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Useful Utility Programs

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Over the many years of working on PCs both at work in the IT industry and at home, I have built up a portfolio of a number of invaluable utility programs that save a huge amount of time and effort. I always install on every pc I use.  They are generally small, simple apps that are either free or very inexpensive, but definitely worth sharing.

Password Safe is a highly secure tool for storing all of your passwords.  Just remember one password to open the app and either i) simply click on the name of the website that you would like to retrieve the password for, and it will copy the password to the clipboard, enabling you to paste the password onto the website. Or ii) set it up so that you open the website from the app and it automatically enters the username and password for you.  This enables you to choose long complicated passwords that are very secure, as you don’t have to remember them.  However, it is important to choose a complex password to access Password Safe, as all your stored passwords are only as secure as that. http://passwordsafe.sourceforge.net/.  An alternative which many of our engineers use and rate very highly is http://keepass.info/

Lightshot is a brilliant screen capture app.  Simply press the Print Screen button on your keyboard then select the area to capture, and even annotate it, before saving or uploading to website which can be shared in an instant. http://prntscr.com/

Windirstat is a tool for graphically depicting which files and directories are using up all of your disk space.  I previously used Treesize which is also good, but the graphical depiction of Windirstat makes it much easier to find those files that are clogging up your disk space. https://windirstat.info/

Double Killer is a tool for finding duplicate files – it never ceases to amaze me how many duplicate files I have at any one time.  It will even find duplicate files that have been renamed.  It is particularly useful when dealing with digital photos that you are uncertain whether or not you have uploaded.  It allows you to select particular directories for analysis rather than whole drives, then provides a method of bulk deleting all of the duplicates from the selected directory.  Don’t forget to do a backup first though. http://download.cnet.com/DoubleKiller/3000-2248_4-10407004.html

Synctoy 2.1 is a fairly old free Microsoft app that is still very useful.  It is a basic file synchronisation tool.  If for example you want to synchronise a particular directory on your pc to an external USB drive, then this tool makes it easy.  The synchronisation can be set up to be push only, pull only, or two way.  Replicating deletions is optional.  It is a very good tool for managing simple backups or working from two different storage devices and synchronising changes. http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/download/details.aspx?id=15155

Cloudberry Desktop will replicate your files to any number of cloud backup providers.  For £30 at the time of writing for the desktop edition, this seems pretty good value.  If you are about to look into a personal backup solution, then start with this and skip Synctoy and external drives. http://www.cloudberrylab.com/cloud-backup-windows-desktop.aspx

Bulk rename is not one that is often used, but very useful when needed.  It allows the mass renaming of files, and can be given instructions as to how the files are renamed.  This is again quite useful with digital photos. http://www.bulkrenameutility.co.uk/Main_Intro.php

Handbrake is superb for converting a huge variety of video formats to most formats suitable for nearly all standard devices.  It is hard to believe this one is free. https://handbrake.fr/

7 Zip is a free. It’s faster, easier and better than Winzip utility. http://www.7-zip.org/

BullZip turns anything that can be printed into a PDF format.  It appears as a printer on your pc but instead of printing, it creates a PDF.  Now that Microsoft Office 13 enables saving to PDF, it doesn’t get used as much as before but it is still useful for those applications that don’t have saving to PDF built in. http://www.bullzip.com/

For the more technical readers, there are a number of other essential tools which I shall list but not go into detail.

Putty is an SSH and telnet client http://www.putty.org/

Advanced IP Scanner scans a network for devices and reports their IP addresses http://www.advanced-ip-scanner.com/

Bandwidth Calculator – self-explanatory.  It is very hard to find and as such a download link has eluded me, but if anyone is interested I will send the files.

FileZilla – an FTP Client. https://filezilla-project.org/

So that is my toolkit for pcs, and one which saves me a great deal of time in business and sometimes at home too.  In a later blog we will cover useful website utilities, which are even more numerous and becoming ever more ingenious.

Priority One – London IT Support


Steve Thomson

With a degree in Computers and Business and an IT background in Market Research, Media Monitoring and Publishing, Steve brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Priority One.

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