Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Ultimate Handy-man USB Drive

Recently, I had my first Qweex "customer" (coworker) so I decided to finally create a super awesome USB stick with all the apps and other features you could want to fix up someone's computer. There are 3 main sections, so let's jump right in.

I. Freeware Apps
For most of the functions, you really only need one app per type: one duplicate file finder, one uninstaller, etc, but others require a few more, especially with security. And also remember that these must all be portable. So without any further ado, let the apps begin.

Menu: PStart
Up until this point, I've used the PortableApps menu launcher but I tried the latest version and didn't like it very much. Plus, I would actually prefer one that does not automatically scan; yeah, you have to manually add entries, but you have super control over everything. I absolutely love PStart and probably will never use anything else again.

Well you might get bored, right? So it's always good to have a few lite portable games, if you end out waiting an hour just for it to copy files or something. I wasn't extremely selective since it's not very high priority, and none of them are very graphically intensive.
  1. Duck Doom Deluxe: Doom mixed with Duck Hunt.
  2. GeneRally: Simple overhead racing game.
  3. LBreakout2: Nothing passes the time quite like Breakout.
  4. Mines Perfect: A more advanced version of Minesweeper.
  5. Minimal Yahtzee: A lightweight Yahtzee game.
  6. PokerTH: Texas Hold-em poker.
  7. Uno: Classic card game.
  8. VisualBoyAdvance:Gameboy Advance Emulator; great with some ROMS, such as the classic Pokemon.
For many reasons, including how sucky being forced to used IE is, it's wise to carry around an arsenal of network apps of all varieties.
  1. eToolz: A smattering of network tools.
  2. FileZilla: Powerful FTP client.
  3. Firefox: A web browser that is not IE.
  4. Chrome: Another web browser that is not IE.
  5. HFS: HTTP File Server.
  6. Pidgin: Multi-protocol Instant Messenger.
  7. PuTTY: Telnet and SSH client.
  8. Skype: VoIP client.
  9. TeamViewer: Remote PC support tool.
  10. uTorrent: Bittorrent client.
  11. VNC Viewer: Remote access tool.
Who knows, maybe someone wants you to quickly whip up a simple wallpaper or burn a music CD. You are so cool, you'll be prepared!
  1. Floola OR JakPod OR YamiPod: Manage an iPod. (Haven't used anyt of these in a while.)
  2. Audacity: Audio Editor.
  3. CDBurnerXP: Audi & data CD creation utility.
  4. GIMP: Powerful image editor.
  5. GSpot: Multimedia codec finder.
  6. M3: Very small, lite player for MP3s, WMAs, and WAV
  7. SWFPlayer: Player specifically for flash SWF files.
  8. VLC: All-in-one multimedia player.
Definitely important! Optimize those machines and whatnot.
  1. Autoruns: Powerful startup entry editor.
  2. CCleaner: Junk file cleaner and registry cleaner.
  3. Defraggler: Defragmentation tool.
  4. DoubleKiller: Duplicate file finder.
  5. Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder: Product Key finder.
  6. Revo Uninstaller: Full featured uninstaller.
  7. Speccy: Computer specifications viewer.
  8. WinDirStat: Disk usage analyzer.
This definitely warrants a section of its own because when it is needed, it is usually very vital, so you need as many utilities at your disposal as possible.
  1. LinuxReader: Read Linux partitions from inside Windows.
  2. PC Inspector: File recovery utility.
  3. Roadkil's Undelete: File recovery utility.
  4. Roadkil's Unstoppable Copier: Copy disk contents despite bad sectors.
  5. Recuva: File recovery utility.
Probably the second most important section, although it is a bit more difficult to find portable versions of security applications.
  1. Avast! Virus Cleaner Tool: Standalone virus & worm remover.
  2. ClamWin: Complete anti-virus program.
  3. Comboxfix: Very powerful spyware and malware remover.
  4. CyberShredder: Secure deletion utility.
  5. HijackThis: Power-user's diagnosis tool.
  6. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware: Anti-malware tool.
  7. Sophos Anti-Rootkit: Rootkit remover.
  8. Spybot: Spyware and malware remover.
These can just make your time on someone else's computer more pleasant, or if they don't have some software installed, such as a PDF reader.
  1. 7-Zip: Powerful archive manager with support for 7z files (LZMA compression).
  2. CoolPDFReader: Very tiny PDF reader.
  3. DTaskManager: Task Manager with advanced features.
  4. FastStone Capture: Screen capture utility.
  5. HJSplit: File split, join, and checksum utility.
  6. Programmer's Notepad: Powerful, lite notepad.
  7. RegFromApp: Records registry changes.
  8. Resource Hacker: Edit executable resources.
  9. Snowbird: File manager and search utility.
  10. TeraCopy: Full-featured file copier.
  11. Ultimate Windows Tweaker: Tweak utility for Windows 7.
  12. Unlocker: Remove locks on currently used files.
  13. winMd5Sum: MD5 checksum calculator/checker.
  14. WinRoll: Window enhancements such as always on top, shade, and minimize to tray.
  15. Windows XP only
    1. Taskbar Shuffle: Drag and drop taskbar entries.
    2. TweakUI: Tweak utility for Windows XP.
Apps that are extremely useful but don't really fall into any category for whatever reason.
  1. Autohotkey: Powerful automation and hotkey creation utility.
  2. EjectUSB: Tool for safe drive removal.
  3. TheGuide: Outliner: useful for taking notes of what you did to fix that person's computer!

(Here's a small batch file I wrote to launch the correct architecture version of Piriform software (CCleaner, Recuva, Speccy). To use it, just pass the location of the program without the .exe. Example: E:\Portable Apps\Recuva\Recuva)

II. Installers
Because -let's face it- people don't always have good apps that they should have, so bring your own. It's entirely up to you what apps you choose (just like section I), but these are the categories that I think are important. And keep in mind that these aren't even necessarily my favorites, they are the options that I think are the best for the person who is not tech savvy.
  1. Anti-virus: AVG
  2. Anti-Spyware: SuperAntiSpyware
  3. Junk File Remover: CCleaner
  4. Defragmentation utility: Defraggler
  5. Norton Removal Tool
  6. McAfee Removal Tool
  7. Web Browser: Chrome
III. Linux & DBAN
Linux is a very powerful tool in your arsenal so it's very wise to make your USB stick bootable for one distribution. I personally like Parted Magic, but there are a ton of different maintenance-oriented distros out there. What's worth more consideration is the method that you get this distro to your USB. There are actually a few and each have their own standout features, but all are good and you really can't go wrong. There are also more, so don't be afraid to look around; PenDriveLinux is by far the best place to go to find more.
  1. unetbootin: Very stable, cross platform, and can download ISO files for you.
  2. Universal USB Installer: Very simple amd can download ISO files for you.
  3. YUMI: Easily allows for multiple distros, stores all files in a single directory, and boots directly from ISO files.
  4. MultiSystem: Easily allows for multiple distros, very easy to use, and boots directly from ISO files. (Only runs on Linux.)
You probably won't need it much on the go, but you will definitely need Darik's Boot And Nuke at some point. To get it to your flash drive, use this guide on PenDriveLinux.

IV. Mojopac
If you have some apps that aren't portable or you just want to use the full installed versions of everything, Mojopac is an awesome solution that lets you run a virtual machine-type instance of Windows that piggybacks on the host, but has its own registry and installed programs.

I realize that there is a heck of a lot more that could go on my USB drive, but I currently am trying to make do with 2GB since I lost my beautiful 16 GB. :( I might try to revise it as time goes on, but let me know what you think!

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