Must have utilities for Windows

Updated December 2013

I am moving towards using Macs more than Windows lately. I even use Mac keyboards on my PCs as I like the same keyboard key size and touch on all my computers including laptops. Mac keyboards are the same on laptops and all other keyboards, the wireless one and the wired one. The wired one just has more keys on the right. Note that Logitech makes nice Mac keyboards with a nice touch to them but the key layouts and spacings are not all the same amongst Logitech and not the same as the Macs.

Refer to this other page I wrote on how to transition from a PC to Mac for a Power User. I’m not considering Windows 8 and have a fast Windows laptop with SSD that I do my media editing on.

My general principle is to simplify things. Coming from many years on Windows and in fact Windows 7 is very usable and efficient. So I’ve tried to incorporate the best of the Mac and Windows into my work.

Here is a good list of essential windows utility by Digital Inspiration from August 2013

But Scott Hanselman’s 2014 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows is pretty comprehensive and you can probably read it and stop reading this page!


Networking

This is not about utilities but about backups.

I have an old Drobo FS

And I have a Synology DS1512+

I did have some issues with my Drobo which now seem fixed that I put NAS drives and other faster drives. Originally the Drobo had all Western Digital Caviar Green drives in it.

So my bottom line is, your files are not backed up if they are just on one NAS. The NAS covers for drive failures but if the NAS itself goes awry your data is gone. So you must backup from your NAS into other drives. Either a matching NAS or separate hard drives. Then I recommend taking the drives off site.

Off Site Backup

Cloud Backups

If you have a lot of data it may not be so practical. You are limited by your networking speed and data caps. Services available are Carbonite, Mozy, Backblaze and Crashplan. See this article for a sobering review .

 

Cloud Storage

Dropbox is a good option for storage and it has become ubiquitous. But don’t just have your files in Dropbox. They should be backed up elsewhere. There is also Sugar Synch

If you are worried about the Government getting your data, the Cloud isn’t the place for your data. Check out Transporter Sync

Or you can roll your own storage. More to come on this.

Keyboard and Mouse

I use the Logitech AnywhereMX mouse on all my Windows machines. It is the only mouse that I’ve never had any wrist or arm issues.

As I said above I’m using the Mac Keyboards.

For Your Health

Lighting and the colour of light at night will affect your sleep which then affects your health.

Get f.lux

File Management

Windows Explorer isn’t great, though better in Windows 7 as you can use the Windows key with the arrows to move the window to the different halves of the screen by holding down the Windows key and an arrow key simultaneously.

The best file manager is Total Commander. It also can compare directories and synchronize them, one way to update backups etc. It also has a very good file renaming feature which is good for digital photographs etc. I purchased it for $34 US some time back expecting to receive a registration code by Email but instead saw that they Email a CD. But I never got the CD. Well, you can use the sharware forever, it is not crippled, you only need to click past the nag screen.

Partition Management

For partition management use EaseUS Partition Manager. It is a free and easy to use program. You won’t have to suffer using Windows Disk Management. And it moves and resized partitions without killing the data. The usual warnings apply to backup first of course!

Disk Cloning

For disk cloning including to a smaller SSD and even having it SSD aware use EaseUS Todo Backup Free

Backups

I use Acronis True Image Premium for imaging drives though I think I”ll stop soon and go for free options. Likely I’ll shift to saving images with EaseUS Todo Backup.

For file backups I use SyncBackPro

It is very powerful and can be scheduled for backups also.

Anti Virus

I use the Microsoft Security Essentials

If you want a comprehensive guide look here on Gizmodo.

Hard Drive Cleanup

To Find the junk on your hard drive (guaranteed you’ll find lots of space).

I default to WinDirStat, which is free, Open Source and does basically the same thing.

There is also Space Monger. You can get the newest one for $20 with a 30 day free trial or get the old version 1.4 which is free.

I have also used JDiskReport as it it light and straight forward though isn’t as easy to get to files that need deleting.

There is Treesize professional which tracks size and can also find duplicate files. I’m going to try it.

Find duplicate files, the best I’ve found so far is by Funduc Software called Duplicate File Finder which costs $15.
I had a copy of their program Directory Toolkit about fifteen years ago but now use Total Commander to synchronize directories.

I found JDiskReport

DVD and Blueray ripping

I was using DVDFab but got tired of all the updates.

I now use the free MakeMKV. Then with the MKV file I use Handbrake to convert it to a windows file.

I inherited a large folder of files that were all for windows so I used a handbrake batch encoder

Then the names were all messed up so I used the Windows program ReNamer to fix up the names. I also make an Excel function to strip out the junk in the names after the four digit years to save me time on the hundreds of files.
[toggle hide=”yes” border=”yes” style=”white” title_closed=”The code is below for the Excel VB.”]Function test(s As String) As String
Dim yearcount As Integer
yearcount = 0
Dim n As Integer
'while not at end of string
'if number, start counter, if not number reset counter
'if four, exit loop and chop away, keep extension, exit function

‘ enhancments
‘ check character before year, if not space add it, remove other stuff

For n = 1 To Len(s)
c = Mid(s, n, 1)
If yearcount = 0 And (c = 1 Or c = 2) Then
yearcount = 1
ElseIf yearcount >= 1 And (c = 1 Or c = 2 Or c = 3 _
Or c = 4 Or c = 5 Or c = 6 Or c = 7 _
Or c = 8 Or c = 9 Or c = 0) Then
yearcount = yearcount + 1
Else
yearcount = 0
End If

If yearcount = 4 Then
test = Left(s, n) + “.mp4”
Exit Function
End If
Next n

test = s

End Function[/toggle]

PDF Files

For saving files in PDF format use the free Cute PDF writer. They also have other PDF tools if you are not into Adobe original software. An option to the Adobe PDF reader is the Foxit Reader.

Defragmenting

This is not needed as much any more because of hybrid drives and SSDs. There is  a defragger called Vopt from www.goldenbow.com which is old but supposed to be very good. Or you can try Perfect Disk. Or, of course, there is the built in Windows defrag tool.

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