Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Favorite Windows (XP) Programs and Why

[I've moved to Linux, but I wrote alot of this post out a while ago and I don't want it to go to waste. Keep in mind that alot of this was written while I was on XP and some of these don't really mesh well with 7]

When I started FreewareWire, I made sure to stress that I really don't like picking the "best" of freeware, because there is rarely one freeware that's perfect for everyone in every situation. But that doesn't mean I can't have favorites. What's important is that you have favorites for reasons, and if in the future those reasons ever change or become nulled, then you can find new favorites. Anyway, here we go.




► = Categories I desperately need to investigate
◘ = Categories I want to look into further out of intrigue
☺ = My favorites; the ones that make me smile


Antispyware/Antivirus: None (SUPERAntispyware/Combofix 2nd)
Yeah, it's unwise, but I hate the fact that something is sitting there, using my resources to protect me from something that (a) I may never run into and (b) may slip right past my AV anyway. It's just dumb. I realize that that's probably not the best decision, but whatever. If I ever do need to try to fix something, SUPERAntiSpyware usually picks up on most of the spyware, and I can run it without it trying to take control of my system. I like AVG 7, but anything past that is a resource hog and sucks. Combofix is amazing when it comes to killing viruses.


◘App Launcher: Rocketdock (ControlPad 2nd?)
Rocketdock is really amazing, mostly because it's really stable and dependable. It looks good, can be customized greatly, and it can hide off screen until you need it, and be anywhere on the screen. On the other hand, I really haven't used it that much and I could probably replace it.
ControlPad is different because it uses your Numpad to launch apps. It's written in AHK (though it's closed source) and I really need to start using it more.

Audio Editor: Audacity☺
Hands down. I haven't used any others that I can remember, but Audacity does any basic audio editing that I want. I took an Audio Production course one semester and I didn't have time to try to go in and figure out how to do an assignment on ProTools, so I did it on Audacity in 15 minutes, and the teacher was none the wiser.

►Backup :Cobian (Backup4all 2nd)
I haven't used these in a while (ever since I discovered Dropbox), but Cobian was by far the most impressive that I can remember. The free version of Backup4all wasn't bad either, but I think Cobian was just the best.

Bittorrent: µTorrent(Deluge 2nd)
µTorrent is the first bittorrent program I've ever used, and I still love it. I've tried Azureus/Vuze, Transmission (ugh...), and I believe BitTornado, but uTorrent is just so simple that it works. It's small (the program IS an installer), fairly light on resources, and usually keeps to itself (i.e., it doesn't bug me, *coughiTunescough*). I don't really like the new versions, but it's still my favorite.
That being said, when I tried to switch to Linux on my netbook and found that I hated Transmission more than having my throat ripped out, I found Deluge, which is also available on Windoze, but is a little too.....GNOME-y for my tasts. But it's very similar to µTorrent so if I switch to Linux, I'll use that, and I might just switch to it sooner, if GTK ends out looking better. (Hey, I can pray for miracles...)

Blogging: Zoundry Raven

Zoundry is a really really nice blogging software. It's WYSIWYG, but still very powerful. I did run into some problems mostly with spacing, but it was still a pleasure to work with.

►Calculator: Searching...

►Clipboard: N/A
I've never been that interested in a clipboard manager, but then I've never really seen what they can do.

◘Compression: 7-zip☺
I was introduced to 7-zip by Jimmyr on Youtube, and I've used it ever since; it was my first non-WinZip program. I really haven't used that many others just because it works so well. I use 7z compression whenever I can (i.e., when I'm compressing files that aren't going to be handled by people who aren't tech savvy) and it's very light and never crashes. I've wanted to use it on Linux, but Linux seems to integrate compression better than Windows. (Please don't suggest to me that Windows Explorer is an adequate compression utility, because it's not.) That being said, I know there are good alternatives out there. I suppose I should try them, like IZArc, TUGZip, PeaZip and such.

◘Copy: Teracopy☺
I really haven't found that many others, but Teracopy is just amazing! It shows a list of the files to be copied, it copies way faster, it lets you pause/resume a copy, it doesn't stop the copy if it hangs on one file, Microsoft. It is just miles better than the default Windows copy. I haven't really tried any others, but I'm extremely content with Teracopy, so I don't see why I should.

Data Recovery: 1st NTFS Recovery (Recuva 2nd)

I really really want to put Recuva as my favorite, but when I lost alot of data a while ago, Recuva failed to detect it, and I had to go with a commercial application: 1st NTFS Recovery. I still love Recuva and use it from day to day if I think I may have accidentally deleted something important, but I don't necessarily trust it in critical situations.
Disc Burner/Image Creator: ImgBurn (CDBurnerXP 2nd)
I've used a decent amount of these. Most of them turned out to be shareware. But anyway, ImgBurn has a fair amount of features, doesn't crash much, and generally works well.
CDBurnerXP has a few more features when it comes to things like Audio CDs, but it seems more clunky than ImgBurn, so I only use CDBurnerXP when I have to.


Disk Space Analyzer: WinDirStat☺ (DriveSort 2nd, i.Disk 3rd)
WinDirStat is one of the apps that I don't think I could live without. It changed the way I manage my disk space. The lite programs like DriveSort or i.Disk aren't bad, but WinDirStat is just one of those programs that I actually enjoy using....which is impressive, since its purpose is to analyze your disc space.

◘Disc Emulation: DAEMONTools Lite
Every other software I've tried ends out crashing, has driver errors, or is too invasive. DAEMON's given me problems too, but for the most part, it works.

Duplicate File Finder: DoubleKiller & Awesome Duplicate Photo Finder (FindDuplicates & DupeGuru 2nd)
Finding duplicates is kind of a two man job: one for most of the files, and another for pictures. DoubleKiller is excellent at finding the files; it's fast, effective, and decently stable. When it comes to pictures, however, Awesome Duplicate Photo Finder has additional features that pertain specifically to pictures. FindDuplicates and DupeGuru also work pretty well, I just haven't used them as much.

Defragmentation: Auslogics Disk Defrag (MyDefrag & Defraggler 2nd)
I really have stopped caring about what defragger is best and just settled with Auslogics. But (formerly jkdefrag) MyDefrag has people lined up praising it, and Defraggler works ok, thought it doesn't do optimization. I really haven't chosen one to cling to, but then I don't defrag as much as I should anyway.

Download: *built in to web browser* (VisualWget 2nd)
I've never found the need for a download manager outside of my web browser. The Firefox/Chrome default works just fine. I like a few addons that make it more accesible, but none that actually change how it works.
But if I ever need special features, like resuming a download, I use wget, and VisualWget makes that easier.
(Side note: I feel like going out of the way to say this: I hate DownThemAll. First person to suggest that gets a keyboard broken over their head.)

DRM removing: QTFairUse
How about this, Apple: I will throw you my hard-earned money, and you will let me play my music files anywhere I goddamn please.

DVD ripper: Handbrake☺ (+ DVD43)
I bought the DVD, and I want to play it where I want. If that means having to rip it to my PC to get it to my iPhone, so be it.

◘E-Mail: None
I use Gmail and I never have understood the need for an offline client. A while ago, I was looking around for a client to use IMAP to just download the e-mails so if I ever lose internet, I'll still be able to use them, but I couldn't find one that I liked the interface of. (They were all too....office-y. Even Thunderbird.) I'm convinced that most people don't need applications specifically for e-mail, unless they're job requires it.

Encryption: TrueCrypt☺
Easy to use, secure, cross platform. Need I say more?

Handle Remover: Unlocker☺
I forget about this one alot (especially since I used bbLean instead of Explorer), but it's a lifesaver. 100% necessary if you absolutely have to delete/move/rename a file that's "in use".


Emulators:
N64 = Project64☺
GB/GBC/GBA = VisualBoyAdvance☺ (NO$GBA 2nd)
DS = NO$GBA
SNES = Snes9x (ZSNES 2nd)
NES = I can't remember...
PS1 = I can't remember...

Basically just the ones that I've found that (a) work and (b) have a user-friendly interface. And just preference too. If a system isn't listed, then I just haven't used it or haven't found one that can actually run games reliably.

►File Manager: Nomad.NET (Q-Dir 2nd)
I had a hard time using an alternative FM on XP because Explorer is so embedded in it, but Nomad.NET is definitely my favorite. It works well, has plenty of features, dual panes, tabs, and is very lite. Q-Dir is pretty good too, but it's more of a power tool, and I'm afraid I'm just not that advanced yet.

Finances: MoneyManagerEx
I really wish I could find an app with mobile sync (specifically Android), but MoneyManagerEx has a plethora of features and is very very stable. The main part where it shines is the reports, which is the most important part for me. The interface could use some work, but the functionality is awesome. (Also, it's cross platform, so I brought it over to Linux with me.)

◘Font Viewer: NexusFont
I haven't found the need for it, but I like how it looks. Plus, I think Win7 has one built in.

◘Hex Editor: None
I don't find the need for one enough...I have three intalled: Hex-ED, i.Hex, and XVI32.

Hotkey: Autohotkey☺ (2nd Skeys☺)
I don't use Hotkeys that much, but if I ever need to do it, I just write a quick script with Autohotkey.
And yeah, I'm lame for listing my own program, but I probably use Skeys more than any other person out there. And it's the only hotkey program I really use on a regular basis.

◘Icon Editor: GIMP (@icon sushi 2nd)
I am terrible at making icons, and if I ever need to, I use GIMP.
But icon sushi is nice for doing things like merging multiple icons into one.

Image Editor: GIMP☺
I haven't used anything else, but I shouldn't even have to explain why GIMP is amazing.

►Image Manager: Windows Live Photo Manager (Cheez 2nd, Picasa 3rd)
Ugh. I know, it's bad when Windows Live has a program that is my favorite. The problem is, I simply haven't found one that (a) has features I want, and (b) doesn't have features I don't want. So many of them are just overflowing with features that I don't want or need and it makes them unusable. There needs to be something between dirt simple and professional photographer.


Image Viewer: XnView (FastStone Viewer 2nd)
Yeah, I know, it's not IrfanView. But guess what: I hate IrfanView. It's annoying. Period.
But anyway, I found XnView a long time ago and have used it since. It's fast and shows images. And isn't ugly.
FastStone Viewer is really similar to XnView, but I can't remember why I chose Xn over FastStone.

Instant Messenger: Pidgin☺ (Miranda 2nd)
I've used a ton of others like Nimbuzz, Digsby, Ayttm, Instantbird, and even Empathy, but Pidgin just works better. Period. But I don't use IM much anymore.
Miranda is not bad, since it's lighter than Pidgin, but it's only on Windows and it's kinda...well, ugly. But I can use it interchangeably.

iPhone Filesystem Browser: iFunBox (iSpirit 2nd)

I haven't used many of these extensively, but iFunBox works fairly well and only crashes occasionally. I think iSpirit had some sweet features, but I can't remember clearly. I don't care anyway....I run Android now.

Junk Cleaner: CCleaner☺ (EasyCleaner 2nd)
I love Piriform. CCleaner is why. It's straightforward, gets everything, and just works. It is by far one of my favorite apps of all time.

EasyCleaner works well too, it's just a little more....un-userfriendly.

Keyfinder: Magical Jellybean Keyfinder (Speccy 2nd)
The Magical Jellybean is a lifesaver. I think Speccy finds some too, but the Jellybean is one that I simply must have on a thumb drive.

◘Media Converter: MediaCoder (SUPER 2nd)
Pretty much converts everything I need. I don't convert as much as I used to.
SUPER is ok, except that it's more of a powertoy. It 'converts' between everything even if it doesn't make logical sense. You have to really, really know what you're doing to make it work.


Media Player: Media Player Classic Homecinema☺ (VLC 2nd)
The two are very similar but I like MPC's interface a little better. VLC is getting better and better and I'd like to switch to it eventually, but until, I use a mixture.

Media Info: GSpot
I love how the info is laid out and how many different types of files it handles. Simple a must have.

Music Library: MusicBee☺ (Songbird 2nd, Winamp & foobar2000 & MediaMonkey 3rd)
Alot of these are really similar, and the others are completely different. As you might know, I've used iTunes for years so I tend to flock to ones that are similar to it (Songbird and MusicBee). I've used foobar2000 before and love it, but I haven't used Winamp extensively. MediaMonkey is the most feature filled, but is too clamored IMO. MusicBee is just...amazing. It's fast, free, looks good, and everything. It has alot of the features MediaMonkey has, but is put together better.
Songbird used to be my favorite, but I just don't like where it's turned. They ditched things like official iPod support and Linux support which they need to be good. Overall, they are just focusing on the things that are unimportant.

►Network Protocols:
FTP: FileZilla
SSH: OpenSSH
VNC: TightVNC (ThinVNC 2nd)
I actually haven't used many of these on Windows, other than VNC, but I started using SSH and FTP on Linux with cross platform clients.

◘Notes: ResophNotes
I've talked about it alot. It's free, fairly small, and most importantly: works with Simplenote. I don't require alot of features for my notes, mostly online sync, which Resoph does wonderfully.

Office Suite: Microsoft Word 2003 (OpenOffice.org/StarOffice 2nd)
I know, I know. "How dare he even mention a commercial application!" But honestly, this is my favorites, and I just like using Word better than OpenOffice. It crashes less, starts quicker, and is just plain easier to use. But I only like 2003; anything later is horse crap.
OpenOffice is alright, but seriously.....it's freaking slow. It's install size is huge. It runs on Java. It's just not my cup of tea. Great, but not my favorite. I got StarOffice free with my netbook, and I still like Word more. It's just how I am. I'll use OO, but if I have a choice, I'll go with Word '03.

►Password Manager: None
This is really bad....I should keep a password manager. I basically just use my web browser's password memory, which is bad since I don't back it up. I've used KeePass in the past, but not for a long period of time.

PIM: None
I use Google Services. Rarely.

◘PDF Printer: PDFCreator
I really don't know of others, and PDFCreator is free and open source.

PDF Viewer: Foxit Reader
I don't always use PDFs. But when I do, I use Foxit Reader. Stay Foxy, my friends.
But seriously, it's fast, free, portable, and does what it's meant to do. I haven't used Adobe's in years (back when it was god-aweful) and I know there's alternatives like Toucan and Sumatra, so maybe there is something better. But I rarely use PDFs and when I do, I just want to view them, and Foxit lets me do that.
Portability: PEM☺ (PortableApps 2nd)
I'm not vain, there's a reason I spent the hours writing PEM. It works. The way I want it.
I used to love the Portable App menu, but it's kinda lessened. Plus I haven't used it in ages.


◘Registry Editor: None
REGEDIT is terrible. I've actually considered writing my own basic editor, and I might do it too.

◘Resource Editor: Resource Hacker
I haven't used any others. It's kind of hard to use, but it works well and is very stable.

►RSS: Searching...
I need one that (a) syncs with Google Reader and (b) easily downloads files to custom folders per-feed. Other than that, it doesn't make sense to even have one.

►Screen Capture: FastStone Capture 5.3
It's pretty much the only one I've ever used (Besides Lightscreen), but it works great and runs silently. This is definitely something I need to search around though, since my current favorite has gone non-free.

Screen Recorder: Camstudio
I haven't used much of anything else. Camstudio can be annoying at times, but it's 100% free.

►Search: Searching... (Agent Ransack 2nd)
Oh the irony. It heavily depends on the File Manager I choose, but my favorite so far is Agent Ransack. Incredibly fast and clean interface.

Secure Deletion: CyberShredder (CCleaner & Revo Uninstaller 2nd)
I don't really have a need for this much, but I've used CyberShredder before and it works wonderfully. But apps like CCleaner and Revo both have wipers included as well.

Shell: bbLean
I never got around to installing bbLean while I was on Win7, but on XP, it was king. It's set up in a way that is not confusing, it's lighter on resources than the default shell, more stable, and easily skinnable. It forever left me with a fondness for bb
Speech Synth: None (Sayz Me 2nd)
I've looked all over for a good speech synth software, but I can't find a good one. Sayz Me works ok, but really, it's a last resort.

Startup Manager: AutoRuns
It's a dangerous tool if you act carelessly, but AutoRuns really helped me get back control of my startup.
(Yeah....StartupSaver didn't even make the list.)

System Specs: Speccy
Thank god for Speccy! Before, I had to look at AIDA32 or Everest, but now, Piriform stepped down from the clouds and blessed us with Speccy, a nice looking, professional, efficient spec viewer. Thank you, Piriform.


►Task Manager: Searching... (Windows Task Manager 2nd)
Auslogics task manager wasn't that bad, but honestly, the Windows Task Manager is probably the best thing that Windows ever did. On XP, anyway.
Temperature Monitor: SpeedFan
Speedfan is all I've ever used, and it works ok.


Text Editor: Programmer's Notepad
I love PN so much. Apps like Notepad++ are a little too complicated for me; PN is simple and lite enough to be a Notepad replacement, but powerful and complex enough to be a code editor too.

Time Utility: None (TimeWizard 2nd)
I never need one. When I do, I find one online or open a script I wrote along time ago called the Time Wizard.

◘ToDo: None
The thing about ToDo is that I usually think about stuff I need to do when I'm not at my computer, so it needs to be able to sync to my mobile device. I'd like to find something for Google Tasks eventually.
Tweaks: TweakUI
Does another exist? (For XP anyway)

Uninstaller: Revo Uninstaller (CCleaner 2nd)
Revo catches everything, makes a System Restore point, just works.
But then CCleaner has it's own installer list and can scan the registry/disk afterwards.

►Update Checker: SUMo
I don't use it often enough. I run on outdated software. (I guess Linux does really have Windows beat on this one.)

►Video Editor: None
I guess I should buy a Mac...Before anyone suggests VirtualDub, no.

Virtual Desktop: VirtuaWin
I don't even need one anymore since bbLean has one isntalled, but VirtuaWin was my favorite before on XP. Very easy to set up and use.

Virtual Machine: VirtualBox (MobaLiveCD 2nd)

VirtualBox has a heckton of features and is great for managing multiple VMs. I use it for vOmniMachine, which has like 100 VMs.
That being said, MobaLiveCD is nice to test an ISO if you don't want to have to create a machine for it.

Voice Recognition: None
I never really need it.

WakeOnLan: None
My MB doesn't support it, so I've never used it.

Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox☺ (Google Chrome 2nd, Midori 3rd)
Hurr dee durr, what a surprise, right? I've used a ton of web browsers over the years: Chrome, CometBird, Flock, HV3, Lunascape, Midori, TheWorld, and a little Safari and Opera, just to name a few. Chrome is a close runner up just because it's fast, but Firefox is generally more stable and more customizable. When I have the resources for it, I use Firefox; if I don't, I use Chrome; if I'm barebone, Midori is the way to go. I think I'm pretty flexible on web browsers, but it's one of those things that's really hard to change, and Firefox has always been pretty good to me.

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