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Last Updated November 29, 2012
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I personally use every program listed here, or previously used it on an earlier version of Windows than I presently run.
My only guarantee to you is that I’ve used these, I like them a lot, and I can recommend them. YMMV.
Items marked at left with ** are MUST HAVE for everyone, IMHO.
Other * items, I consider MUST HAVE for more sophisticated users actively managing their computer systems.

Ad-Aware 10 For XP, Vista, Win7. This popular utility from Lavasoft finds adware and spyware on your computer — those programs that automatically report back to someone else about what you are doing with your computer, and other system-crippling malware. Identifies files, cookies, Registry entries. Removal is entirely under your control. Uses advanced heuristics to identify hidden or stealth items. (NOTE: You need administrator privileges.)
ver. 3.93
For All-9x/All-NT/Vista. What an amazing program! Aida32 goes way beyond Windows’ native System Information tool in comprehensively summarizing hardware, OS, and software details on your computer. Tamas Miklos’ original is superior to the later (now discontinued) freeware versions of its commercial successor, Everest — For example, only Aida32 lists Windows product keys. Windows Vista use has a few limitations, but works overall. (PS – Don’t forget to download the Aida32 user’s guide.)
NOTE: 3.93 is the last version. Tamas Miklos will do no further development on Aida32 and no support is available for it. Tamas graciously permits me to provide Aida32 to you directly. Aida32 is copyright © Tamas Miklos, All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
EditPad Lite
ver. 7.1
For XPm Vista, Win7. I didn’t think anything could replace Notepad+ as my favorite Notepad replacement; but EditPad has. It is almost as simple and light-weight as Notepad+, and has more features. Some I like; some I don’t. I hate its taskbar icon (which, at least, can be disabled). I love it’s multi-document tab system, and the unlimited undo since Ver. 4. I use EditPad for all page creations and changes on this site. Great postcardware by Jan Goyvaerts.

Another Great Notepad Replacement...
Notepad+ ver. 1.11 For All-9x/2K/XP. Roger Meurs’ outstanding freeware replacement for the Windows Notepad program, with many more features — and without Notepad’s limitations! Of several Notepad replacements, this was long my favorite until EditPad supplanted it. For most people, this will be the perfect Notepad replacement, and the first one I recommend they try! (Unfortunately, Roger no longer allows direct-linking to the file download, and his site now is ad-laden.)
ver. 1.1j

or version with installer
For All-NT. Finally, a tool to back up the Win XP Registry! (Microsoft didn’t include one with Win XP itself.) Written by Lars Hederer. Read his detailed information for the complete story. The current download bundle also includes Lars’ NTRegOpt tool, so you don’t have to download this separately. Neither is for Windows Vistra! (AumHa.org is an official mirror site for ERUNT and NTRegOpt. Click on his name above if you prefer to download directly from the author’s Web page.)
ver. 1.4
XP, Vista, Win7. Hey, this is cool! I love fonts. I always have more installed than anyone says I ought to have. Every font management program I’ve seen before has been either way too little, or way too much. However, this tiny freeware utility by Edwin Martin is a winner! It generates an HTML file displaying your fonts however you say. Want to see them all in a different sample phrase (maybe one you’re typesetting at the moment)? In seconds, you can regenerate the entire file. Fun and practical!
ver. 2.0.4

Zipped executable
For XP, Vista, Win7. This is an experts’ tool! — an awesome weapon in the fight against adware, spyware, and other parasites, Like other powerful weapons, wield it carefully! HJT displays legitimate and illegitimate programs without judgment, so don’t just remove everything it finds; but the comprehensive list it generates finds things no other detection tool will catch. (HJT is also useful in seeing what else your computer is running without your knowledge.) Save the log and post it to a new thread here. To learn more about what HJT shows you, read this excellent tutorial. By Merijn Bellekom. (AumHa.org is an official mirror site for this utility and its tutorial.)
ver. 2.6
XP, Vista, Win7, Win8. Adds spell checking to any browser text box! Just right-click the text area and select “Check Spelling.” (On ordinary IE installs, you also get a toolbar button and a Tools menu item to launch this. On branded browsers and shell overlays such as MyIE, you only get the right-click option which, in any case, is the handiest.) Read here about several improvements in Version 2. Use it in the AumHa Forums! By Sidney Chong.
ver. 1.31
NT/2K/XP. This Microsoft freeware utility provides “on-the-fly” capability to replace files currenly in use by the operating system. Not only does this let you replace a single file instead of multiple files (as with a service pack), it helps in other areas, such as replacing protected files in Win XP (where Windows File Protection otherwise would undo your file replacement on the next boot). For further information on use, syntax, and recommended precautions, see MSKB 228930.
Irfan View
ver. 4.35
For XP, Vista, Win7, Win8. My favorite graphic-file viewer — but so much more than that! You just may not believe everything this can do! I really recommend you download and use this! Now includes scanner management & TWAIN acquisition, sophisticated image editing, format conversion, audio-video file playing — and more. Freeware by Irfan Skiljan. ONE CAVEAT: On the latest version, uncheck the two boxes installing an eBay toolbar and browser toolbar buttons — unless, of course, you want them!
NTFS Reader for DOS
ver. 1.0

Alternate Link No. 1
For All-NT. This is an absolutely essential recovery tool if you use NTFS partitions. Add this 147 KB executable file to your Win9x-based boot floppy and it will let you read any NTFS partition and copy off files to any FAT partition. (Don’t be thrown when the page says “Demo software.” It’s outright freeware.) For further information, see the NTFS.com products page.
ver. 1.1j

or verson with installer
For NT/2K/XP. This optimizes the Win NT/2K/XP Registry much as SCANREG /OPT does for Win98/ME. Written by Lars Hederer. Read his detailed information for the complete story. TIP: This utility also comes bundled when you download Lars’ ERUNT tool, so save yourself some download time if you want both. (AumHa.org is an official mirror site for ERUNT and NTRegOpt. Click on his name above if you prefer to download directly from the author’s Web page.)
Outlook Duplicate Items Remover (ODIR)
ver. 1.4
ODIR lets you find and remove all duplicate items in your Outlook email, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, or Notes folders. (I bet you can already think of a bunch of good uses for this!) Install it, then find the ODIR menu added to Outlook.Freeware by Vaita.
ver. 1.03
For All-NT. OfficeIns is a Microsoft Office add-ins manager. Want to know what has its hooks into your Office programs? This little utility will tell you. For example, Adobe Acrobat can bury its hooks deep into Microsoft Outlook — but who uses Acrobat with Outlook? Disabling the Acrobat hooks, in some cases, has turned a nearly paralized copy of Outlook into a speed-demon. (And you can find many other uses on your own!) Freeware by Nir Sofer.
Ping Plotter
ver. 3.6
For All-NT/Vista. This exceptional GUI-based traceroute tool has features I’ve only seen in expensive industrial-strength tools, including dynamic tracking of changes in node response time — great for tracking a network outage across time. It’s also very fast! The shareware version has more features for a nominal cost, but the simpler 1.x is entirely free. For samples and more info, see here. By Pete Ness.
WINDOWS VISTA NOTE: Windows Vista compatibility isn’t perfect yet. Some packet types still give problems. See Nessoft’s knowledge base article summarizing the issues. An update is in the works.

Another Very Good Traceroute Tool...
AnalogX HyperTrace ver. 2.02 For XP. This is a very good GUI-based traceroute tool. Few bells and whistles, and not as much information as either Ping Plotter or the (sadly) discontinued NeoTrace Express. But it gives fast basic information! Don’t overlook the Copy button. (Tip from MS-MVP Tom Porterfield.)
ver. 1.2
For All-NT. Windows shell enhancement that adds the capacity to Windows Explorer’s right-click menu to print the contents of any folder. Many more nice features than I have space to mention here. Freeware by No Nonsense Software. (Check out their other freeware too.)
Process Explorer
ver. 15.x
For XP, Vista, Win7, Win8. Long a favorite of IT professionals, this excellent tool goes where Task Manager only dreams of going. Track running processes, program handles, and running DLLs, among other information. I don’t recommend this utility for beginners; but if you’re used to digging more deeply into your computer’s operation, you should have it on hand. By Mark Russinovich
Protected Storage PassView
ver. 1.63

Alternate Link No. 1
(redistributed per original license)
For XP, Vista. This will reveal pretty much every last password hidden somewhere on your computer! I almost hesitate to tell you about it because it can be misused so badly. (But physical security is still the most important level of all security! Don’t let anyone on your computer if you don’t trust them!) I consider this a security tool. It will show you a startling amount of information that you probably didn’t even know existed, including all autocomplete information stored by IE — and it lets you delete each item selectively! You can also migrate your passwords to a different computer. Freeware by Nir Sofer. (Check out his other freeware too.)
NOTE: McAfee and some other antivirus programs label this file a virus. (Trend Micro’s spyware scanner and Norton Antivirus correctly identifies it as a password hacker.) The file is virus-free. Please feel free to check it with other antivirus tools for confirmation.

Another Recommended Password Discloser
RockXP For 2K/XP. This one is scary! But, besides its usefulness in finding password you thought unrecoverable, it also emphasizes that physical security is still the most important level of all security! This has a couple of functions to help manage Windows Product Activation, listing of remote access passwords, as well as many other passwords not limited to what IE retains. Also has a “strong password” random generator. By Korban.
PuTTY ver. 0.62
For All-NT. By Simon Tatham. PuTTY is a Windows-based Telnet and SSH client. SSH, or Secure Shell, is essentially a secure Telnet popular on the Unix platform. PuTTY is much more robust than Windows’ native Telnet client. PSFTP is a Secure FTP client (command line based) from the same author. I use both, and redistribute them here under the MIT license. Learn more about them, read the FAQ and documents, and learn about companion tools here.
QuickRes NT
ver. 1.0
For All-NT/Vista. This clone of the free Windows PowerToy QuickRes does everything the original does — sit in the System Tray and let you dynamically change screen resolution and color depth with a click — and more (e.g., change screen refresh rate). By David McCabe on Sunlight.

Another Great QuickRes Substitute...
1st QuickRes Light For NT/2K/XP. Comes in a “Pro” version, and the freeware version linked here (confusingly marked “trial” version). Besides allowing you to dynamically change screen resolution and color depth with a click, it has additional features not found in QuickRes NT, though I’ve found it to slightly misbehave. Also works on Win 9x, but Win98 and ME don’t need it. From Green Parrots Software.
ver. 1.2
For XP. This compact utility by Russ Chinoy (see his Platinum WebWorx site) is the perfect tool for an increasingly necessary job: With the rise of HTML and quoted printable, ever more letters, on Reply, don’t add the little > carats. QuoteClip takes care of it. Cut the original message to the clipboard, click QuoteClip once, paste the message back into the email window — all done! Perfect rice every time! (Run it from QuickTray, or QuickLaunch in Win XP. It will be there only when you need it, consuming no resources the rest of the time.) To install, copy all unzipped files into a folder, then make a shortcut. No exaggeration: This utility dramatically improves the quality of my online life every day.
ver. 2.5

Alternate Link
(redistributed per original license)
For All-NT. Restore deleted files that are no longer in the Recycle Bin! When a file is deleted from your computer, its contents aren’t immediately destroyed. Its hard drive space is made available for use, but until that space is overwritten, your old data is usually intact. Restoration by Brian Kato recovers such files on either FAT or NTFS partitions. Only 406 KB (or 200 KB for XP or 2K), it fits easily on a floppy, or runs from your hard drive. Generally, the sooner you try to restore a file, the more successful you’ll be.

Another Great file Recovery Tool...
PC Inspector For All-9x/NT/2K/XP. (Win95 requires an additional module.) Not as simple as Restoration, but includes the addtional capabilities of recovering lost drives. By Alexander Grau.
ver. 2.0
For <All-NT/Vista. Discloses passwords that are only displayed as asterisks. I suppose, ultimately, this is a cracker’s tool; but there are practical, legitimate uses for it, so I decided to post the link. (Your antivirus program still may flag this as a virus! Many security programs don’t like people being able to hack even their own passwords, so you may have to explicitly allow this or temporarily disable your AV in order to install it.) By SnadBoy Software.
Scanner For All-NT/Vista. Top-notch graphical disk disk usage tool employing concentric ring design. Stand-alone executable doesn’t require installation. Fast, useful, with many excellent features — you can even integrate it into the right-click (context) menu in Windows Explorer if you wish. By Steffen Gerlach. (Tip from Lee Perkins.)
ShortKeys Lite
ver. 1.7
For All-NT/Vista. Text replacement or macro utility. Works in almost any program. Great for handling habitual typos, creating text macros, or even generating large sections of standard text (even paragraphs long) from a short mnemonic. The full program is shareware, but the Lite version (limited to 35 templates) is freeware. By Insight Software Solutions.
NOTE: See the BadTransB virus warning re: this program here. Also, there are reports of SK Lite 1.7 from alternate sources having Conducent spyware resident, but I haven’t found this in the copy directly from the above source. If you have the slightest doubt, run Ad-Aware after installation, but I don’t think there is a problem.
ver. 1.0
For XP. Small commandline utility that makes it a breeze to log off, shutdown, restart, hibernate, or put in stand-by mode your Win XP computer. It’s the only utility I know that shuts down Win XP and then reliably powers off the computer. For a further description of the program, see here, or type SHUTDOWN /? at your command prompt after putting this in C:\. By MS-MVP Andrej Budja. (AumHa.org is an official mirror site for this utility.)
ver. 0.96
For XP. Ever try to identify what CPU is in a computer while you’re running it? Or find out how fast it’s running? This utility will do the job for you. It’s a little dated now, but for anything older than a Pentium 4, TestCPU is the best CPU identifier I’ve found. It not only identifies your CPU and its features — it shows a picture of it! Runs simple benchmarks. Has a “museum” with pictures and feature info for every major Intel, AMD, Cyrix & Centaur CPU since the 386DX, so it’s a great reference for computer techs, too.

Another Handy CPU Identification Utility...
MyCPU ver. 1.13f For All-NT/Vista. Not quite as many features as the ones above, but compact, well-organized, both handsome and handy. Sometimes I like it better. By Martin Seelhofer.
Trend Micro Sysclean For XP. Trend Micro is one of the best AV companies on the planet, and one of the two most respected in the corporate/enterprise world. Our team has used this when needed at the office, and — aside from the fact that the downloads are huge and slow to download — it works exceptionally well. Download the latest virus pattern file here. Read more about using it here. By Trend Micro.
Vista Codec Package
ver. 4.2.7
For Vista. Not all Windows Vista versions come with a DVD codec — so you can’t play DVDs on your computer! (And if you upgrade even Vista Ultimate on top of Win XP Media Center, you won’t have one either!) This free package by Shark007 solves that problem. Read more about it here.
ver. 2.01
For XP. This tiny utility allows you to manually set the Volume Serial Number on any partition. Among its many uses, it provides an extra layer of convenience for Win XP users with respect to Windows Product Activation. Click here for more information. By Mark Russinovich of SysInternals.
Wildcard Renamer For All-NT. A don’t need this much, but it’s a great tool when I do! A light-weight, efficient wildcard file renamer that is much more flexible and capable than anything in the Windows GUI or even from a command prompt. You can even drag-and-drop into the file window (or use an Add Files button), then use standard DOS wildcard syntax to define the selection and replacement. By Oma Penny. (Tip from Daniel Bond)
Windows XP

For XP/2003. Microsoft’s new set of PowerToys custom created just for Windows XP! This is the first new issue of a PowerToys set since Win95. Mostly, these tools don’t duplicate the Win95 PowerToys (most of which still work in XP — see here). Includes the new TweakUI XP; a graphical calculator; “Open Command Prompt Here” (to replace the old “DOS Prompt Here”); a fast Photo Resizer add-in; enhancements to the traditional Task Switcher, a virtual desktop manager, and more. Read more about them here.
NOTE: The first link at left takes you to where you can download all of them. The other links are direct download links for each individual XP PowerToy.
ver. 2.8
For XP, Vista, Win7. Allows the Windows Key (“WinKey”) to be programmed to launch any executable file, or open any folder. Includes a Windows NT style Task Manager. (Redistributed per original license. From Copernic.
WinSCP For XP, Vista, Win7, Win8. Small, flexible secure SFTP and SCP utility by Martin Prikryl. You can open it in a classic two-pane (source-and-destination) view, which I prefer, or in a My Computer view. Either use WS_FTP-type keystrokes to upload and download, or just drag-and-drop. The Preferences pane allows considerable control over confirmation dialogues. Many other features it you want’em. This is now the software I use to maintain this Web site.

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