.

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Guides and tools to help with your networking needs.

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Hardware and Software Utilities

Need to find out something about your computers hardware or software? These utilities will provide information, benchmarks, speed tests, find problems, check for outdated drivers, and tell you your computers operating temperature.

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Startup Utilities

Startup managers are programs that help you control the way your operating system starts up. With these programs you can enable or disable programs and services that automatically run each time you start your computer. You can control what runs on startup for better performance,more features, or just to see what something does. I need to warn you though, making changes to the startups that are too radical can get you into trouble. You may have to boot into safe mode and restore your settings back a day if you significant changes to your startups and XP refuses to restart properly.

Also; Heed the warning about MSConfig. Especially if you have an newer version of windows such as XP or Vista.

Why you should not use MSCONFIG to control startup entries in XP and Vista

If you have been using MSConfig as a startup manager please read this.

Pertinent Microsoft Article

  • Codestuff Starter is a startup manager, that allows you to view and manage allthe programs that are starting automatically whenever Windows boots. It lists all the hidden registry entries, as well as the common Startup Folder items as well. You can choose to safely disable selected entries, edit them or delete them altogether (if you know what you are doing). Expert users can even add their own entries.
  • Autoruns for Windows shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and shows you the entries in the order Windows processes them
  • Startup Delayer allows you to specify which programs to start first and which ones to delay. You can set a custom delay for each one, even drag the visual display graph which shows you exactly how your programs are starting and allows you to easily modify the order or adjust delay times.
  • Mike Lin's Startup Control Panel Startup Control Panel is a nifty control panel applet that allows you to easily configure which programs run when your computer starts. It is simple to use , very small and won't burden your system.
  • Bootvis| Bootvis is a tool for experts, used to help figure out what causes a boot delay.
  • SysInternals AutoRuns for Windows (ID's the most registry startups of all programs)

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Microsoft Replacement Software

Sometimes Microsoft just charges too much for its software. Other times, the free alternatives out there are simply better. Here's a list of good tools that beat out Microsoft

  • Mozilla Firefox An excellent web browser that is faster and more secure than Internet Explorer
  • Opera Browser a free web browser and Internet suite
  • a free cross-platform office application suite. Great replacement for Microsoft Office
  • Mozilla Thunderbird Firefox's email counterpart. More secure than Outlook.
  • Cygwin a Unix-like environment for Microsoft Windows
  • Console a Windows console window enhancement. Console features include: multiple tabs, text editor-like text selection, different background types, alpha and color-key transparency, configurable font, different window styles
  • 7-ZIP Open source Windows utility for manipulating archives (such as .zip, .rar. and .tar files)
  • Free Download Manager Is a powerful, easy-to-use and
  • absolutely free download accelerator and manager. Moreover, FDM is 100% safe, open-source software distributed under GPL license.
  • Notepad+ Notepad++ is a free (as in "free speech" and also as in "free beer") source code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages. Running in the MS Windows environment, its use is governed by GPL Licence.

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