6 Windows Utilities And Programs I Can’t Live Without

When I install a new Windows operating system on a computer there are several steps I take in a particular order. One of the things I do, after paying attention to all the necessary drivers and such, is install all those utilities and applications that I can’t seem to live without. These aren’t needs so much as wants. Yes, contrary to popular belief, even geeks have desires.

Here’s a short list of my top choices to make Windows life easier… in no particular order:

Firefox Web Browser


People seem to like Internet Explorer 8 of late. That’s fine. People also seem to really stick with their browser choice through thick and thin. That is, they won’t turn an eye towards an alternative even if the statistics show otherwise. That’s fine, too.

I might be one of those people since there is nothing at the moment that could sway me from using Firefox as my main browser. There are certain add-ons that I can’t seem to do without, either– and I can’t find them for other browsers that work in the way I like, so there ya go… Firefox it is.

Here’s the Firefox Homepage Link



All of the computer users in the world will at some point find themselves in the position of having to open an archived file. 7Zip is my archiver of choice mainly because of its flexibility, speed and the diversity of archives it can manage. Hands down, in my opinion, it is the most robust archiving program extant.

Here’s the link to the Official 7Zip Site.

MalwareBytes AntiMalware (MBAM)


All of us need an extra layer of protection in this security-minded environment we call the Internet. MBAM fits the bill as an option to run manual scans for security issues your Anti-Virus (AV) program may have missed. MBAM also has the reputation of being able to remove many types of malware when other applications fail– even commercial AV programs aren’t always so successful.

MBAM is available as both a free and a paid-for version. The “Pro” version can run in the background at the same time as your installed AV program which is an unusual case.

Here’s the link to the Official MalwareBytes Site.



All of us these days need all the security we can lay our hands on. A viable password manager is one of those tools. LastPass is my password manager of choice. I won’t go into it all here but there are many reasons I believe in LastPass’s security measures. I like the LastPass plugin for the Firefox browser and that is how I use it. Slicker than snail slime on a downhill slope.

Here is the link to the Official LastPass Site.

PDF-XChange Viewer

pdf-xchange- viewer-logo

PDF files are ubiquitous on the Internet realm. Many things you’d like to read online use the PDF format.

Of course, the scientist and ultimate Adobe Co-Chairman, Dr. John E. Warnock, inventor of the PDF format represents the same persona that would like you to use their PDF reader. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is what I’m referring to and am also admonishing you not to use.

The reason I dislike Acrobat Reader so much is that once it is installed it is the absolute dickens to get rid of. That is, if you can truly get rid of it at all short a complete, clean re-install of your Windows system. We all know what a pain that is.

PDF-XChange Viewer is a free, portable PDF reader that surpasses the Adobe version by leaps and bounds. The real beauty is that, if you decide you don’t like it for any reason, you can simply delete the directory where you installed it and it’s gone. Really!

Here’s the link to PDF-XChange Viewer at MajorGeeks.



I don’t normally recommend system “cleaners”. Most “cleaners” on the Internet will muck up your system, especially when used by the uninitiated. Another very real downside is that many sites that offer these so-called miracle workers are doing nothing short of pushing malware upon the ignorant, inattentive and gullible masses. CCleaner is an exception.

CCleaner is generally safe to use and does a great job of eliminating unnecessary cruft from your system’s hard drives and registry.

Note: Always make backups before running one of these types of programs. They are powerful and can really mess things up if you don’t pay attention.

If you must use a system cleaner, then CCleaner is the one I recommend.

Here is the link to the Official CCleaner Piriform Site.

Final Words

None of the above-mentioned utilities/programs are needed to run a Windows system.

They are simply nice to have around,


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About the Author

Richard Pedersen

Richard received his first computer, a C-64, in 1982 as a gift and began dabbling in BASIC. He was hooked! His love for computing has led him from the old “XT” boxes to the more modern fare and from clunky 10MB hard drives to smooth and fast modern day SSD drives. He has run BBS services, Fido mail, and even operated his own computer repair business.

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