Despite the frailties and vulnerabilities of Windows, it still dominates the PC (Personal Computer) market. Windows 7 alone accounts for close to 49% of the desktop operating systems (OS) worldwide as of August 2017. In fact, I still use Windows 7 and have no plans to upgrade. Below are some useful Windows tools I personally use.
UltraDefrag is a free defragmentation tool. Two things I like about it is, it is very fast, and you can continue using your PC while it runs in the background. It works efficiently, and computer speed dramatically improves.
Sometimes there’s just a situation where we have to run Windows 7 or 8 on a USB. Luckily, there’s the WinToUSB program. It allows you to install and run the Windows operating system on a USB hard drive or flash drive, using an ISO image or CD/DVD drive as the source of installation. To do so, you’ll need the Windows image file. The free version is good enough for basic personal needs.
AnyDesk and TeamViewer are two of the best remote desktop programs. Both are free for personal use, but AnyDesk is the faster one. AeroAdmin is portable, no installer needed, free for personal and business use. If the client is using the Google Chrome browser, they have Chrome Remote Desktop.
Office applications are always a big help, may it be in writing a document or preparing a presentation. But let’s admit it, this software is expensive, and if there’s a free but good-quality offering, I would choose the free one every time. I’ve scoured the web looking for exactly that, and I didn’t come up empty-handed. Check out my list of free office productivity suites.
LibreOffice is composed of several apps that enable you to do pretty much anything. It has Writer for word processing, Calc for spreadsheets, Impress for presentations, Draw for diagrams and vector graphics, Math for mathematical formulae, Base for databases and Charts. LibreOffice is actually a fork of the OpenOffice.Org project. However, it is frequently updated. It has installers for Windows, OS X, and Linux platforms and has good compatibility with Microsoft(MS) Office.
If not for LibreOffice’s frequent updates, it would look like Apache’s OpenOffice, haha. In fact, they have almost the same apps, except Charts and interface.
SoftMaker FreeOffice is another alternative, but it is limited to TextMaker for word processing, PlanMaker for spreadsheets, and Presentations only. It supports Windows, Linux, and the Android OS!
Google Docs is an online app offering Docs, Sheets and Slides. One advantage of working online is it enables easy collaboration between team members. It is surprisingly compatible with MS Office.
So you would want to use a commercial version? I think not.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could install all your favorite desktop software in one go? I haven’t really thought about it since my hard drive gave up on me once. But the second time it happened, I searched for a multiple software installer, haha.
And I came across Ninite, and they happen to offer just what I’m looking for. The software is a real time-saver as you don’t have to install and set-up each program; it takes care of the installation for you. It supports most of the popular programs for basic computing needs. It downloads the latest versions from official sites, so it is safe to use. Just select the programs and it will package everything into one giant installer. The good thing is, once it is packaged, you can re-use it again if the need arises.
For the technology savvy, Npackd maybe a good fit. It is not exactly a mass installer in the strict sense. It is a command-driven software installer, manager and uninstaller. Using sets of commands via cmd.exe, you can search through over 900 free for personal use packages in the default repository. The packages are safe, they do not install any unwanted programs, adware or toolbars. It is also automatically updated and you can use it to uninstall programs. The process is being executed silently in the background, with no user action required. Novice users need not despair, they also have a Graphical User Interface(GUI) version downloadable here.
If you’re a hardcore programmer, Just-Install is a command-driven installer from the very start. You download it via cmd.exe. They also have a custom installer.
After installing all those programs, I’m pretty sure you’ll have second thoughts on some of them. If that’s the case, no worries. As there are batch installers, there are also mass uninstallers.
My favorite is Absolute Uninstaller. As the name suggests, it completely removes any traces of the uninstalled program. Unlike others, it auto-fixes invalid program entries, so there’s no need to use separate software to clean up the registry.
Do you require more privacy? If yes, then go deep down, up to the OS level. Tails is a live operating system that can run from a DVD, USB, or SD card. It preserves your privacy and anonymity by using the Tor network when you browse the internet and by using state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails, and instant messages.
Have an old PC or a used cellphone? Need security at home? AtHome Camera is a software that makes these unused tech gadgets useful again by turning them into surveillance cameras that you can control remotely using a smartphone. It has other features such as pre-scheduled video recording, motion detection, push and email alert notification, video clip deletion, and secure connection, and it is free!
I was assigned the task of integrating ads from various ad platforms into one of the websites I’m managing. Some of these ads have geographic restrictions. For example, these ads will show up only if the website visitor is from the US. Since I’m from the Philippines, I can’t check if the ads were properly added or not.
This is one of the many situations where a VPN comes in handy. It stands for Virtual Private Network, and it is a method of securing both private and public networks like the Internet. Once used only by corporations, personal VPNs are now offered by a lot of providers.
One important feature of a VPN is the ability to hide a user’s IP and location. Together with encryption, these allow you to avoid censorship and surveillance. In superhero lingo, a VPN gives you the power to teleport and pass through walls.
VPN Gate is an academic experiment project by the University of Tsukuba in Japan. The project’s site has a list of public VPN relay servers provided by volunteers around the world that you can connect to. The service is free, and there’s no need to register. For the technically inclined, there’s FreeLAN, a powerful command-driven tool.
WindScribe offers a free service limited to one device, eight location options, and 10 GB of bandwidth per month. Hoxx VPN is another option. BetterNet is completely free, but requires you to watch a video before connecting.
I love open source software. Most types of software are free, like the Linux operating system. There are lots of Linux flavors around, but I highly recommend Ubuntu. Compared to others, it is easy to install, and the user interface is user-friendly. Unlike in its early days, much of the popular Windows software has been successfully ported to Linux, so you’ll be more likely to “feel at home” if you decide to switch. You can use Rufus to create a USB bootable Linux installer. Another option is the Balena Etcher.
Here’s a simple instruction on how to do a full Ubuntu install on a USB. You can then use it like it’s installed on a hard drive. Nifty isn’t it?
If you’re not a fan, LifeWire has listed the top Linux distros of all time, so you can choose the ones you prefer.
Affiliate Disclosure: Post may contain links to affiliate websites, and we may receive a commission for any purchases or actions made by you on the websites using such links. Thank You.