Our Top 5 Programs – Part 1

windows-softwareThis isn’t your average Top 5 programs list, but a list of each of the DCT writer’s Top 5 most important programs. That’s right, XX favorite programs for the price of 5 – because some of us couldn’t limit ourselves to 5! Below you’ll find the 5, or so, programs each author feels are their most important, or the programs they feel are important enough to install first on any new PC.” ~ Dave

jason-shuffieldWhat I Use – Jason Shuffield

I was asked by DCT to share what software I thought was important when installing a new operating system. Love getting questions like this because I think it is important to share the knowledge of our DCT team. Every tech will have his or her own views on what is most important, but here is what I think is key.

When installing any new operating system there should be five key types of software that you should install.

AVG-Logo1Let’s start with Virus Protection software. You should always have this installed on your computer and have it set to auto-scan your system plus auto-update. With many of my clients, they seem to forget to scan computers or update their software which can cause many problems in the future. The one that I favor most is the 2016 AVG virus protection. Great software.

Malwarebytes-Logo1Next, another software that you should have is an Anti-Malware scanner and, of course, the one that you should have is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Yes, this still is the number one pick in my book.

CCleaner-Logo1Third is CCleaner because this little tool can be helpful in keeping your system running smoothly. In combination with your virus protection and Malwarebytes, this software can keep the Dr. (Tech) away. I have been using this software for many years and never had an issue with it.

Google_chrome_logo2Now we need a good browser that you can depend on. I know that many of you will disagree, but overall, this browser is still number one to me. That is Google Chrome, and is still my favorite. I find that search is much easier to use than other browsers, plus it has some fun logo designs during the holidays.

Microsoft-365-Logo1Last, but not least, on my list would be some sort of Office program. You didn’t see that coming did you? I have found that many clients of mine do not think they would ever need this, but you would be surprised how much you need Word or Excel in many everyday activities. My number one software would be Microsoft 365. There are many free versions out there, but I feel you get what you pay for, and ‘free’ will only get you so much.

Now you know what key software I would use when setting up a new OS.

karen-homanWhat I Use – Karen Homan

This post is great timing for me since I just got upgraded to a new PC at work a couple weeks ago. Of course, I had to give a list of what I wanted installed to our tech guys and then I added a few miscellaneous items. That list is larger than 5 items, but I’ll narrow it down. (PS, I always use MS Office, especially Word, Excel, and Publisher and I’ll give a shout out to Adobe Photoshop.)

snagit-logoSnagit – I use this screen capturing application religiously for my job. It’s fast, neat, and makes my How-To’s look professional. It is truly a Godsend.


camtasia-logoCamtasia – This video editing program isn’t very user friendly, but it beats everything else out there that I tried to use to make video tutorials. Editing your videos takes some practice, but the finished product really does look great.

lastpass-logoLastPass – I finally took the plunge with using this online password manager and I have to admit, it makes life easier. After all, everything online needs a password and username these days and using my standalone password database wasn’t cutting it. That said, using the cloud for anything still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

outlook-logoOutlook – My organization doesn’t even support MS Outlook but I refuse to use Google whatever for managing my calendar, ToDos, Notes and Contacts. I actually use Outlook AND Gmail for my mail (we just moved to Gmail at work), but it’s the non-mail stuff that makes me GaGa for Outlook. Plus, with a third party app, I can sync all that stuff to my phone and that was imperative to me. Outlook is a supercharged life maintenance system for me and I use it every day. I also like that everything is in one place. (I do not and will not use, which is the online version. Talk to the HAND, CLOUD!)

pocket-logoPocket – Pocket is my new find-it/save-for-later tool for web information. I used to use Evernote, but found that Pocket works faster, doesn’t take a lot of fussing, and also has the most interesting recommended reads ever!



BONUS ADD – I always, and I mean always, add WordBiz to my computers. It’s the best link to an online Scrabble app ever and that’s often where you’ll find me on a break or during lunch.

terry-hollettWhat I Use – Terry Hollett



Before I install anything else I like to get my browsers installed.

opera-logoI used Mozilla Suite for a long time (now called SeaMonkey) before switching over to Opera. At the time, Opera was one of the most customizable browsers available without extensions. The modern versions, not so much. But it’s still my first choice browser for now. I still use SeaMonkey as my eMail program.






AVG was my number one choice of anti-virus programs but I always had update issues and when I first got Windows XP, it kept crashing on me. After trying out a few other programs I eventually stuck with Avira. I had a few issues with it over the years but it’s always been light on the computer resources.



Another program that gets top priority with me is WinPatrol. It is similar to the User Account Control (UAC) in Windows. I started using it with Windows ME and have been using it ever since. It has saved me from an infection a few times when my anti-virus has remained silent.



I use the Windows built-in backup system (Windows 7) and I also use Macrium Reflect. I make a system image about once a month using both programs.

Macrium Reflect




Two of my favorite programs for dealing with pictures are PhotoFiltre, for basic editing, and XnView, for a picture viewer.




I miss the Windows XP search over the current Windows 7 one and I found a program that is very close to what search used to be. It’s called Everything Search Engine.

Everything Search Engine

There are a lot more programs that I always put on my systems and I’ll probably write up a more complete list for my next article.

sherri-meinkeWhat I Use – Sherri Meinke

So I have this brand new operating system installed, but things still need some tweaking for my satisfaction. I have to take on the task of getting all the bells and whistles software-wise that are needed to make things work seamlessly for me. What is an absolute must when it comes to software? There is no hemming and hawing here. I don’t even have to think about it, as I am a girl that knows what I like and want.


Web Browser

The #1 Priority is none other than Google Chrome Web Browser. I am a Google Chrome fan and that generally does not come preloaded on a system, so this is a must have for me before anything else. I utilize Google Chrome to do all my internet searching, control apps, and extensions as well as get to my email. I have tried other browsers and they were clunky, slow and just didn’t do it for me. I like being able to customize my browser with themes and there are many available. Incognito Mode is a feature that is pretty nifty and I use it often. Get your copy at:

lastpassPassword Manager

Being a self-employed IT Tech, I have to have certain tools at my disposal to be successful. I have used Last Pass Password Manager for years. It is utilized to manage the multitude of passwords I have to know in managing others websites as well as controlling my own sites. It sure beats writing everything down in a little spiral notebook and misplacing it. With LastPass, I can access my credentials from anywhere as well as set certain sites to auto login for me. I checked out other password managers and am content with what this one does for me. Get it here at

temviewerRemote Desktop Connection Manager

TeamViewer is my tool of choice for providing remote access. It is not complicated to use, and it has allowed me to help family and friends when they run into a bind without having to hop into my vehicle and go on-site. It is easy to download and seamless to use. Both computers have to have an internet connection and the software installed to work. If you’re a home user you can download and install the software for FREE. Check it out at:



I cannot say enough about Skype. When my son was in Afghanistan I was able to keep in touch with him via Skype and actually see him. It has also been a great tool to allow me to communicate with others and share in life events when I can’t be there in person. I connect with other Skype users anywhere in the world and can talk to them for Free! Thru Skype I have been able to interact with other members of the DCT Team and it makes us feel more connected thru our Skype sessions rather than just using emails. To download go to

A big “Thank You” goes out to our writers for taking the time to contribute to this post.


Part 2 of this article will be appearing in the near future. Stay tuned to find out what your favorite writers find indispensable when setting up their computer systems.

18 thoughts on “Our Top 5 Programs – Part 1”

  1. My top programs or CCleaner,Firefox,VMware,SuperAntiSpyware,Thunderbird,Panda Free Virus and Skype. Always interesting to see what the writers at DCT are using!!!

  2. I really like that Everything Search Engine that Terry shared. Makes me wonder how I could ever find anything.

    1. Richard Pedersen

      Hi Daniel,

      Isn’t that great? I’ve been using it for a few years now and couldn’t live without it.

      I was going to try one called UltraSearch to see how it compares.

    2. I’ve been using it for several years now. It is great file name search tool. I still prefer it to the Win 10 search. Just make sure the get the current version as older versions cause problems in Win 10.

      Making Everything even more useful, I use an addin called “PlainOldFavorites” in FireFox. This addin allows you to save “Internet Explorer” type “Favorites”. They work with Everything since they are saved individual Windows Shortcut files instead of entries in the FF bookmark database.

      I’ve got over 15K shortcuts plus thousands of document files that I search dozens of times daily.

      CCleaner , FSCapture (screen capture), Irfan (image viewing and simple editing) and Q-Dir for a multipane File Explorer replacement. The new MS Snip is also a good screen capture tool.

  3. Everyone has their favorites based on their experiences over the years. I have tried most of what is mentioned in the article but have settled on the following;

    After try most of the popular offerings I have settled on Microsoft Security Essentials. It serves me well as I avoid most trouble areas on the net.

    Yes, I use multiple browsers for different things. I normally have Chrome, Firefox, and Opera open at the same time. Each supports a different email address or two.

    I use Thunderbird for my main account and use browsers for my online accounts.

    I am a BIG fan of Google Calendars.

    Screen Grabbers
    I find Greenshot very useful but recommend Microsoft Snipping Tool to those I help who are not computer savvy (most of those I support).

    I was brought up on Photoshop during my working years and found Lightroom for my photography. I do still use IrfanView frequently for simple jobs.

    KeePass is my password program of choice. Has less restrictions than what I found in LastPass

    Other Important Utilities
    CCleaner, VLC, & Bulk Rename,

    1. Richard Pedersen

      Thanks TomL, for sharing with us.

      I’ve never seen GreenShot, before. Will have to check it out.

    1. Richard Pedersen

      Hi THE Book Man,

      I use CLCL, myself. But just because it didn’t make it on this list doesn’t necessarily mean one of us doesn’t use it.

      Thanks for the tip!

  4. I use DITTO. It is OK and does a good job. If you have a good memory for short-cuts (I have so many shortcuts to remember my old head wants to explode. 🙂 ) it would be even better.

  5. David Hutchins

    Great choices, but not he doesn’t go far enough. How about Irfanview for pictures viewing and simple editing? And my favorite media player MPC-HC. For video a lot of people chose VLC, but I find MPC-HC faster and just as capable and rarely refuses to play something as does VLC sometimes. Another person mentioned Superantispyware. And how about Adobe Reader. Just about everyone shares files with PDF format.

    1. Richard Pedersen

      Hi David,

      All great choices with one exception– Acrobat Reader is, in my opinion, one of the worst choices a person could make. A much better solution would PDF-XChange Viewer, or FoxIt Reader. I like the former better.

      I dislike Acrobat because of the way it intrudes on the system. Once installed, I challenge you to ever successfully get rid of it.

      Just my thoughts and thank you for your comment,

      1. Tony Whitmarsh

        For me unchecky is a must have on any rebuild / new install. it prevents the installation of PUPs in 90 % of cases so is great if you are supporting a number of users. Until recently I would of said 100% but I have had a couple of instances where options to install additional software where left checked. However, it is still a very useful safety net.

  6. Thunderbird for email client is unbeatable, Been using Everything for years now until I tried “Wise Jet search” and it blew me away. Its almost too good to be true in speed. The best browser for speed you cant go past Cyberfox, and a distant second Opera. Skype has been awesome for many years right up until the last few months where every man and his dog are having drop outs.Using Yahoo Messenger (yes I know… with all that crap-ware) until Skype fixes its bandwidth problems. To keep my box clean and tidy I find “WiseCare 360” one of the best freebies around with heaps of extras free also. The only paid program I use is Norton Internet Security which has not let any gremlins into any of my 4 machines since they bought out Spyware Doctor that I used prior. $60 a year for peace of mind is cheap. And leaving the best till last… where would I be without my LastPass? Using it ever since Leo recommended it 10 years ago (was it really that long Leo?) and never looked back.

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