Audio & Video Software
Acoustica Audio Converter Pro – Convert your MP3, WAV, OGG, WMA & CDA files with a right click! Includes an integrated CD ripper for easy CD ripping! Professionals will find this tool indispensable. Home hobbyists will find Audio Converter Pro a very handy addition to their arsenal of audio tools. A great little program I use frequently to change formats and bitrates of my digital music. Converts mp3, WAV, OGG, WMA to any other format. You choose the bitrates. It’s the best format converter I’ve used.
iWisoft Free Video Converter – Free and easy to use with a simple polished interface. Excellent range of output profile presets plus plenty of settings to tweak bit rate, frame rate, video size, sample rate, etc.
VLC Media Player – A great free video and audio player. Supports most video formats without needing to download additional codecs. Brilliant range of features. Portable available.
Backup & Recovery Software
Acronis True Image Home – Do you value the data on your computer? Do you value your time? How much time will you spend recovering data and returning your computer to its original state after a hardware failure or software glitch? Acronis True Image is my #1 pick for backup software! True Image consistently creates backups 10-20% smaller than its competitors and doesn’t require Microsoft’s .Net framework to run like Norton. True Image creates backups to internal drives, external drives, network drives, and directly to CD/DVD. If you value your data you need this program! Read my backup strategy here.
Macrium Reflect – Create, save and restore entire disk images for free with Macrium Reflect. Features include; Excellent compression. Mountable images. Save to Network, USB, firewire drives and DVD. Linux based Rescue CD with Network access and full GUI.
Aomei Backupper – Easy to use free image-based backup solution. Full system backups. Scheduling. Cloning. Create bootable media, including disc and USB, for disaster recovery. Highly recommended.
FBackup – A free yet very simple and effective file backup program. Backup important files and folders to local, external (USB) or network drives. Backup to ZIP compressed file or exact copy. Includes scheduler, file filters, verification, password protection and more.
CrashPlan – Free automated backup to multiple locations. Use the Crashplan software to automatically encrypt your files and backup to external media, other computers on your network, or the computers of friends miles away. There is also a paid service available, which allows you to backup to Crashplan’s servers that starts at $1.50 per month if you choose to use it.
iPhone Data Recovery – Now with Primo iPhone Data Recovery, it’s super easy to retrieve your lost or deleted photos and videos from Camera Roll, Photo Stream, and Photo Library – no matter you have backup or not, and no matter how you lose the pictures (system upgrade, jailbreak, accidental deletion, etc.). It lets you preview the photos in thumbnails and get back them with original quality. Here’s a link to a recent DCT article: Primo iPhone Data Recovery
CD & DVD Software
Ashampoo Burning Studio Free – A free full featured CD/DVD/Blu-Ray burning suite. Easy to use with intuitive interface. Includes direct (1:1) disc to disc copy.
DVD Flick – Great simple interface and very easy to use free software. Convert and burn video files to DVD. Supports a multitude of video and audio formats. Add a menu, add your own subtitles. A complete all-in-one solution.
DVD Shrink – The best DVD copy freeware. Not supported any more but still works a treat with unencrypted disks.
ImgBurn – Highly developed advanced free burning software. Great range of features and options. More suited to advanced users.
Fences – A nice free program that makes organizing your desktop a breeze. You create and name zones called “fences” and can move folders, icons, shortcuts, and programs into the zone. A great way to keep like articles together.
LogonStudio – A great free program to change the screen where you enter your password as you logon to Windows. There are literally hundreds of free skins that you can download. A great way to personalize your computer!
Internet & Email Software
Firefox – Is truly a great browser. Firefox is more secure by design, allowing you to surf the web without worrying about drive by downloads, spyware, and other nasties. The language of the internet is “html” and pages, such as this one, displayed in your browser are written in html. Firefox adheres to the html standard. This means that web pages display as they should be, not how Microsoft wants them to be. Firefox is also much more customizable than other browsers. There are literally thousands of extensions you can add to Firefox for free. There are extensions to do just about anything you can imagine!
Google Chrome -Very fast browser with a simple uncomplicated interface, now with extensions available too. Rapidly gaining popularity.
KeePass – Store passwords securely with this free program. Works great for websites! Saves a lot of time entering passwords, usernames, and sign-ins.
MailWasher – Excellent email/spam manager. Preview and/or delete emails on the server. Includes white list and blacklist, visual and audio notifications, automatic deletion. Never download unwanted emails to your computer again.
Sandboxie – Free software which creates a virtual environment (sandbox) for safe surfing. When you delete the contents of the sandbox everything, including any malware, is erased. Everybody should have Sandboxie installed!
Thunderbird – A completely free full-featured email program from the authors of Firefox. Very popular and fully customizable with add-ins.
WOT (Web Of Trust) – Excellent free site advisory service integrates with your browser to provide safety ratings for search results and individual sites. A must have!!
Roboform – This program is the next best thing since sliced bread! This program integrates into Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox. It generates very secure passwords at the click of a button. How do I remember these complex passwords? Roboform allows you to save passwords and personal data in an encrypted format. A master password (yes only one password to remember!) allows access. Roboform in IE and Firefox works like a super powered bookmark. You click the site you want to go to and Roboform opens the site, enters your username and password for the site (if required) and – as if by magic – clicks the submit button and logs you in. If you shop online Roboform can enter your personal information and credit card information, which is also stored in a secure encrypted file, in one click. A real time saver with great security thrown in to boot! Free version is limited to 10 logins.
Crucial Memory – The leading source of quality RAM memory. Great selection, good prices, excellent support, and a lifetime warranty! A real winner!
HP Computers – HP is currently my pick for both laptop and desktop computers. Great prices and performance. The design of their current laptop line is simply beautiful!
Newegg – My current pick for DIY computers and computer components such as hard drives, motherboards, cpu’s, sound cards, and video cards! Newegg has the best customer service and their prices can’t be beat! Great Products! Great Prices! Great Customer Service! A Trifecta for geeks.
PC Maintenance & Utility Software
Auslogics Disk Defrag – Easy to use, free, and fast. Features optimization, consolidation of free space, automatic defrag and scheduler. Portable version available.
Aomei Partition Manager Standard – Excellent comprehensive partition manager. Free for both home and commercial use.
EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition – Another excellent free and comprehensive hard disk partition manager; Resize, move, create/delete, hide/unhide, format, copy, merge, wipe, convert.
PrivaZer – Excellent free cleaning and privacy tool. Deep cleans many areas. Securely erases all traces for enhanced privacy. Best in its class. Portable version available.
CCleaner – Very popular free privacy and cleaning tool. Removes temporary files, internet traces, and includes basic registry cleaner. Very safe and easy to use.
Recuva – Recuva is free software which helps recover accidentally deleted files from hard drive, camera card, MP3 Player or flash drive.
Revo Uninstaller – A free uninstaller that goes above and beyond the uninstaller built into Windows. Will search for and delete leftover files and registry items. Includes a couple of handy tools and has a portable version too. *Free edition does not include support for 64-bit applications.
Geek Uninstaller – Terrific free portable uninstaller. Fast scan and removal of leftovers. ‘Force Removal’ mode for broken or stubborn programs. Full support for both 32-bit and 64-bit applications.
HWiNFO – Free portable system information and diagnostics utility. Displays information relating to the system’s hardware. Real time monitoring, including core temps. Available in 32-bit and native 64-bit portable editions.
MooO System Monitor – The most comprehensive free system monitoring tool with more than 70 fields to choose from. Extensive, portable, and highly customizable.
TeamViewer – is remote control software that connects to any PC or server around the world within a few seconds. You can remote control your partner’s PC as if you were sitting right in front of it. This is a great tool to troubleshoot and fix computers without having the computer in front of you!
WinPatrol – A versatile startup manager with a free version. Disable startup processes and prevent software from adding itself without your knowledge/permission.
WinRar – Is my pick for compressing files. WinRar offers better compression rates and faster operation than its competition. WinRar also comes with a lifetime license. WinRar supports more zip formats than WinZip and is full featured without requiring add-ins to function. Great for emailing large files and securely archiving your data. Give it a try.
PeaZip – Free Zip files utility – Open RAR TAR 7Z ZIP ZIPX files, 150+ formats supported
Supported systems: Windows 9x, Windows NT/2K/XP, Windows Vista/7/8/8.1 (32 and 64 bit), ReactOS, Wine
7Zip – You can use 7-Zip on any computer, including a computer in a commercial organization. You don’t need to register or pay for 7-Zip. Supported formats: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP and WIM.
Bandizip – Easy to use archiver, simple extraction. Supports all popular formats. Supports 30 formats for extraction, including RAR, ISO, and IMG. Portable version available!
Photo & Image Software
FastStone Image Viewer – Excellent free image browser, editor and converter that supports all major graphic formats. Nice array of features such as image comparison, red-eye removal, emailing, resizing, cropping, color adjustments and musical slideshow.
IrfanView – Popular free image viewer, editor, optimizer. Heaps of features. One the the very best.
Paint.Net – A free well designed image editor with an attractive interface. A medium level editor with lots of options and tools comparable to commercial software.
AllMyNotes Organizer – A free combination sticky notes/personal information manager. Centrally store and organize all your: recipes, to do lists, shopping lists, correspondence, diary entries, blog articles, anything and everything. Very easy to use and includes a nice notes editor. All notes are searchable and can be password protected. A portable version is available.
LibreOffice – Has supplanted Open Office as the leading open source office suite. Full featured free suite for creating; text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, diagrams, and databases. Fully compatible with Microsoft Office formats.
Money Manager Ex – Easy to use free personal finance manager. Available in installable or portable versions. Includes all the basic features most users would want in a personal finance application yet manages to retain simplicity and ease of use.
PDF-XChange Viewer – Lightweight PDF reader which provides additional features over and above your ‘average’ PDF reader. Portable version available.
Sumatra PDF – Lightweight and portable. An excellent choice for basic PDF viewing. Rendering quality is good but not on par with PDF-XChange.
WordWeb – Terrific dictionary/thesaurus that is free. Simply select a word in any document and you’ll immediately get a popup with the word’s meaning and synonyms.
Avira Free Antivirus – Top notch protection for free. Used to suffer from persistent nag screen and additional toolbar but that’s all changed now with a clean install and only occasional popup. Highly recommended.
Avast Free Antivirus – Excellent free protection via an extensive array of protective shields plus anti-spyware component.
Eset Smart Security – Truly the absolute best antivirus program available today. Included in this security suite is antivirus, antispyware, antispam, and a personal firewall. It has the highest detection rates, fastest scan rates, doesn’t slow your computer down, and uses very little memory. It is simply better, faster, cheaper without dragging down your system like Norton! Eset Smart Security consistently receives a 100% rating from Virus Bulletin and top scores at AV-Comparatives.org. I won’t have a computer without it!
Online Armor Firewall – This two way firewall keeps the bad guys out and your personal information secure. This program has the best user interface of any firewall I’ve used and has informative dialog boxes. Online Armor Firewall makes your computer invisible on the net! Online Armor is truly the Best of the Best firewalls available today, and you can’t beat the price!
Panda Free Antivirus – Consistently excellent detection rates, also lightweight and unobtrusive. Just beware of the bundled extras when installing.
Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) – Secunia PSI is a small application which scans the host computer for outdated and possibly vulnerable software. PSI compares versions installed on your computer to a comprehensive list of latest versions contained in its huge data base. At scans end a list of outdated/insecure applications is generated, including links to the latest versions and or updates. Secunia PSI is a must have for anyone serious about keeping their 3rd party (non-Microsoft) applications up to date and maintaining a secure computing environment.
Sophos Home – Sophos is new to the home market, but it a well known player in the business AV market. Sophos Home is lightweight, unobtrusive, and effective, and uses the same commercial grade engine as Sophos’ Endpoint business class software.