Maintenance - Freeware for Windows XP
Free programs that I use to make Windows better and safer
Just thought I would note here that I've published a new hub for programs that I've been using for free with Windows 7.
Here's the link: http://hubpages.com/hub/Windows-7-Freeware-Guide
I've put together this list of free programs that you can use to keep your computer safe and make Windows work better. I'm not going into great detail here, or going over strategy. I'm barely reviewing anything. It's just supposed to be a list of programs that you can get for free. None of these are trials. They are all fully functional and won't cost you anything.
Cleaning out the junk:
For cleaning up junk files and clearing the registry I like to use both CCleaner and Glary Utilities. I like Glary better for quickly cleaning out junk files as I find it flexible enough and easy to use, but prefer CCleaner's Registry Tool and up-front options.
"CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it's fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware!" - from the CCleaner Home Page
"Glary Utilities offers numerous powerful and easy-to-use system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC.
It allows you to clean common system junk files, as well as invalid registry entries and Internet traces. You can manage and delete browser add-ons, analyze disk space usage and find duplicate files. You can also view and manage installed shell extensions, encrypt your files from unauthorized access and use, split large files into smaller manageable files and then rejoin them. Furthermore, Glary Utilities includes the options to optimize memory, find, fix, or remove broken Windows shortcuts, manage the programs that start at Windows startup and uninstall software. Other features include secure file deletion, an Empty Folder finder and more.
All Glary Utilities tools can be accessed through an eye-pleasing and totally simplistic interface."
Keeping Your Cool:
I've used SpeedFan for a while to keep an eye on the temperatures of various things inside my computer. It is an invaluable tool for knowing when to take a break from any heavy duty work you are doing so that you can let your computer slow down. It has many more uses than that, though.
"If you need a tool that can change your computer's fan speeds, read the temperatures of your motherboard and your hard disk, read voltages and fan speeds and check the status of your hard disk using S.M.A.R.T. or SCSI attributes, then you came to the right place. SpeedFan is the software to go. It is fully configurable and you can create custom events to handle every situation in an automated way. SpeedFan works under Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, 2003, XP and Vista. SpeedFan works fine on Vista 64 bit too. The relevant driver is now signed with my digital certificate
. And this all costs you absolutely nothing!" - From the SpeedFan Download Page
I've tried Auslogics Defragmenter as well as Smart Defrag, but they are pretty heavy on automatically adding bloat processes to your computer. I don't recommend them especially since they don't do any better a job of defragmenting your hard drive than the Windows Defragmentation tool. None of their features are of any real value, so they are really just a waste of time as far as I'm concerned. Now, I did find a new offering from the people who brought you CCleaner, though. It's called Defraggler and it seems to be a no frills, no bloat, defragmenting tool. It only has one feature other than simply doing what it is supposed to do and that is to defragment on a schedual for each of your partitions. Therefore, Defraggler is the only defragmenter that I recommend.
"From everyone here at Piriform, the company that brought you CCleaner and Recuva... we now bring you a file defragmentation tool... Defraggler!
It differs from other defrag tools on the market, by enabling you to quickly and simply defrag the files you want to, without having to process the whole drive. Simply run it, select the file and defragment in seconds. No more struggling with the Windows defragmentation tool!
And remember like all Piriform products, Defraggler is completely free for both corporate and individual use." - From the Defraggler Home Page
Updated: I now have two firewalls that I recommend. The first is PC Tools Firewall. It is a free program that works well for all versions of Windows and doesn't conflict with the anti-virus programs listed here. The reason that I moved Zone Alarm down the list is that it isn't compatable with Windows 7, yet. I know...this is a list for XP, but Windows 7 is more or less here, so I'm sure that many people will be switching soon since it's so much better than Vista.
PC Tools Firewall:
"PC Tools Firewall Plus is advanced technology designed especially for people, not just experts. Powerful prevention against attacks and known exploits is activated by default while experienced users can optionally create their own advanced packet filtering rules, including IPv6 support, to customize the network defenses. All you need to do is install it for immediate and automatic ongoing protection."
- From the PC Tools Firewall download page.
"ZoneAlarm Free Firewall blocks hackers from infiltrating your home PC by hiding your computer from unsolicited network traffic. By detecting and preventing intrusions, ZoneAlarm Free Firewall keeps your PC free from viruses that slow down performance, and spyware that steals your personal information, passwords, and financial data.
• Essential firewall protection
• Be invisible to others online
• New interface makes it even easier—smaller size keeps it light"
- From the ZA Free Firewall download page
Again, this list is short, but I'm only promoting the best. If your willing to put in the time, then you can certainly find other free options when it comes to Anti-Virus solutions. I did like AVG, hence listing it as well as avast!, don't get me wrong. In fact, I like the AVG interface much better than avast!, so If you want to go with it, more power to you. I was using it for months. I got nervous with the Windows Firewall 'protecting' me, so I made the switch and am happier with avast! considering my problems with firewall compatibility.
"All-inclusive and comprehensive protection FREE avast! antivirus Home Edition includes ANTI-SPYWARE protection, certified by the West Coast Labs Checkmark process, and ANTI-ROOTKIT detection based on the best-in class GMER technology. No additional purchase is required.
Simple to use and automated Daily automatic updates ensure continuous data protection against all types of malware and spyware. Simply install and forget. We've made avast! as simple to use as possible."
- From the avast! Home Edition Home Page
"Consistently at or near the top of independent efficacy testers, Avira's AntiVir remains one of the best freeware security solutions around. Its scans are flexible, allowing the user to fully scan both internal and external hard drives, run a preloaded scan--for rootkits, for example--or customize a scan. The latest version introduces antispyware protections, scanning tech that can crack open "locked" files, improved internal security to prevent AntiVir's files from being maliciously altered, and one-click threat removal--no more baby-sitting."
- From an article at download.cnet.com
"Antivirus and antispyware protection for Windows available to download for free
NEW! LinkScanner® Active Surf-Shield checks web pages for threats at the only time that matters – when you’re about to click that link.
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition
* Award-winning antivirus and antispyware
* Real-time safe internet surfing and searching
* Quality proven by 80 million of users
* Easy to download, install and use
* Protection against viruses and spyware
* Compatible with Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP"
- From the AVG website
With this group, you can have as many or as few as you'd like, or so it would seem. I'm sure that at some level, if you have a lot of automatic processes running that you'd run into compatibility issues. So far, running all those listed below, I've been free to use all without conflict. It can seem silly to run four separate programs that all search for similar objects, but in this day, you can run all four while disconnected from the internet and all four will turn up results... It's not pretty if you haven't run this type of software before. I've seen results in the thousands (*lots* of tracking cookies)...then the next program will return dozens...then the next will turn up a dozen... You get the idea. It can be scary out there. Carrying multiple big guns is a great idea!
Spybot Search & Destroy:
"Spybot - Search & Destroy detects and removes spyware, a relatively new kind of threat not yet covered by common anti-virus applications. Spyware silently tracks your surfing behaviour to create a marketing profile for you that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you haven't intentionally installed, if your browser crashes inexplicably, or if your home page has been "hijacked" (or changed without your knowledge), your computer is most probably infected with spyware. Even if you don't see the symptoms, your computer may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging. Spybot-S&D is free, so there's no harm giving it a try to see if something has invaded your computer.
Spybot-S&D can also clean usage tracks, an interesting function if you share your computer with other users and don't want them to see what you have been working on. And for professional users, Spybot-S&D allows you to fix some registry inconsistencies and extended reports. A list of all the application's features is also available." - From the Spybot S&D Home Page
"Malwarebytes is a site dedicated to fighting malware. Malwarebytes has developed a variety of tools that can identify and remove malicious software from your computer. When your computer becomes infected, Malwarebytes can provide the needed assistance to remove the infection and restore the machine back to optimum performance." - From the Malwarebytes' Home Page
"10 years of malware experience combined in one dynamic application. Ad-Aware - Anniversary Edition offers radically improved performance and efficiency, along with comprehensive malware protection. With real-time monitoring, threat alerts, and automatic updates you can rest easy knowing that you are protected.
* Shop, bank, and make travel arrangements online -We keep you safe from password stealers, keyloggers, spyware, trojans, online fraudsters, identity thieves and other potential cyber criminals.
* Control your privacy -Erase tracks left behind while surfing the Web - on browsers such as Internet Explorer, Opera, and Firefox - in one easy click.
* Get Peace of Mind -Know that your personal information is kept safe from dangerous intruders and prying eyes.
Just set and forget - we'll keep you safe.
Real-time malware protection optimized for home users"
- From the AdAware Free Home Page
"Advanced Detection and Removal
* Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware, Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.
* Light on System Resources and won't slow down your computer like many other anti-spyware products. Won't conflict with your existing anti-spyware or anti-virus solution!
* Repair broken Internet Connections, Desktops, Registry Editing and more with our unique Repair System!
* Real-Time Blocking of threats! Prevent potentially harmful software from installing or re-installing!
* First Chance Prevention examines over 50 critical points of your system each time your system starts up and shuts down to eliminate threats before they have a chance to infect and infiltrate your system.
* Schedule either Quick, Complete or Custom Scans Daily or Weekly to ensure your computer is free from harmful software."
- From the SUPERAntiSpyware Home Page
Hard Drive Utilities:
This last section is fairly advanced, but it is also where you can really protect yourself when it comes to saving your important documents and making sure that in a bad situation you can restore your computer and get back on your feet. I've used all of the programs listed below and they all work well. EASEUS Partition Master is the only free Partition tool that I noticed, but I'm sure there are others out there. I like the interface and it is easy to use, so I didn't really dig for an alternative. My current partitioned drive setup (3 drives/7 partitions) was achieved using this software and it went flawlessly. The other three programs listed all perform well, and I've seen nothing negative about any of them. DriveImage XML and Macrium Reflect both use an XML format and a Linux rescue disc to run from DOS. Their options are similar and both have an equally friendly interface. Both are also completely free. The Acronis software is only available free to Seagate and Maxtor hard drive customers, but it is a very nice interface and works very well. I haven't been able to review it for use with a Maxtor drive. I recommend any of the three as their features and usability are all pretty much equal. If you have a Seagate or a Maxtor drive, though, I'd have to recommend Acronis, though, especially if your drive is still under warranty.
EASEUS Partition Master:
"As Partition Magic alternative, EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition is a FREE disk partitioning utility that offers a powerful range of functions such as resizing partitions, formatting partitions, copying partitions, creating new partitions, deleting partitions, hiding partitions, changing drive letters, setting active partitions, and a handful of other functions.
What's more, the freeware works perfectly with hardware RAID and Windows 2000/XP/Vista (32 bit) Operating Systems. Your data is completely protected during all operations. Why not free download EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition now to enjoy it like the commercial program Partition Magic?
EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition ONLY supports 32 bit Windows systems,"
- From http://www.partition-tool.com/personal.htm
"DriveImage XML is an easy to use and reliable program for imaging and backing up partitions and logical drives.
The program allows you to:
* Backup logical drives and partitions to image files
* Browse these images, view and extract files
* Restore these images to the same or a different drive
* Copy directly from drive to drive
* Schedule automatic backups with your Task Scheduler
Image creation uses Microsoft's Volume Shadow Services (VSS), allowing you to create safe "hot images" even from drives currently in use.
Images are stored in XML files, allowing you to process them with 3rd party tools. Never again be stuck with a useless backup!
Restore images to drives without having to reboot.
DriveImage XML is now faster than ever, offering two different compression levels.
DriveImage XML runs under Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista only. The program will backup, image and restore drives formatted with FAT 12, 16, 32 and NTFS. "
- From the DriveImage XML Home Page
"Absolutely free! No strings! The only free XP and Vista compatible disk imaging software with BartPE and Linux based recovery options.
* Create a disk image whilst running Windows using Microsoft Volume Shadow copy Service (VSS).
* Image to Network, USB, FireWire drives and DVD.
* Built in scheduler.
* 32 bit and native 64 bit versions.
* Industry leading compression levels and speed.
* Linux based Rescue CD with Network access and full GUI. Only 6.5MB in size!
* Built in CD/DVD packet writing engine. Supports packet writing to DVD DL media with Windows Vista.
* HTML log files." - From the Macrium Reflect Free Edition Home Page
Seagate DiscWizard [~Acronis True Image]:
"Using powerful imaging technology, Seagate DiscWizard lets you create image backups of all the data on your computer, entire discs or individual partitions. The unique technology developed by Acronis and implemented in Seagate DiscWizard allows you to create exact, sector-by-sector disc image backups, including all operating systems, applications and configuration files, software updates, personal settings and all of your data. If failures occur that block access to information or affect system operation, or if you accidentally delete necessary files, you'll be able to use the image backup to easily restore the system and lost data.
You can store image backups on almost any PC storage device: local hard drives, network drives or a variety of IDE, SCSI, FireWire (IEEE-1394), USB (1.0, 1.1 and 2.0) and PC Card (formerly called PCMCIA) removable media drives, as well as CD-R/RW, DVD-RW, DVD+R/RW, magneto-optical, Iomega Zip and Jaz drives. Wizards and a user-friendly, Windows XP-styled interface will make your work more convenient. Just answer a few simple questions and let Seagate DiscWizard take care of everything else! When a system problem occurs, the software will get you up and running in short order." - From the Seagate DiskWizard User's Guide, pg. 8 http://www.seagate.com/support/discwizard/dw_ug.en.pdf
Thank you for reading
I hope this list helps you keep your computer cleaner, safer and running better.