I was recently bought a new laptop for my birthday, the first new personal PC in some years. As I was installing bit and pieces of software that I’d become reliant of on my old PC which had in essence (at least in my mind) become part of the Base OS, I started making a list of what I was installing, that list is below for your interest and comments!

Incidentally my OS was Windows XP and is now Windows 7 and having had to endure trying to fix friends Vista PC’s I was hugely relieved to find that Windows 7 was a totally bearable upgrade from XP!

So heres the list of my essential bits of software – they are ALL FREE!:

  1. ZoneAlarm
    • Firewall
  2. AVG
    • Anti-Virus/Internet Guard
  3. Box.net, DropBox  & Sugar Sync
    • online document/file storage solution – I use it to backup my software and any other documents I really need to make sure are safe and secure.
  4. Google Drive
    • for file collaboration and document/file storage
  5. 7Zip
    • File compression
  6. MyDefrag
    • Better Defragmentation than Windows
  7. LastPass
    • Great security tool, so that you never have to remember passwords again, it lets you securely login to all your websites with one click and is much more secure than having to either remember a whole lot of passwords, or use the same password on multiple sites.
  8. Chrome
    • Better Internet Browser (now my main browser)
  9. Firefox (Alternative Internet Browser – used as my work login for google docs)
    • Google toolbar (Useful additional functionality for Firefox)
    • Firebug (website debugging software)
  10. DownloadExpress
    • Faster and more reliable downloading – allows you to restart downloads if they fail.
  11. GoogleTalk
    • Email notifications
  12. Notepad++
    • Better editing tool for all sorts of text files
  13. Skype
    • Cheap/free phone calls worldwide – also good for screen sharing and conference calls etc
  14. Qlock
    • world wide times displayed on your screen corner- handy if you deal with people in the US or Australia
  15. AutoHotKey
    • Keyboard macro creator not that easy to use, but very powerful and incredibly handy once you have figured out how to use it!
  16. Beyond Compare
    • Compare the contents of different folders – I use it to sync Folders
  17. Folder Size
    • Useful tool for figuring out what is taking up all the space on your disk drive! I recently found that my 111Gb SSD was nearly full, and I used this product to find that my tmp folder had over 60Gb of files!!!!
  18. PDF Reader
    • I think everyone knows about this one!
  19. RealPlayer
    • Media Player, which I prefer to the microsoft version, mostly as it also includes a plugin for firefox which allows you to download videos from websites
  20. FTPZilla
    • great FTP product – as far as I can tell its pretty much an industry standard
  21. Jing
    • Record or capture parts of your screen, good for creating software demos, or screen shots for support requirements.
  22. Spotify
    • Free music Streaming service, you get adverts every few minutes, but they don’t intrude too much, I just love hunting down old songs Ive not heard for YEARS and adding them to playlists.
  23. Mediaplayerclassic
    • Sometimes there are media files that don’t work in the bigger players, I’ve found that this app will sometimes play things that others wont.
  24. CCleaner
    • Great tool for removing stuff that just clogs up your PC over time, works well in conjunction with MyDefrag (above) also does a great job of cleaning up web history, dead registry entries (often left behind when uninstalling anything you don’t need any more) and also can properly “clean” your disk, if you have ever been worried about people getting data off your disks if (for example) you sell your PC/hard disk
  25. RescueTime
    • Awesome tool for logging which products/websites you visit, allows you to tag certain activites as productive vs non-productive. I was surprised how LITTLE time I actually spent on facebook!
  26. GIMP
    • Free alternative to Photoshop, tricky to use, but there are plenty of free tutorials showing you how to use it, and if you have not used Photoshop, then its a very creditable alternative, if you are not going to be having to use Photoshop.
  27. Google Hangouts
    • Really great alternative to the paid for services such as WebEx and GoToMeeting
      I also use Zoom.us for video webinars as I think it works better than WebEx for that type of thing.
  28. Hootsuite
    • used to update Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn status’ all at the same time and to schedule status updates in the future (eg when away)
    • Sadly they have now limited the free version to only 5 different feeds (which is annoying as I have 7 I’d like to be able to update!)
  29. WorkFlowy
    • Neat little web app that allows you to basically brain dump all your thoughts down into a list. The interface appears to be nice and clean, but can be a bit fiddly to get used to and wont be to everyones tastes. The ability to add a little colour would be nice.

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