The article Essential Utilities at Laptoplogic lists several freeware utilities that should be useful to everyone who owns a notebook (with an Intel CPU that is, a guide for AMD will follow). All tools mentioned can be described as system tools that either show system information, test hardware or tweak it. For example tools to test the notebooks memory (Memtest86) are included as well as dead pixel tester for the LCD screen.
You might have heard about some of the utilities and you can easily live without some of them but it´s still a great resource if you want to check your notebooks system hardware. They are even greater if you want to purchase a second hand notebook, with those utilities at hand you can perform an in depth system check before you purchase the notebook. (You could ask the seller to use the utilities for you and send you the results if he is not living nearby).
Update: The link to the guide is automatically redirected to the website's homepage. We have removed the link as a consequence. Instead of directing you to another website that may or may not cease to operate in the future, we have made the decision to present you with our top eight list:
- Firefox, Google Chrome or Opera. Pick one of those browsers and stick with, or install more than one. They are feature-rich and faster than the current Internet Explorer browser. May change with IE10, for now, get a different browser.
- VLC Player or SMPlayer for all your media needs. Both players support the majority of video and audio formats out there, and can play those out of the box without any codec hunting and installation hassles.
- Avast, AVG or another antivirus software. The free are sufficient in most situations.
- SkyDrive, Dropbox, Cubby, or another cloud hosting and synchronization service. They allow you to sync date while on the road, pretty handy. Alternatively your own cloud server with OwnCloud.
- KeePass, or another password manager to keep your passwords secure.
- True Crypt, to create encrypted containers on your computer, to keep data on it secure and hidden from prying eyes.
- ImgBurn disc burning software. Obviously only needed if your laptop has an optical drive that is capable of burning discs, or if you have an external drive that you connect to the laptop every now and then.
- AIMP2 or another audio player. While you can use VLC or SMPlayer for all your audio playing needs, I personally prefer an audio player with a superior feature set.