I promised to write a follow up to the article Top XP Freeware that every user needs and here it comes. I was concentrating on security aspects in the first article and will now write about other freeware that every Windows user should have available on the system. I might miss one or two but I know that you will comment and help me out.
I would like to start with two products from Sysinternals, a company that has been recently acquired by Microsoft. Their freeware is still free and available. I use Autoruns which is one of the best autostart managers around. It gathers all autostart information and displays them in various tabs making it easy to analyze and disable programs that you do not want to start with the system, for instance because you are not using them that often.
The second tool is the famous Process Explorer which is a task manager on steroids. It shows additional information that the task manager does not, great for analyzing dependencies for examples or digging deeper into the impact a process has on a system.
Windows XP offers access to Windows Media Player which is in my opinion too slow, too big and too insecure to be used. I always install VLC, Video Lan Client, on my system. This freeware player can play many formats and reacts in an astonishing speed to input. It does not support Real Player formats (but mov for instance). I suggest you get a copy of Real Alternative if you need to play Real Player files on your system, no need to install the slower Real Player (Update: the latest VLC versions do support Real Video).
I do like Winamp when it comes to playing mp3 files on my system. I prefer an older version of Winamp, as the new 5.x version is having too many unwanted features which seem to make it slower than it should be. I want my software audio player to be fast and play mp3 files, that is all. I'm running version 2.9x of Winamp in the light version. It offers everything that I need.
Reading PDF files with Adobe Reader is slow. It loads dozens of unnecessary plugins and you have to wait a long time until it opens the file. Foxit Reader on the other hand is a freeware alternative which is fast, real fast. An alternative to Microsoft Office is Open Office. It is free, supports formats the Microsoft Office uses and is just incredible for a free office suit.
Everyone needs an image viewer, the Windows XP one is crap as always. I started my journey to find an alternative with ACDSee until it was turned into a commercial program only. I then switched to Irfanview and finally found the ideal one: XNView. It does not make that much of a difference though, I just like the way you use XnView better, that is all.
If you need a tool that offers advanced image editing you should take a look at GIMP. It offers everything users like you and me could possibly want from an image editing tool.
Once in a while I want to download a website for offline browsing. This is nice if you have a notebook for instance and need some information of the web but won't be able to access that information while not at home. Download the website, store it on the hard drive and you can access the information. HTTrack does that.
Unlocker is a great utility for Windows XP. If you ever wanted to delete a file and got the message that you could not do it because it is in use you know why unlocker is so great. It gets rid of the process that binds the file and you can safely delete it afterwards.
Myuninstaller adds functionality like multiple uninstalls at once to windows xp. It displays more information about a certain product, much more than windows xp does by itself. You can see the path where it is stored, the registry keys and much more.
I surely have missed some of the tools, let me know about them :)
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.