Must have software for my new computer

Martin Brinkmann
May 6, 2008
Updated • Apr 27, 2014
Software, Windows software

I'm still not finished with the installation of all applications that I want to use on my new computer but the essential ones are there.

Essential are those that are needed to work online and view most of the files that I need to work with. The first two applications that I install on a new PC are Firefox and Thunderbird,both in their latest release version of course.

Since I have been using the applications on my previous PC as well, I had to move personal data such as bookmarks, passwords, cookies and browser extensions to the new computer as it would speed things up a lot.

I have used the excellent MozBackup to import the data from my old computer. It is designed for Mozilla applications and can backup profiles and import them again on another system.

Once I had access to my bookmarks and emails I began to install several applications that I needed for work.

The screenshot application MWSnap, WinSCP and Putty to administrate my dedicated server, GIMP for editing images and XNView Lite for viewing images.

Then Extract Now to work with all kinds of archives, XMPlay for playing music, SMPlayer for videos, Notepad++ for working with texts and source codes and True Crypt to protect the computer and its data by encrypting it.

Some applications that I need from time to time are not installed yet. This includes the awesome Unlocker to get rid of the "currently in use" message when deleting or moving files, Eraser to delete files permanently, Recuva to to recover files and Revo Uninstaller to completely remove installed applications.

I do install Newsbin Pro, uTorrent and Opera as well but that's it basically. That's my main set of applications that I need regularly. I may have missed one or two but they will come to my mind in the moment I need them and miss the function that they provided.

Have anything to add? Let me know please.

Update: Things have changed a bit ever since I published this article. While I do install the majority of programs on new PCs in 2014 as well, I have made a couple of changes or additions.

I use 7-Zip now to manage archive files, as the image editing program, Google Chrome as another browser next to Firefox, and VLC Media Player next to SMPlayer.


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  1. dan said on March 18, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    file sharing: utorrent
    browser: firefox
    zip: izarc [& 7zip]
    pictures: irfanview
    pic edit:
    data recovery: power data recovery
    media player : the kmplayer [& itunes]
    firewall: zonealarm
    antivirus: antivir & threatfire
    spyware: superantispyware, spybot s&d, spywareblaster, & ad-aware
    tune-ups and cleaners: advanced systemcare, ccleaner, cwshredder, tuneup utilities & ashampoo winoptimizer
    defragmenting: iobit smartdefrag & auslogic registry defrag
    virtual drive: poweriso [daemon tools]
    misc: launchy, musicbridge, everest home edition ,any video converter, aoa audio extractor, barback, dvd flick?, freerip, k-lite codec pack, manycam, metageek inssider, splitcam, skype?
    scrabble: wordbiz
    ms office alt:

  2. Mike512 said on May 11, 2008 at 9:15 am

    I just stumbled on your blog and thought I might chime in on tedious OS/App installs. My situation is different however. I use 3 or 4 computers in different places in a given day. One for my main job, one for a part-time gig I am working then I have my laptop & a desktop. With all those scattered about & the need to keep my stuff in sync I moved to a 4 gig truecrypt hidden volume set to travel mode on my iPod. Then I installed PortableApps in that volume. has tons of great apps I know FF, CCleaner, OO, Notepad++, Filezilla, Sandboxie, Cygwin, 7Zip, Gimp, KeePass, ClamWin, VLC, Thunderbird & Sunbird all have ready-made portable versions for sporting around to different computers via usb stick or other devices. Yeah, it’s kind of a pain to have to boot up then get into my stuff but I get the advantage of never having a drained iPod & knowing my keepass is double encrypted on a hidden volume so even if I am tortured they won’t get to the real data! Just a thought man, keep up the good work. 1 question though does anyone know of a portable usenet app? Install once, use many.

    Take care
    Austin, TX

  3. Tobey said on May 7, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Martin, have you tried FastStone’s Screen Capture tool? It’s simply awesome. Though, the newest version became a shareware but you can still get the older one which is great. PDF viewer wouldn’t hurt either and an app launcher is generally a must-have but I’m pretty sure u know that :P Not mentioning MPC with browser plugins to view QuickTime and RealMedia vids or VLC. And Camstudio or Camtasia will come in handy too. No moar ideas atm :)

  4. Votre said on May 7, 2008 at 5:06 am

    I didn’t mention this in my first comment because I didn’t know if it would be relevant to the discussion, but just in case it is, here goes:

    Linux (any)

    I’ve been dual-booting since 2004, and as time goes on I find myself spending more and more time “getting it done” with the Penguin.

    And with apps like Wubi (which you covered back in June), the installation of a working environment that peacefully coexists with Windows is just a few downloads and clicks away.

    Something to think about…

  5. Roman ShaRP said on May 6, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    My list with links is still available here. But I don’t updated it for some months.

  6. pablo said on May 6, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    I have tried many different video players and I love Kmplayer
    It can play anything you throw at it, and can handle subtitles beautifully, including time resync with easy to easy keyboard short cuts.

  7. MB said on May 6, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    avira antivir
    comodo firewall
    Process Explorer
    Open Office

  8. jacky said on May 6, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    I couldn’t possibly live without a real file manager, and (in my opinion) the best one out there is XYplorer (

    Really worth a try if you haven’t, chances are you’ll get addicted as well and soon wonder how you managed all those years without it !

  9. Bruno said on May 6, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    MesNews (news reader for txt and pictures)
    Restore (undelete software)
    ADSL Autoconnect (to reset a connexion)
    media player classic
    real aternative
    quicktime alternative
    zone alarm
    IE privacy Keeper
    vidalia bundle (for anonymous surf)
    winamp <= 2.91
    VirtualDub (and VirtualDubMod and Nandub)
    RAD Video Tools

  10. Votre said on May 6, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    I think a lot of it depends on what you’re using your PC for. I write and research on tech topics and can’t live without:

    Brainstorm (
    for bashing out ideas

    ClipDiary (
    for those times when you need a clipboard helper

    TotalText Container
    to keep all your stuff organized

    PrimoPDFto to generate proofing copies

    And especially ReturnNil Personal Edition for downloading and testing the things I write about.

  11. BlueRaja said on May 6, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    Well apparently my last post didn’t get posted (perhaps I’m not allowed to use hyperlinks?), so I’ll repeat what I said before:
    The absolute musts are Launchy and WinDirStat (like SequoiaView but better).

    Also, I noticed no one’s mentioned antivirus/firewall software. I prefer Nod32 for antivirus (which has very good detection rates and an amazingly small footproot), and the old, lightweight, free version of Kerio for firewall (just google “last free version kerio” and you’ll find it)

  12. linuxeventually said on May 6, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I used to use Mozbackup, but now I prefer FEBE – Firefox Environment Backup Extension to backup Mozilla Firefox. Of course a simple copy of the profile directory will do, but the options and automated backups are pluses. You’ll want to stick with Mozbackup for Thunderbird though AFAIK.

  13. Martin said on May 6, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    No I don’t ;)

  14. Jacob said on May 6, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Don’t you use Launchy??

  15. Transcontinental said on May 6, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    “Total Commander”. Shareware, but the ultimate file manager, IMO ;

    “AI Roboform”, for easily managing passwords ;

    “Ad Muncher”, universal anti-ad warrior ;

  16. Evan said on May 6, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I would try Peazip. It’s tiny, it’s quick, it’s open-source, it’s based on 7zip libs, with lots of extra features. There is also a nice portable apps version. It will also do splits and joins as well as file hashes. No reason to have another in my opinion and I have tried all the others listed. Thanks for a great list!

  17. vvvlad said on May 6, 2008 at 4:52 pm

    “Try Revo uninstaller. I also liked old versions of uninstall tool and Revo is alot like it… on good steroids.”

    I do have it installed, but still love the old uninstaller. it is faster and simpler.

    Revo has the option for “total remove” which sometimes is really usefull

  18. Rarst said on May 6, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    “Another tool I can’t live without is Uninstall Tool (ver 1.6.6) it is just great, but it is an old version – the new one is not freeware.”

    Try Revo uninstaller. I also liked old versions of uninstall tool and Revo is alot like it… on good steroids. :)

  19. vvvlad said on May 6, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    7zip is great (opens all the popular formats and has its own format which has really good compression)
    IrfanView for pictures for basic picture editing (somehow easier than Gimp)
    Totally agree with Firefox and Notepad++;
    Xplorer2 free version (or better professional) for file management (Explorer like, but endless options, tabs and panels, also great search)

    I discovered XMplay only a month ago, it took me couple of hour to configure it, but I’m still not comfortable with it. Now trying AIMP2 and loving it from the first use, so I guess I will remove XMplay.

    VLC for video palyback. Also GOM.

    FlashGet and uTorrent for downloads.
    LiveWriter for blogging.

    Another tool I can’t live without is Uninstall Tool (ver 1.6.6) it is just great, but it is an old version – the new one is not freeware.


  20. gugu said on May 6, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    1) Mp3tag
    2) Quicktime Alternative
    3) Real Alternative
    4) OpenOffice
    5) DaemonTools v3.47 w/ arniWORX plugin
    6) foobar2000
    7) dBpowerAMP

  21. Rarst said on May 6, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    “I think winrar 3.71 is still the best extractor, it’s not as slow as izarc and it’s less laggy. more allowance for more special characters.”
    And it costs money. At times you are out of options (special\unicode characters support in archivators sucks as mentioned) but usually freeware one is more than enough.

    On other stuff – I also prefer IrfanView. I don’t think xnview is inferior but I like it less.

    As for screenshots I think FastStone Capture is best free one (it had gone payware, but last freeware version 5.3 can be easily googled).

  22. coco said on May 6, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I think winrar 3.71 is still the best extractor, it’s not as slow as izarc and it’s less laggy. more allowance for more special characters.

  23. uhoh said on May 6, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    thanks for the tip on xmplay i threw winamp out the window this is much better,also thanks for the tip on notepad++ very useful :)

  24. Martin said on May 6, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    Rarst I have been using another program on my old PC but cannot remember the name right now, hence the link to Recuva for the time being. I have written an article at Ghacks about it, will find it eventually.

    omBre I did not know that XNview had a capture tool. It unfortunately does not provide access to the one feature that I use most, capture a rectangle that I draw with the mouse. That’s what MWSnap does.

  25. omBRE said on May 6, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    XNView is the best, and you don’t need MWSnap, XNView can do screenshots (Tools -> Capture Screen)

  26. Rarst said on May 6, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    I strongly dislike recuva. From personal experience – it is extremely slow and fails to recover most of file even under ideal conditions (big files, freshly deleted, no writes to partition).

    It got good press and buzz based on “from creators of ccleaner”… But I don’t heard much stories about actually recovering something with it.

    My choice of “first-aid” file recovery software is undelete-plus ( ).

  27. wvpv said on May 6, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Can’t really agree with XNView or Extract Now.

    Irfanview and IZArc are better, IMO.

    A few more of my faves: CCleaner, Launchy, Taskbar Shuffle, DisplayFusion, Filezilla.

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