Due to undue and unfair pressure imposed upon me by one of our frequent commenters on DCT, I am forced to write this “What I Use” article. Mindblower is his name.
He mentioned that I seem to have a few software gems in my pocket and that it would be an interesting post to let people know which programs I use. I will show you what my computer is made up of, which programs I use on a daily basis, and why it ended up the way it did.
I have built many computers over the course of my lifetime and the one I’m using now is an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer (me)). Here are the current specs:
- Motherboard – ASRock 990FX Killer P1.60 UEFI BIOS
- CPU – AMD FX-8350 8-core Vishera AM3+ running at 4000MHz
- GPU – RX580 8GB VRAM by PowerColor
- RAM – 32GB DDR3 1600MHz
- SAMSUNG SSD 830 Series (SSD) 240 GB used for the OS and Programs
- Hitachi HDS5C3030ALA630 3TB (spinner); this is divided into five partitions each allocated for specific purposes
- ADATA SP550 (SSD) 240GB used solely for games
- INTEL SSDSA2M080G2GC (SSD) 80GB used for cache purposes (Level 2 PrimoCache)
- External 1TB backup drive
- OneDrive – used as an off-site backup for various files to the “Cloud”
- Keyboard – CMStorm Quickfire Pro Cherry MX (brown)
- Mouse – Logitech MX 500 Series
- Web Cam – Logitech
- Monitors – 3x Hanns-G 23″ 1080p
The above specifications are more than enough to run everything I do without breaking a sweat– it doesn’t even snort. I don’t play intense first-person shooters. I tend more towards cerebral turn-based 4x games like Galactic Civilizations III and Sid Meieir’s Civilization, unlike our more intense friend Marc Thomas, who seems to love the fast reaction times needed to play his preferred genres– racing and shoot-em-ups.
Software is what makes Windows a proper workplace. Obviously, I don’t have the same needs as the casual user. I write and edit so I need software that is specialized towards those goals. The programs I use are not demanding on a computer system but I like to play some games, too, so I need a little “snap” to make that happen.
Here is a short-list of the software I use (in no particular order):
- Clipboard Manager – ArsClip because it’s free and it provides the added benefit of storing often-typed text which can be accessed with the use of a Keyboard Shortcut
- Password Manager – LastPass because it’s free and even LastPass doesn’t have access to my passwords
- Backup Software – Acronis True Image because it provides trusted backups on a schedule
- Browser – Waterfox (64-bit) because it’s free I can use legacy add-ons no longer allowed in the newer versions of Firefox (and the ever-present Bookmarks sidebar which is not available in any other major browser no matter how many “tickets” are written)
- Office Application – LibreOffice because it’s free and provides all the features I need in this type of software
- File Manager – Explorer++ because it’s free and it remembers previous settings, allows for tabs, allows setting programmable buttons, allows setting programmable directories, and the list goes on and on (File Explorer is, and has always been, a piece of junk, IMHO)
- Antivirus – Windows Defender because it’s free and it works. It might not be at the top of the list where AV software is considered, but it is good enough and updated each and every day. It also includes a software firewall.
- AntiMalware – MalwareBytes AntiMalware (MBAM) because it’s free and I can run manual scans of the system or individual files as I choose
- Heimdal Security – An added layer of protection
- Acronis Active Protection – Helps to protect the file system
- SyncBack Free – because it’s free and I use this to make copies of various folders to an external drive on a weekly basis. This is by no means a backup, but yet another copy of something
- OneDrive – because it’s free and I use this to make weekly backups of various files to the “Cloud” for offsite protection. “You can never have enough backups.” — this is a paraphrased quote from our eponymous “Dave”)
- Virtual Machine – VirtualBox because it’s free and it works great when I have to test out a new piece of software with none of the potentially dire consequences
- SnagIt 13 – I use this for all the screen shots you see in our articles
- Portable Utilities – DNSBench (checks current DNS speeds), DNS Jumper (an easy way to change the current DNS settings), Rufus (to make bootable USB drives), and a few others
I have provided links to all the above-mentioned programs in case you are interested in trying them out for yourself. Most are free, some are not. All I can say is that I’m happy with them all at the moment. Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed a recurring theme in that I like “Free”. It’s an on-going tendency which I don’t expect to change any time soon.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way, shape, or form with the aforementioned products, so purchasing one of them will not get me (or DCT) one slim dime of recompense. If you would like to help, however, please consider donating a dollar or two via the PayPal link provided in the side panel. (Another dollar or two for the developers wouldn’t hurt, either.) You can’t imagine how beneficial it can be to those who contribute their time and effort. Every bit helps and Google advertising certainly doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.
People are using Ad Blockers everywhere these days– even on sites they like and find useful. And then they wonder why “Paywalls” are becoming more prevalent. Think about it…
I live in a rural area in northwestern Wisconsin. This is not an ideal location if you want top-notch internet connectivity. In fact, I get a 10Mbps connection on good days and a 25Mbps connection is the best we are offered at the moment. Of course, we would have to pay quite a bit more for that privilege. All I can say is, Netflix works just fine at the moment, thank you very much.
The main reason I use the software I do is that it simply happened over the course of time…. a lot of time. I’m on the wrong side of sixty and many years have passed since I first became addicted to computers. As the years gave way I learned a lot about what I needed in terms of programs and what was available, and so, the software adjusted itself. The above examples merely mirror the requirements met as things progressed.
Dave (yes, our “Dave”) rang me up one late night several years ago and asked me if I’d be interested in writing an article for DCT. I said, “Yes”, and the rest is history. I am thankful for that late-night phone call to this day. It has been a pleasant ride. I can only hope that I am doing a good job of it and wish nothing but the best for Dave’s Computer Tips in the future.
In all fairness to Mindblower, he did not pressure me into writing this article. Thank you Mindblower, for Impetus.
I hope this list helps you in some way, dear readers. It was fun to put together and it gave me the freedom to express myself in a not-so-limited fashion by allowing me to deviate from my normal “how-to” doldrums.