Sunday, March 26, 2006

Must-have software for your Windows computer

Friends sometimes ask me what software they should install on their PC.

Below is a list of what I use to secure my computer (anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware), to add functionality (file-renamer, erasers...), and to feel like I'm with it (bitttorent, picture viewer, music tagger...).

I didn't add any video editing software suggestions yet. And I'm sure there are great free programs I didn't include. So, be sure to visit for more suggestions.

Anyway, here is my list of must-have software. Most of it is free.


There are some free anti-virus software around. But I use Norton Anti Virus Corporate Edition. It is lightweight and it's from Symantec, which is a leader in anti-virus stuff.

Again, there probably some free ones around. But Zone Alarm is what I use. I got it because I read great reviews about its ease of use. If you use the Microsoft fireware included in XP, that's a good choice too. But that one only blocks attacks from the outside. Zone Alarm blocks information from leaving your computer. So, if you naively install (let into your computer) some evil software, the Microsoft firewall won't stop sensitive info on your computer from being sent back to the evil doers, for instance.

Free anti-spyware / malware

All the products listed in this category are free and they all work together nicely. Experts agree that no one anti-spyware program finds all problems. So, install all of these and do scans at least once a month. Or, if possible, let some of them run in the background to stop spyware before it does any damage.

Windows Defender (requires valid copy of Windows)

Spybot Search & Destroy

Eweido Anti-Malware

Spyware Blaster


Hijack This

This software isn't required. But I like the ones listed below because they save time.

- Delete files from your hard drive
- Installs to context menu
- Right-click file and select Erase
- Erases all free space on your hard drive

Better File Rename
- Batch renames files in folder by date, etc.

Tree Size
- View how many megs are in your folders and all its sub-folders

- Faster way to unzip ZIP, RAR and a dozen other compressed formats
- Installs to context menu
- Simply right-click ZIP file and select "Extract to [foldername]"

ISO Buster
- Open ISO files

Other useful free software
This software is really not vital. But I recommend these too.

- Web browser

- Photo directory and editor
- Free from Google

- Very lightweight bittorent software
- Doesn't hog system resources like others

Exact Audio Copy
- Copy CD music to your hard drive
- Top-rated extractor

- Edit audio files

Music Brainz
- Automatically adds or fixes the meta tag information for your entire mp3 collection

Those are my choices. For more choices, visit

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