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The Best Free Software


High Tide

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This a few of the best free programs I use. For most, if not all of them, there are also paid versions that offer more features. I encourage those who can to purchase the software, or donate to the developers so they can continue to make great products and also eat.

 

In no particular order...

 

Cleaners & Optimizers: Glary Utilities and CCleaner. Both have registry cleaners that remove entries no longer needed. I suggest using CC first when cleaning the registry, it allows the user to create a back up of the registry before making any changes, something Glary doesn't do. They both allow users to easily find and stop programs that run automatically on startup. Glary has many more features that come in handy like a Process Viewer that lets you see and more easily know what exactly a process is that's running. For those who want to keep their web activity secret Glary has a tracks eraser, though I can't say how well it works as I've never used that feature.

 

Spyware & Adware blockers/removers: The most effective program by far is MBAM (Malwarebytea Anti-malware) The free version is great for removing almost any malware. The paid version is best as it actively runs in the background preventing infection. Another well respected program is Spybot Search & Destroy. It lets users "immunize" their PC by downloading the list of known malware which it then prevents from installing on the computer. A similar program is Spyware Blaster, which prevents users from connecting to known bad websites. The free version is like SB S&D, it has to be manually updated frequently to be most effective.

 

Anti-Virus programs: The two I would recommend are MSE and Avast. Both are free and very effective for the average user. When used along with common sense and caution, i.e. not clicking links in spam, they offer all the protection most users need. For anyone who doesn't already know, never run two A/V programs at the same time.

 

Live CD OS: These are operating systems that run directly from the optical (CD/DVD) drive or even through a flash drive. I choose to use a CD because most computers will boot from them without having to fiddle with the boot options on the PC.

 

 The Live CD OS can be absolutely invaluable when unable to remove nasty viruses and other malware. Their best feature is the ability to access an infected computer and copy files that have not been backed up so users can then reinstall the OS. I refer most people to a site called BitDefender Rescue CD because it has easy to follow instructions on how to create the disk, plus it can possibly remove the malware so the OS doesn't have to be reinstalled. Linux, Ubuntu and others also work well if just accessing the files is the only objective.

 

When installing any software, especially freeware, always pay close attention to what you agree to install. Many free programs will install toolbars, direct your browser to a different Start page and do other things you don't want to do. 

 

This isn't my complete list of preferred free programs, just what time will allow me to post right now. I encourage others to add their favorites and/or argue about which ones I chose and if another is a better option.

 

Good day all, HT.

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OblivionzGoat

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Excellent, well detailed and informative post, HighTide! :) well done, sir! also reads like stereo instructions or something... lol

 

i personally employ Avast! hell, its free, and is pretty well at security, can even rival even licensed or paid for software.  and also love and highly recommend MBAM (Malwarebytes) antivirus software!  great program indeed!  i think every computer should not be without IMO.

 

nice little IT guide.  kudos to you, my friend.

 

cheers!

 

take care.

OG

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Thank you kindly, I'm happy to know when someone finds any information I offer to be helpful. I've got a few more I'll add when time allows. My 4-6 WPM typing, and long winded replies, makes time an issue.

 

Until then, as always, any input or other suggestions is greatly appreciated. I could have just provided a link to some great lists I've found but prefer to only recommend software I've actually used. I figure if I can understand how some software works anyone can. ;)

 

Btw, I also prefer Avast. The way a computerized womans voice advises me it has updated is somehow soothing. It makes me hope perhaps one day the rest of the lady will be out there, just telling me what is needed to know and nothing more. :)

 

Good day to you my friend, HT.

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PC Hardware testing: To help test your computer when it has problems there is nothing better than a bootable CD that has RAM and Hard Drive testing features. The only one I know that is free and recommended by professionals is UBCD (Ultimate Boot CD). Like a Live CD you must create a UBCD by downloading the file and burning it to a disk. As with any disk that you make and expect to boot from you must burn the download to the disk as an ISO file.

 

If you have trouble locating the file to download, just scroll down the UBCD download page and you will see a section called Mirror Sites which have a silver object with a red arrow pointing down. Hover your pointer over one and look at the address shown at the bottom of your browser. If it says UBCD52X.iso then click it and save the file to a place you normally save downloads in or even the desktop if you think it might get lost elsewhere. Then use your burning software and use the option Create ISO Image, and burn to disk. You will then be able to boot from the disk and test many things, most important the RAM and Hard drive.

 

CD/DVD Burning Software: If you need simple burning software I recommend BurnAware Free or IMG Burn. They both let you make ISO images, which are what is needed to make a boot disk. They also have simple burning tools for making back ups of your important files, if you still make back ups that way. You can make copies of your pictures and burn to disk to share too.

 

Computer Details: These simply give you a detailed breakdown of your PCs components. Speccy is my favorite because it gives you the details along with temperatures of components that may be overheating. Belarc Advisor is also great for this but doesn't have the temp monitoring ability of Speccy. It does offer more information as far as which Windows Updates have been installed, and likewise which have not.

 

Crash Analysis Tool: If you find the occasional Blue Screen of Death, especially after installing new hardware, WhoCrashed will analyze the dump files that PCs make when a BSoD occurs and can often tell if the cause is a faulty hardware driver. Rather than having to search for the many reasons a stop code may have been shown, use WC and it might help you find out it's just a bad driver. 

 

While on the subject of drivers let me suggest you not try too hard to find the latest update on every driver. If the PC is running well leave it alone and "Don't fix it if it ain't broke!". We have all seen free driver updates that are really just trying to sell you a program or scan that looks for newer drivers than you have now. Aside from video cards most driver updates are probably not needed. If you do want to check for new drivers use one of the free component detailing programs and go to the manufacturers website to get the driver you need. Don't get new drivers just because you can though, it can create more problems than it's worth.

 

Temperature Monitoring Programs: Another reason for random shut downs is actually protection built into a motherboard or CPU to make a PC stop running if it's getting too hot. As mentioned before Speccy can show the temps of most components. But other programs, like SpeedFan, can be set to sound an alarm if a particular piece of hardware gets so hot it could cause a shutdown. SpeedFan, Core Temp and Hardware Monitor may also measure voltages and fan speeds to let you know theres a problem with your computer before it damages something like a motherboard. 

 

Please read the disclaimer/advice at the bottom of the first post to help prevent installing unwanted tool bars and/or changing your browser home page. Help developers by purchasing software when possible. That is why those annoying things get added is because the programmers need to eat and making free software doesn't generate income. Also look carefully when visiting some download sites, at times it can be hard to find the one you're looking for. 

 

For the most part this is the last of my posts on best freeware. I may add another thing or two but these are pretty much my favorite free programs. I encourage others to add their favorites or suggest why another may be better than something in my lists.

 

Have a good day all, HT.

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I usually find shutdown problems to be due to a virus or bad power supply.  I have kept my same old Mach Speed rig going for 5 years and about 4 power supplies, but hey...its not that I can't afford to upgrade, its a sentimental attachment.  I leave one case side partially off to keep it cool.  All that and I have a perfectly good new laptop, but it's just not the same. B)

 

Always keep extra cables and power supplies around... ya just never know..... so the word is Avast?  Ok I gotta try it!

Thanks!!

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Just be sure and remove the old A/V and run CC to remove the registry entries. It isn't always needed to run CC but it never hurt. BTW, I would recommend Antec as far as psu goes, if they are too expensive, try Raidmax. And always get one at least 50-100 watts over the amount needed using a psu wattage calculator. Unless you're running a heavy duty rig with a couple of video cards a 450 watt unit is probably all you need. Spending a little more on a quality brand makes up for the frustration a cheaper unit can cause. You can almost tell how much better one will be versus another of equal wattage by the weight.

 

I agree about laptops, if possible I would rather have a desktop. And I've also had my side panel off with a box fan blowing in it. That was resolved with an Intel dual core versus an AMD single. Now that the AMD multi cores are cheaper I'll probably get either an FX or Phenom II quad core for my next build. I'd like an i-core but they are still too high right now.

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What video are you referring to? I didn't see a link to any video, and don't post any web logs. My aim was to simply point out my favorite free software. Forgive me if I missed something and your post was directed to another person.

While on the subject I'll add a couple of things pertaining to file sharing. Some PC help sites don't allow the subject to be broached but I'm hoping those in charge will not mind. It's stuff that isn't hard to find anyway.

Best File Sharing site: Anyone with any experience knows The Pi~rate Bay is where to look for anything from software to games and especially movies. Always read the comments and learn what type of file is offered when looking for movies, such as Cam (simple camcorder versions), TS (Telesync) Which is generally someone in the projection booth with equipment to video and record in sync, which means it's just a step above a Cam. DVD Rip is an actual copy of the movie that is usually released elsewhere well before US release dates. BD Rip is a Bluray copy. Before getting anything from TPB look for an uploader with a green skull, this denotes someone who is trusted. And read the comments, sometimes they offer great info such as video and audio quality. Most movies have a link to IMDB, which you can access by right clicking and opening a new tab.

Almost every movie is released in a compressed format. They typically, using XviD compression, range from 700 MB to 1.4 GB in size. The only way to view these on a home player, unless you have an HTPC (Home Theater PC) is to watch it on a PC or reconvert to DVD. Many home players accept XviD (aka DivX or .avi) which means you can burn this file to a DVD and watch on capable players. The advantage of this is many more movies can be burned to one DVD using .avi format, so even if you watch on a PC you can have 4-5 titles on one disk. While other compression types are becoming more popular, mainly X264, most titles can still be DL (Downloaded) in XviD if you search for it.

Conversion Software: If you wish to burn the files to disk and watch on any home player it must be converted to DVD ROM (IFO, BUP, VOB) that all home players accept. You also have to use either NTSC or PAL formats depending on your country. Most US/NA players require NTSC while Europeans use PAL. Check other areas to be sure.

My favorite conversion software by far is Ultra Video Converter. If you can't find it alone on TPB look for 10 in 1 video converters. It has 10 different brands of converters, along with keys to activate them. Ultra is super easy to use and not too taxing on a CPU. If you are using less than a dual core CPU also get some temperature monitoring software to make sure you are not overtaxing the computer. Overheating will cause shutdowns at the least, and almost every PC has built in protection that prevents damage from too much heat in the CPU by shutting it down. Intel based systems will throttle back the CPU if it overheats, causing major slow downs instead of outright stopping.

By adjusting the output resolution from Low, to Normal, to Good, you adjust the quality of the video. If find Normal output of a movie that runs about 90 minutes produces a quality about as good as any normal SD TV. It also makes a file around 1.3 GB, so using Nero to burn them allows approximately 3 movies per DVD. If anyone has used DVD shrink to copy a movie they can see about 1/3 of the DVD is used making the backup, so you have 2/3 of a DVD disk wasted.

P2P Protection Software: Many people go to great lengths to avoid a warning from their ISP, which you WILL get if not using some protection. Far and away the best free software is PeerBlock. While it allows you to choose from simply blocking anti-piracy groups from discovering your IP addy, by blocking them from connecting to your PC, I use all the available lists. These include known Spyware sites, Advertising sites and Educational sites. When not actively running P2P software it's okay to disable it if you find you are having problems getting web sites you know are safe from loading. It has over a billion sites that it has to filter through so it's going to slow down web surfing just by processing that many numbers.

Downloading Software: There are quite a few to choose from but the only one I use is BitComet. It's relatively easy to set up and uses a point system to reward those who share more (Seeds are people with the entire file, leeches are people downloading. Leeches are also people who get a file and don't share, or become seeds for others). I typically share 10 to 1, or upload a file 10 times before removing it from my list. The general rule is a good p2p file sharer will have at least a 2 to 1 ratio, by going well above that amount I'm able to get a movie in under 20 minutes.

It takes some time plus trial and error to get the process down. Just making a backup of a DVD can be frustrating, and the software itself is pretty expensive. For those who want to just make a copy of their movies for their own collection, to prevent damage to the original, DVD Fab is a good choice. And theres no law preventing you from doing that so your original remains in good condition.

Those who need additional help, or have more advice, please don't hesitate to ask or add your own comments. As always by all means pay for or donate to software developers when possible.

I hope this helps some of you, and as always have a great day! HT

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Heisenberg / HNB

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Hey HT, or anybody, can you recommend me a good free photo editing program compatible with Windows 8? I don't need anything fancy or extensive, just something to crop, resize, and autocorrect images with.

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The FastStone that I use is pretty simple as far as resizing. It, oddly enough, doesn't tell what OS is supported. I know people who use XP, Vista and 7  that run it. I haven't used 8 but it should offer the option to run it in Compatibility Mode like 7 and XP do.

 

I wonder how SS could upload images the size one like the "Bar & Grill" while we only have tiny image limits. It may be tied to the user status, with Grand Poohba having less restrictions than us peons. ;) It may also be how we choose to upload, like using the full reply option instead of fast reply, or putting the image up then editing to add text.

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This is a great thread. I suggest a couple of sites to get your free software:

 

filehippo.com - has most of the free and open source software available for download and safely!

 

ninite.com - this is a awesome site for setting up a new computer or grabbing a whole bunch of open source or free programs. It will download a small downloader and then get to work and install all of them in one shot. This one site can save you hours of time. Again this is a safe place a such a time saver!

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Those are good sites, thanks for telling people about them. I used to download almost everything from download.cnet.com until they changed and you had to install their downloader. But if I'm looking for some particular type of free software I'll still search the site and then if I find a good program, based on the reviews there, I'll search for it on Puma, filehippo, Major Geeks or some other site that allows direct downloads. I don't like any site that demands I install a downloader, Windows along with Opera have all the downloading necessities I need.

 

Thanks again for the contribution.

 

Good day all, H~T 

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kool very nice list helped me lots with my pc

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For anybody who has been thinking of ways to use multiple operating systems on a single machine, many of you would have thought about partitioning your hard drive.

 

In my opinion there is no need, I just wanted to make you aware of a program called Virtual Box: you can run virtual versions of multiple OSs from your default OS. E.g. if you use windows 8, you can run Ubuntu Linux and OSX in their own windows at the same time! You can even pause sessions and open them up again later, and even share files BETWEEN these operating systems and share the same internet connections. Probably the most useful free software I have ever come across.

 

Thanks for reading!

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Thanks for the contributions and support. Sorry I didn't see them and acknowledge it sooner.

 

And thanks for mentioning partitioning, heeeeeey. I agree that VB is a great way to run a virtual OS through the existing one. But Partition Magic is a great tool for making new drive letters and adjusting their sizes.

 

I should also add that Auslogics Disk Defragmenter is another very good free program. I'll try to remember to add information on it, as well as Alcohol 120% (a program that creates virtual CD/DVD drives), at a later time.

 

Thanks all, H~T

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Thanks for the recommendations on software and sites.  Here is one of the sites I use as well.  Has a lot of different software too.

 

http://astatalk.com/

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