My take on indispensable Windows applications revolves around getting things done, (GTD), in a stable and productive manner – and most of them are freeware.
I do not endorse or promote these applications or their use, other than merely expressing their value to me, for which I receive no payment from or have any affiliation with, their respective authors.
I only add apps to this list if they are:
- Actively developed – preferably over a long period of time.
- Actually useful!
- Not annoying – I don’t mind the odd advert – but not at the expense of my sanity.
Please note that some of these application can cause major problems to the inexperienced or casual user. Please do not install or use any of these without first understanding exactly what they do – and of course, have made a backup!!
- TrueCrypt – possibly the de-facto standard in Open Source encryption.
- VMware Player/Server – virtualization for the masses and very, very good. However VirtualBox runs VMware a close second.
- Windows Server Administration Tools – very useful on W2K networks.
- Nmap – need to do some vulnerability, port or audit scanning on your network – it just gets the job done.
- Everything – created a document and forgot where you filled it? Simply the fastest way to find a file on your computer, I can’t recommend this more!
- Link Shell Extension create symbolic links the easy way.
- NotePad++ – possibly the best, multi tabbed text editor going?
- Putty – secure SSH anyone? Ancient telnet client still finds favour among many admins.
- Teracopy – ever had Windows stop halfway through a very long copy – wasting all your precious time? Teracopy makes that a thing of the past. It also provides you with accurate bandwidth details – so you can tell if your network isn’t performing as it should. Absolutely indispensable!
- Daemon Tools Lite & WinCDEmu allow you to mount ISO images as if they were drive volumes to run or explore. Quick, simple, lightweight solutions.
- Vyatta – fantastic routing solution, that can be run straight from a virtual machine, so that you can connect your networks easily and safely.
- NetSetMan – got some users who need help constantly changing network IP details? Install this, import your company config and then walk away!
- Newt – quick scan your network to finds out what is running where. Free for up to 25 hosts, I really can’t say enough about this application – if you need the stats on a remote machine, this is the one.
- The Dude – no, really, monitor your network with this auto discovery and mapping tool.
- psiphon – network tunnelling, perhaps you shouldn’t be going here…enough said.
- Spotlight on Windows – remote windows monitoring – unsupported, but amazing!
- Wireshark – de-facto standard for network sniffing tasks.
- NetStumbler – simple wireless network scanner.
- SpaceSniffer – ever wondered exactly where all your disk space goes?
- SIW – System Information for Windows – concise, fast tool for system discovery and audit.
- SysInternals – another almost de-facto standard suite of monitoring and debugging tools. Now you can run these tools from the web via Sysinternals Live.
- DynDNS – dynamic DNS service which for basic use is free – simple, straightforward DNS routing!
- SpiceWorks – ever evolving network management and monitoring tool.
- BGinfo – This super app displays configurable details on your desktop – like hostname, IP address and much more. Indispensable if you login to many different physical or virtual machines – a single glance tells you what machine your working on etc. great for those massive RDP / VNC sessions.
- Unlocker – simply unlocks a file so that you can delete files etc – very useful when processes keep locking files – even after a reboot!
- HxD – hex editor – what more can I say?
- Flexible Renamer – batch file renaming operations made easy!
- Eraser – simple utility to perform secure file wiping operations.
- Avira – modern, ‘clean’, antivirus scanner with very good scanning.
- Lightscreen – fantastic little app to perform all your screen captures.
- LastPass – remembers all your passwords + auto form fill and secure password generation. Could not live without it !