Top Xp Freeware that every user needs part 3

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 18, 2006
Updated • May 19, 2013
Windows, Windows software

What? Part 3? You said that there would be only two parts in the top XP series. I know that I said that but I wanted to write a third part to add all the great recommendations that you have posted in the comments of the first two parts (access part 1 and part 2).

This time I will write about lesser known tools, special purpose ones that most users do not need but some can't live without. I thought it would be nice to give those tools some exposure as well, they are great and they deserve it.

I did write about some of them here on ghacks already but I guess only the die hard ghacks readers will know about this. I would like to start with a tool that I have been using for some time now. It is called Hamachi and the main benefit is that it is able to simulate a lan over internet.

This is great if a game only offers lan play for instance. I do not suggest you use it for the following purpose but it is possible. Many games require serial numbers and those numbers are checked when you connect to a game server on the internet. They are not checked if you create a lan game.

System Tools:

Please insert the CD into the drive and restart the application. I hate this message. Forcing legit users to have the CD / DVD in drive to execute the program is something I never understood. Pirates crack those protections in seconds and legit users have the problems with methods that are supposed to make it harder for pirates. Something is wrong here. I do like Daemon Tools which emulates CDs on your hard drive. Create an image of the CD, mount it in Daemon Tools and you may use the software without the Cd.

That shitty movie is not playing. I don't see a picture, I hear no sound. Have you ever experienced something like that? This could be due to a missing codec on your system. Gspot analyzed a movie file and displays the codecs it is using. Did I say that I hate the fact that there are billions of codecs out there? Waste of time and energy.

Notepad 2 replaces Notepad which ships with every windows installation. It offers more features than Notepad like syntax highlighting.

Rbtray makes it possible to minimize every window into the system tray instead of the task bar. If you are like me and dislike crowded task bars this tool is for you.

I like my computers as silent as they can be. One method to achieve this is to use a software that is able to control the speed of the fans in your pc. Speedfan is my choice. It displays temperatures for important system components such as processor, motherboard and hard drives and lets you change the fan speed if that is supported on your system.

Vippy the writer friendly cursor changes the cursor into a eye-friendly one. This is great if you have troubles finding the cursor in a text document. Vippy changes the color of the cursor to red for instance.


Ghacks is running on a dedicated server and I have to make the connection using a terminal program. I do use Putty for this, it is fast and clean and does exactly the things that I need it to do. I do use WinSCP to  download backups that I made from the dedicated server and transfer files to it.

I have a Skype account to talk to my friends and see who is online at the moment. There is no charge if both users are connected to the Skype network. I do prefer Teamspeak while gaming. Teamspeak has the advantage that more users may chat and talk at the same time while Skype has that limited I think. When I was playing WOW we were using Teamspeak with more than 40 people in one channel. Don't worry, you can moderate to keep everyone in check.

If you want to view TV on the PC you should take a look at tvu player which offers some interesting channels to choose from. To name a few: ABC, ESPN, Comedy Channel, CBC, Fox and more. All free, with relative good quality. You need a broadband connection for good results.

You need some additional tools if you want to save video streams. Most providers hide the real url to the stream making it impossible to detect it by normal means. Url Snooper comes into play and detects the real address by analyzing all network traffic.

I need a local test installation of ghacks to test new features before I make the upgrade on the running site. XAMPP offers everything I need to have a local Apache installation with PHP and MYSQL support. It is great for learning and testing upgrades.


You might remember the Sony rootkit incident. They planted a rootkit on some of their CDs and users had a hard time getting rid of it. Rootkit Revealer is one of those tools that helps detecting and removing rootkits.


I do not buy lots of new CDs but sometimes I buy some used ones on Ebay or Amazon. I don't have a CD player at all so I have to get the songs from the CD on my computer to be able to play them and transfer them to my Ipod. CDex is the tool I use for that purpose. It is fast, pulls all relevant information from the internet (author, title, songs..) and adds them automatically to the songs.

Update: We had to remove some links as programs or websites they were hosted on are no longer available.


Tutorials & Tips

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  1. said on November 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    !! ATTENTION !!


    Report by Malwarebytes
    RBHook.dll Spyware.OnlineGames QUARANTINE

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 27, 2011 at 8:55 pm
  2. Eoghan said on December 31, 2006 at 5:41 pm

    StrokeIt – Mouse Gestures for Windows
    Just like in Opera or the mouse gestures in Firefox, highly customizable, I love it.

  3. Kip said on November 18, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    Thought I would add something to the “minimize to tray” thread. I like 4T Tray minimizer; the pro version is customizable but the free version is crammed with features, including the ability to hide the system tray – useful when the taskbar becomes cluttered. A real must-have freeware.

  4. Oliver Alexander said on November 18, 2006 at 5:05 pm

    As I am at it, I thought I just might throw in a few more cents of my wisdom:

    1. Martin recommends “Rbtray” to minimize applications to tray. The program “PowerPro”, which I have already recommended in my comments to Part II (see URL there) also has a subfunction to tight click minimize button for minimizing to tray. I recommend that every user should at some stage spend some time checking out PowerPro, which also has a very eager and vibrant support forum.

    Have I already said, it is a program with megatons of features for less than 2MB d/load? It’s somewhat rudimentatry website represents it regretfully only marginally.

    2. One of my maain gripes is, or was ;): whenever I wanted to copy or move a large number of files I get an indicator that it may take about, say 12 minutes. A time which I of course want to spend doing other things. Thjus I come back after 15 minutes only to see that the process stopped after 2% with a message that a file cannot be copied for whichever reason. Roadkil’s Unstoppable Copier, a very small program (martin likes small) takes care of such problems!

    3. inUse is a small executable from Microsoft (with the usual idiotically large installer to download) allows to schedule replacement of files that are currently in use on reboot.

    4. “Resource Hacker” allows for replacement of icons and bitmaps in applications as well as number other other ways to fiddle with
    executables and dlls, such as re-arranging menus. Also often useful to remove splashscreens (sometimes not complete deletion but replacement with a 1px x 1px bmp works). You ought to have heard the word backup at some stage, else, nothing can go wrong!

    5. People that are interested which programs do run on startup are best served with startup.cpl (by Mike Lin), or autoruns.exe by SysInternals (if you really want to know ALL the details). Cpl’s, btw, which are control panel applets can be opened like any normal .exe file by doubleclick (also on shortcuts to them).

    6. ConfigInspector from might not onluy make a suitable replacemet for TaskManager, but also offers lots of other useful information. As a 125k d/load very well worth giving it a go.

    7. All the drivers on your system and their versions can be gleanded from Setiawan Kusumah’s DoubleDriver application. Allows also for backup of drivers.

    Cheers to all!

  5. Lennart said on November 18, 2006 at 1:59 pm

    Great addition! Tnx.

    Also a tip (for part IV ;-): Privoxy (look at a open source proxy for exlude banners etc. You need some tech skills, but you config a lot!

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