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View Full Version : Those bits of software we use to keep our PC's shipshape.



DVD773
13-01-2012, 10:55 PM
I ,like I'm sure most of you do, have a few pieces of software which i use to keep my PC running smoothly. I thought it might be a good idea to share what software you use and how well it works. I know there are some real gems out there when it come to cleanup and optimization but there are also a lot of junk as well.

I can think of three programs i use on my current PC:

Advanced System Care 5 - A fairly extensive cleanup and optimization suite. Seems good, don't really notice anything from the optimization but that's to be expected. Free to use with a premium 'pro' version, likes to bug you to buy it a lot.....

CCleaner - A less powerful Advanced System Care with no optimization tweeks. Freeware with now hassling to buy anything :). Simple and easy.

DriverMax - Checks and finds updates for all your systems drivers. I find it a real pain to use again it has a 'pro' version and it makes difficult to use it without paying. Useful to upgrade the more obscure drivers if you run into problems.

Well that what i use, what to you guys use? do you have any suggestions?

Fumarole
13-01-2012, 11:21 PM
I use Crap Cleaner (aka CCleaner) as well as Defraggler on all PCs I use.

ColOfNature
13-01-2012, 11:35 PM
Linux.

Hah! Sorry.

Nothing much, really. Windows' Firewall and a NAT router. AVG is running, but the recent shenanigans on these very forums was the first time it ever warned me of anything. I don't often defrag, but when I do I use Auslogics' offering. Manual updating of drivers and stuff. Basically, good habits and avoiding the internet's insalubrious underbelly means there's not a lot of maintenance required.

That said, it's been 18 months since I last reinstalled Windows and past experience tells me that no amount of registry cleaning, disk defraging or culling of unwanted services will return it to sprightliness.

Althea
13-01-2012, 11:37 PM
CCleaner
Microsoft Security Essentials
Spybot: Search & Destroy
MalwareBytes: Anti-Malware
MyDefrag

Job's a good 'un.

DigitalSignalX
13-01-2012, 11:56 PM
No amount of software can protect a PC from a stupid user unfortunately. Having a decent backup solution (Norton Ghost and the like) has protected me from myself over the years more then anything else :)

Decent apps to keep installed for when you think you've stuck your foot in it:

Malwarebytes anti-malware.
Spybot S&D
ComboFix
HijackThis

Random useful stuff,

GPU-Z / CPU-Z for monitoring performance on the fly - helps you optimize if you're interested in overclocking or just keeping an eye on squeezing max performance out of your hardware.

Kadayi
14-01-2012, 01:00 AM
Avast
Microsoft windows defender
Spybot S&D
CCleaner
Defraggler
Speccy
GPU-Z
Folderico (as I like to be able colour certain folders like I can on my mac).
Fraps (worth the money imho)
VLC player (just great)
Bink

Snargelfargen
14-01-2012, 02:35 AM
CrystalDiskInfo is very useful, I definitely recommend booting it up a couple times a year to check your hard disk's health. Even more often for external hard drives which don't seem to last as long.

Nod32
MyDefrag
CCleaner
Superantispyware
Noscript, and Adblock for firefox
CoreTemp
I don't keep Malwarebytes installed, but I have used it as an extra scanner after something nasty gets on the computer.
Tweakguides.com - I check it a couple times a week, as he posts whenever major drivers/patches are released.
Autoruns

I'm usually a little skeptical of software packages like Advanced System Care, as they seem to focus on reporting how much stuff they have done, and a lot of it is pretty vague.
Same with ccleaner, the registry cleaning can be useful for mopping up after uninstalling something, but it's debatable how much it actually helps.

The Tupper
14-01-2012, 02:40 AM
ZoneAlarm seems to have gone (even more) to the dark side recently. Anyone know of a free firewall that allows easy individual program access? I liked the ZA allow/disallow/once/always method.

DigitalSignalX
14-01-2012, 03:05 AM
Microsoft windows defender
...
Fraps (worth the money imho)
VLC player (just great)


I second these, I love FRAPS / VLC and use them all day every day even though they're not really apps for PC health - they're just really good for what they do.

Windows Defender is the first anti-virus I've ever used longer then a month or two as common sense and being security conscious is always the best AV. Everything I've tried in the past have always been more hassle then they were worth. With conflicts with apps, errors installing new things, system resources (memory, HD seeking etc) going haywire, AV suites are inevitably more pain then aid when common sense can avoid their necessity. However WD is so discrete, so hassle free, so low in demand for cpu/mem that it's been fine to just leave it running as a windows service and not think about it. It's not a crutch though, and I know it won't catch everything if I deliberately turn off my brain and start clicking through sites prone to malware and such. However it has proved itself already in terms of catching stuff that slip through like an advertizing redirect thing or a pop up java app that Firefox was slowing down because of.

Snargelfargen
14-01-2012, 03:22 AM
I'm not positive but I think Windows Defender is just the malware scanning portion of Microsoft Security Essentials, except Windows 7 has it always turned on. So it technically isn't a full anti-virus program.

Probably not a problem so long as you practice safe browsing habits, but the full version of MSE is free so there's no reason not to get the full package.

Nova
14-01-2012, 09:44 AM
CCleaner, Autoruns and Microsoft Safety Scanner from time to time.

TCPView, Process Explorer for a closer look at things.

Althea
14-01-2012, 09:51 AM
I second these, I love FRAPS / VLC and use them all day every day even though they're not really apps for PC health - they're just really good for what they do.
VLC doesn't play Disney DVDs right. I switched to Media Player Classic x64 and I've had absolutely no issues - I'd actually say it works better than VLC does.

tomeoftom
14-01-2012, 10:59 AM
I don't trust CCleaner as it fucked my Windows installation once - I have no idea how but I did nothing but run with default/safe settings and the next time it booted, it was crumbled. Foobar2000 isn't really to do with your PC's maintenance per se but it's great for organising music collections once you get to grips with it, and just a phenomenally well-built piece of software. SequoiaView seems to have been replaced by TreeSize now, which is a great program for visually mapping the size of all your folders in a given drive - you can find massive old hidden directories that have been occupying space very, very easily.

As an aside, I've crammed Chrome with all kinds of amazingly useful extensions: Adblock, Better History/Gmail, Clean2Do, FancyTube, things to stop user-agent tracking on Google & Facebook, Lastpass (godsend), Linkclump, Minimalist for Everything, Mouse Stroke, RemindMe, Ultimate Chrome Flag, and even a Youtube ratings-bar preview thing. Extensions are really amazing.

Kadayi
14-01-2012, 02:32 PM
Lastpass is great. I must admit I was one of those people who just used about 3 passwords for certain things, but after all that gawker stuff I was like 'shit's getting real' and signed up. Separate passwords for everything. Great.

Something I do use which is kind of similar in a way to Treesize, but more visual is an old program called spacemonger. The current version costs money, but I got it when it was freeware. They earlier version (which is still free) is here: -

http://www.sixty-five.cc/sm/v1x.php

Great for showing you a visual image of the contents of your hard drive. I use something similar at work on my mac when my hard drive space is low to determine what needs deleting.

ColOfNature
14-01-2012, 04:31 PM
If we're doing useful stuff not just essentials then:

I use WinDirStat (http://windirstat.info/) rather than SequoiaView. LastPass (https://lastpass.com/) is indeed excellent. Process Explorer is like Task Manager all growed up - in fact the whole SysInternals Suite (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb842062) is very cool if you like to know what's going on inside your computer. Media Player Classic is without doubt the best media player - it doesn't do anything fancy, but the one packaged with the K-Lite Codecs (http://www.filehippo.com/download_klite_codec_pack/) will play every kind of file under the sun. uTorrent (http://www.utorrent.com/) is getting bloated, but until someone ports Transmission from Linux-land it'll do. Synergy (http://synergy-foss.org/) is great for letting me control two computers with one mouse & keyboard, and RealVNC (http://www.realvnc.com/cgi-bin/download.cgi) [edit: just click Proceed to Download to skip the registration] with Cygwin (http://www.cygwin.com/) lets me securely access my home computer's desktop from out and about. 7-Zip (http://www.7-zip.org/) handles just about any kind of archived file you're likely to meet. Stardock Fences (http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/) keeps my desktop neat and tidy - and means that my icons don't get rearranged when some game changes the resolution. Stickies (http://www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/stickies/) lets me make quick notes and pin them to applications or hide them until later and various other things.

And those are just the ones I use all the time!

The Tupper
14-01-2012, 08:52 PM
Thanks for the suggestion of Fences - that is truly awesome. I can't believe how I've lived without it all these years. The calming effect of a tidy desktop cannot be overstated.

Hordriss
14-01-2012, 09:48 PM
Installed programs: Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes and CCleaner.
Browser-based: Firefox with NoScript, Adblock Plus, BetterPrivacy, Spamavert.

Snargelfargen
14-01-2012, 10:12 PM
Stardock Fences (http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/) keeps my desktop neat and tidy - and means that my icons don't get rearranged when some game changes the resolution. Stickies (http://www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/stickies/) lets me make quick notes and pin them to applications or hide them until later and various other things.


Thank you. This is a million times better than my system of filling my desktop with folders and vaguely named notepad files.

Kadayi
15-01-2012, 12:40 AM
Stardock Fences (http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/) keeps my desktop neat and tidy - and means that my icons don't get rearranged when some game changes the resolution. Stickies (http://www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/stickies/) lets me make quick notes and pin them to applications or hide them until later and various other things.

You sir are a star. I actually have an organised desktop for once and can admire Jennifer Connolly in all her glory.

Alex Bakke
15-01-2012, 02:09 AM
For anyone who has a fresh install of whatever OS you use, www.ninite.com is great for getting all the useful programs in one executable file.

The Tupper
15-01-2012, 03:03 AM
This thread has been superbly useful to me - thanks to all. In one day Stardock Fences has utterly revolutionised the way my PC feels to use, as well as making it very obvious which files deserve deletion, thus saving me well over ten gigs of HD space.

I've always been a massively messy boy when it comes to my desktop but now it's perfect. Out of sight, but back in mind with two clicks of the mouse.

Alex - Ninite looks awesome. I'll remember that next time I do a clean install - indeed that bit of software looks like the kinda thing that would take the main hassle out of clean installs (which have always been my preferred method when upgrading). Thanks.

Kaira-
15-01-2012, 07:09 AM
In one day Stardock Fences has utterly revolutionised the way my PC feels to use, as well as making it very obvious which files deserve deletion, thus saving me well over ten gigs of HD space.

Heh, I also love it, but for different reason. Just had to love those Folder Views from KDE and have them also on Windows.

Megagun
15-01-2012, 01:00 PM
Ah, yes. I love those Folder Views in KDE. I guess I should take a look at Fences, as I currently don't use my desktop at all. Even have all icons hidden from it. If Fences works with generic shell extensions and TortoiseSVN, that'd be something I could make some neat use of.

As far as my own stuff, I usually install Microsoft Security Essentials, MyDefrag (screensaver defragging!) and Secunia PSI (http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/personal/). Secunia PSI is a neat tool that scans for installed/updated software and automatically updates them if possible. It gives you a percentage rating based on how secure your system is, and allows you to easily install updates in case it's auto-update fails by directing you straight to the website (or .EXE/.MSI) where you can download updates. It's a pretty neat tool, if only because it prevents me from ever seeing those "an update is available, do you want to install it?" dialogues for applications that are succesfully managed and updated by PSI.

I also usually get some stuff from the GnuWin32 (http://gnuwin32.sourceforge.net/) project, primarily because I can't stand having to type "dir" in a terminal, and I need my hot grep action on Windows. I guess I could install Cygwin, but (for now) GnuWin32 serves me fine.

ColOfNature
15-01-2012, 01:57 PM
I tried Secunia PSI - I can't remember why I don't use it. Probably something fairly irrational. I do use FileHippo's Update Checker (http://www.filehippo.com/updatechecker/), which does a good job of keeping the stuff I don't use so often up to date. GnuWin32 I didn't know about, but CygWin has the advantage of letting me run an ssh daemon so I never have to use a Windows terminal at all. (If you must, Console (http://sourceforge.net/projects/console/) is pretty cool.)

Other useful things: AnyVideoConverter (http://www.any-video-converter.com/download-freeware/), PowerEnc (http://www.benware.de/programs.php?sub=powerenc&lang=english), Mp3Tag (http://www.mp3tag.de/en/), Notepad++ (http://notepad-plus-plus.org/), Xpadder (http://xpadder.com/), CoolIris (http://www.cooliris.com/) (more interesting than useful), DaemonTools (http://www.disc-tools.com/download/daemon).

DigitalSignalX
15-01-2012, 09:58 PM
VLC doesn't play Disney DVDs right. I switched to Media Player Classic x64 and I've had absolutely no issues - I'd actually say it works better than VLC does.

That's curious, while I don't have many Disney titles on disc (Fantasia 2000 is probably the latest) I've never had issues playing physical media with it. With the Klite codec pack it plays RM and Quicktime flawlessly, and includes all its own codecs for literally everything else. AFAIK MPC still requires you to install all your own codecs - which for someone riveted to IRC and torrent sites *cough* can be a real boon. Also VLC supports a great deal of options for subtitles, which I use quite a bit for foreign / anime downloads.

somini
17-01-2012, 05:32 PM
ZoneAlarm seems to have gone (even more) to the dark side recently. Anyone know of a free firewall that allows easy individual program access? I liked the ZA allow/disallow/once/always method.
I have Comodo and I can recommend it to everyone. Allegedly the antivirus is not very good, but had no problems yet. The firewall is really, really good.

The Tupper
21-01-2012, 12:46 AM
I have Comodo and I can recommend it to everyone. Allegedly the antivirus is not very good, but had no problems yet. The firewall is really, really good.

Thank you - I'll have a look. Antivirus is taken care of.

TT

DigitalSignalX
23-01-2012, 10:01 PM
Just wanted to necro this thread a bit; tried the stardock Fences and really like it. Upgraded to the pro within 10 minutes. Well worth it imho.

Moraven
24-01-2012, 01:51 AM
Smart Defrag 2 nice to keep my Windows partition tidy. Has some nice other features.

Utility use:
F.lux, makes it easier on the eyes during the late night. 4900k Lightning contrast makes a difference on the eye strain I find.

Others already been mentioned.

XAuTomaT1CX
25-01-2012, 09:33 AM
Essential Browser Home Page - Symbaloo (http://www.symbaloo.com/)

Evernote (http://www.evernote.com/) - Synchronize Notes Seamlessly Between PC's
Launchy (http://www.launchy.net/) - Launch Programs Quickly
Overwolf (http://www.overwolf.com/) - I Turn Steam Community Features off and use this
Winamp (http://www.winamp.com/) - Best Music Player To Me

ColOfNature
25-01-2012, 07:10 PM
Found another good one: NirCmd (http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/nircmd.html). I'm using it to change the resolution and default sound device so that I can switch between TV resolution/HDMI audio and monitor resolution/sound card by running a wee script rather than navigating various control panels; but it does a bewildering number of other things which are hard or impossible to do quickly, too.