Recommended Software

I use a lot of different software programs, and consider these programs to be invaluable. 

Windows Improvements
Windows XP 
Do Win Startup 
Startup Control Panel        
Dimension 4 

System Utilities
Partition Magic 
Acronis TrueImage 
Mobile Meter 
Bulk Rename Utility 

E-mail / Web Browsing
Webroot Spy Sweeper 
AVG Antivirus 
Pop-Up Stopper  
Thunderbird email  

DSL and Cable Modem users
Shields Up, etc.
Kerio firewall

Microsoft Office
MS Excel MVPs Page 

Web Design
Xenu Link checker 

Fun Stuff
USA PhotoMaps 


Program / Web site / Notes
Windows Improvements
Windows XP - $$$ - THE operating system upgrade

If you are tired of an unstable operating system like Windows 95 / 98 / ME, you MUST change to Windows XP. You WILL be assimilated - BILLG
Do Win Startup - FREE - better than msconfig.exe (Windows 95 / 98 / ME)

Exercise TOTAL control over everything that loads, not just the Startup group. Unlike Microsoft's System Configuration utility (msconfig.exe), this can specify the order in which your startup items load.
Startup Control Panel - FREE - msconfig.exe  for Windows 2000 

For some reason, Windows NT and 2000 do not include the System Configuration utility (msconfig.exe). This program gives you similar capabilities to msconfig.exe.
Dimension 4 - FREE - Time synchronization (Windows 98 - use NISTime for Windows XP) 

If you want your clock synchronized under Windows 95 / 98 / ME / 2000, use this program in your Startup group. It is VERY customizable - too bad it does not work under XP!
EzDesk - $15 - Restore scrambled icons 

Prior to Windows 2000 / XP, the desktop icons are often rearranged "automagically", which is a real annoyance.  I have used this program for years to specify default arrangements of the desktop icons. If you register the program, it will restore the icons automatically.
NISTime 32 - FREE - Time synchronization for Windows XP (use Dimension 4 for Win 98) 

The default time synchronization in XP only runs once a week. If you want your clock synchronized more frequently, use this program in your Startup group.
MaxiVista - $30 - Allow multiple monitors with a laptop! 

This software allows you to have multiple monitors, even with a laptop. If you have a desktop PC, you can show two monitors by having two video cards. If you have a laptop, you can't have two video cards. But you can by using this software.

The catch is that you need to have a second computer to drive the second monitor. You also need a network connection between the two computers. MaxiVista has been written up in PC Magazine and PC World. It is far cheaper to buy a second 17 inch monitor than to get a 24 inch monitor. They both give you about 578 square inches of screen real estate.

AutoIT - FREE - Allows you to automate virtually anything

This software allows you to automate virtually anything you do that involves a series of keystrokes or mouse movements. This includes a complete scripting language that is quite flexible.

You can have the script pause while waiting for a specific window to appear. You can create your own windows to allow choices.

I have used this to automate numerous manual tasks. Here are some examples.
System Utilities
Partition Magic - $70 - Manipulate hard disk partitions 

Resize and move hard disk partitions without losing your data. The program is non-destructive, so it is far better than using FDISK. I use this program weekly, and I even gave a presentation on how I use it.

This program has not changed much since Symantec bought the company. If they ever get the bugs fixed in version 10, I will recommend Acronis Disk Director Suite. Version 9 worked much more reliably for me.

Acronis TrueImage - $40 - Make image backups of hard disk partitions

This creates a single large file which contains a compressed image of all the files on several hard disk partitions. For backups, the image files can be sized to fit on CDs or DVDs, or they can be copied to other hard drives. I use this program weekly.
SpinRite 6 - $90 - Prevent hard drive failure / Recover from hard drive failure

This program has finally been updated to work with NTFS disk partitions. It can help recover data from a flaky drive, and also prevent hard drive failure. I used it years ago, but had to stop once I moved everything from FAT32 to NTFS. If you're not using NTFS, you should seriously consider it. NTFS is more reliable, and you rarely have cross-linked files or lost chains.
Mobile Meter - FREE - Show CPU speed, CPU temperature, hard disk temperature

Discussion of program here:

Download program here:

This small utility is great for laptop owners. If your fan runs all the time, this will help you see why. The program is easy to configure, and I use it all the time.

WinMerge - FREE - Show differences between text files, or differences in contents of folders

Download program here:

This is a handy utility for comparing the contents of directories with lots of files. Programmers will use it to visually show the difference between files, and to merge the contents of different files.
Bulk rename Utility - FREE - Rename groups of files at one time

Download program here:

This software is a must have for anyone who creates MP3 CDs. It allows you to rename groups of files, and create the new files in a different location. You can use this program to add sequence numbers in front of the names of your MP3 files. You need to do this to get the MP3 files to play in track order. If you don't rename them, they will play in alphabetical order.

E-mail / Web Browsing
AM-DeadLink - FREE - find broken browser bookmarks

I have used this program for many years to get rid of outdated browser bookmarks. It has been updated in the latest release to handle bookmarks for Mozilla and Opera. It can also download FavIcons for your bookmarks. 
Thunderbird email - FREE - POP3 email client

I just started using this program, and it is very nice. It seems much smarter about handling HTML email messages (Pegasus sometimes crashed on these). Definitely worth a look if you're paranoid about viruses that target Outlook. 
AVG Antivirus - FREE
I just went through a fiasco trying to upgrade Norton AntiVirus. I decided to start using AVG Free instead. It works fine, and it is updated frequently.
Pop-up Stopper - FREE - eliminate browser pop-up windows 

This works in the popular browsers Internet Exploder and Netscrape. Version 2.6 (12/2001) of this program did a good job of eliminating annoying pop-up and pop-under ads. Then they introduced a paid version, and made the free version less effective, which stinks.
Webroot Spy Sweeper - $30

This is the best anti-spyware program I have found. It really does more than the free programs Ad Aware and SpyBot Search & Destroy.
FireFox - FREE

This free browser works great. And you don't have to worry about most pop-up windows.
Google - FREE - the BEST internet search engine 

This produces the best search results, which are truly unbiased. Page ranking is based on the number of web pages that link to a particular web site. For quick access to Google from your web browser, install the Google tool bar: 
This is an internet news site that is updated constantly - via computers, of course! 
This is a web directory, similar to Yahoo 
This site allows you to browse over 5,000 catalogs online (really for DSL users)

DSL and Cable Modem Users
Shields Up, etc. - FREE - check if computer is secure 

Leak Test, Shields Up, and Port Probe programs test your internet set up (including firewall) for security against hackers. Use this after setting up ZoneAlarm (see below).
Kerio personal - FREE - Excellent firewall

Software based firewall, protects DSL / Cable modems from intruders. Also allows you to keep "trojan horse" programs from exposing your computer.

Kerio has undergone changes in version, and a change in ownership:

Unfortunately, the slim / trim / efficient version 2.1.5 of this software is no longer available. The newer versions suffer from the same "software bloat" problem that Zone Alarm has.

Microsoft Office
Excel utilities - FREE - numerous extremely useful items

I use Microsoft Office 2000 for about six hours every day. This page has some great add-ins that you will find useful. For example, FindLinks can show (or delete) links in Excel workbooks that are difficult to locate by yourself.

Web Design
Xenu Link checker - FREE - find broken links in a web site 

I use Microsoft Front Page 2000 for my web site, but it does not detect some types of broken links. It also reports some links as broken when they are NOT.
Fun Stuff
USA PhotoMaps - FREE - fascinating aerial viewer

If you like maps, you'll be amazed by this program. It allows you to zoom in on any area of the USA, using satellite imagery. For discussion of usage, check this out: 

Here is the rest of the list, which I  will eventually expand into the format shown above:
General software programs
VB specific programs 

Last modified: February 22, 2012


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