Windows News, Updates, tips and software


usb device view

Check which usb devices have been connected to your computer

I have been writing a article about three months ago which detailed how to edit the registry to display previously connected usb devices in the device manager. While this method is still working I found a free software that has exactly the same function. The software is called USB Deview and was developed by one of my favorite software programmers NirSoft. Before I start and describe the security software I would like to point out its use. I work for a company in the financing sector and they have such a strict security protocol that everything has to be routinely checked from time to time.

Use WinSCP to securely copy files between two computers

A reader of my site asked which program I was using to transfer files between my local computer and my dedicated server. The question looks easy to answer at first glance but actually it is not that easy. I'm actually using two ways to connect to my dedicated server depending on the tasks at hand. I use Putty to connect to my dedicated server when I want to administrate it: create new virtual hosts, ftp accounts and the like. I do use WinSCP for all other tasks, mainly for opening a secure connection to my dedicated server which uses SSH.

Enhance Windows Explorer

It is really painful to copy files using the Windows explorer. It only displays one folder at a time and it is often inevitable to open two explorer windows to copy files from one folder to another. This takes lots of time and is not very ergonomic. The software Folder Box is a windows explorer upgrade which adds another window to the windows explorer. This makes it very easy to transfer files from one folder to the other or perform other file operations that require two folders.

Pimp up the Vista startmenu

We all know that Microsoft decided to add the search function to the Vista startmenu and get rid of the run box by default. You can add the run dialog again but there is a much better way to add functionality to the search box using a little great application called Start++. It adds new commands to the search box which define actions that are executed. Typing "g searchterm" for instance opens the default browser and opens Google search results with the searchterm that you have entered. Eight default commands are already defined and you can add new ones with ease.

Check your programs for updates automatically

Keeping up with application updates can be a very tedious task even if you have only a handful of them installed on your system. If the software has no update reminder you have to manually visit the developers homepage and see if an update is available. Most users simply do not look for updates actively and use old versions that might have security holes or miss important features that have been implemented in later versions. But there is hope..

Check the size of your folders

I was running the Folder Size open source program from sourceforge for some time which had a great functionality but stressed my system a lot during size calculations of all folders. This was extremely annoying when I was opening folders in explorer that were having many subfolders and files in them. It took some time and slowed down my system. I therefor uninstalled Folder Size again and decided to look out for a program that would display the folder size only if I would request the information.

Instant Desktop Sharing with Teamviewer

Did you ever try to remotely access a computer of a user who is not tech-savvy ? How long did it take to configure the client system correctly ? One great solution for this kind of problems is the software Teamviewer which is free for non-commercial use. Teamviewer uses two software modules: The first is the one that is run by the person who wants to access a computer remotely while the second is run by the user who wants to permit remote access to his machine. The client module is absolutely easy to use. It just needs to be executed and displays a username and a password which the user who wants to access the clients machine has to enter in his Teamviewer software which is called the Supporter Module.

copy cat

Copy Data from partially unreadable files

About eight years ago I was backing up some pretty valuable files on CD. I should add valuable to me. One Cd contained demos of me and my clan playing Unreal Tournament capture the flag and I've always seen this as a part of my history. Well, I tried to copy the CD to my hard drive a few days ago and guess what; Some files could not be read and I lost some of them during the process. At least that's what I thought until I found the freeware Copy Cat. Copy Cat uses a superior method to copy files by using a byte per byte method.

run box windows

Add Run Box to Vista's and Windows 7's Start Menu

When I first tried to run a command in Windows Vista i expected to find the function at the same place where it is in Windows XP. When I opened the Vista start menu I was a little bit perplexed to find the Search in the place of the run command. Sure, I was able to simply press Windows + R to open the run command but I somehow still missed that function. I soon found out that it would be possible to customize the start menu and add the run command to it again.

dm2 windows enhancement

DM2 Windows Enhancements

DM2 is a pretty interesting windows enhancements open source program for Windows 2K and XP. The application can be downloaded from Sourceforge and does not need to be installed at all and can be run from any location of your hard drive. Once installed it adds a small icon to your system tray which can be clicked to configure the functionality. It adds by default several interesting new ways to interact with open windows in the operating systems. The minimize, maximize and close buttons get new functionality when you right-click them. A right-click on minimize sends the window into the system tray even windows that can normally not be minimized to the system tray.

Taking a look at Microsofts Anti Spam Solution

Microsoft advertises its Anti Spam program Windows Defender with the slogan spyware protection for free but is it really a good alternative to other anti spam and spyware programs like ad-aware and spybot search and destroy. It is only fair to compare Microsoft's anti spyware software which is available free to other free solutions that can be used and downloaded for free as well. Microsoft's Windows Defender came under heavy fire recently as two competitors released studies that were supposed to prove that Windows Defender had - by far - the weakest spyware and spam detection rate.

Disable Balloon Tips in Windows Vista

This article explains how to disable Balloon Tips in Windows Vista. I thought it would be a nice follow up article on the one that described how to make the balloon tips transparent. I personally think that Balloon Tips have no right to be there at all, they look awful and most do not contain information that are important in any way. I disabled them the first day I started using Windows XP and I did the same on my Windows Vista notebook. Balloon Tips are a waste of time in my opinion. Let me explain how you can disable balloon tips in Windows Vista.

Transparent Balloon Tips in Windows Vista

The Balloon Tips in Windows Vista look like the ones in Windows XP. While it was not a problem in XP Vista comes with a nicer more shiny interface that makes the balloon tips look out of place. Longhorn had transparent balloon tips for a while but Microsoft removed it for unknown reasons and the feature did not make it into Windows Vista. Glass Toast is a little freeware application that steps in and makes transparent balloon tips available again under Windows Vista. The application does not need to be installed at all and can be run from any location on your hard drive.

media checker

Check the integrity of backups with Media Checker

Nothing is more frustrating than to realize that some files of a backup are corrupted. This happens of course right at the time when you need the backup. One way to prevent this scenario from happening would be to use different locations for your backups, for example CDs, external hard drives and USB drives. Even though you store the backup in different places it is not guaranteed that the files on those devices are not corrupted. The probability that it will happen is simply reduced.

20 essential Freeware and Open Source programs

Since I started blogging two years ago I came upon thousands of essential, ultimate and top freeware lists but only few really had a lasting impact on the internet community. Most are forgotten the next day and everyone heads on to the next list in line. It does not make sense to simply write another essential list, it does however make sense when I'm concentrating this list on freeware and Open source that I have reviewed here at ghacks. I reviewed more than 360 freeware and Open Source products which could be seen as a preselection.

vista free drivers

Windows Vista Drivers

It is rather unfortunate that Windows Vista has problems to provide correct drivers for many "not so popular" devices. This could lead to the problem that a device will not be recognized correctly under Windows Vista reducing its functionality or that the device is not working at all. The usual search the web for drivers option was bad in Windows XP and is bad in Windows Vista as well. You could of course head out and search the internet for drivers to make them work in Windows Vista but this takes lots of time and knowledge.

wma to mp3 converter

Free WMA to MP3 Converter

Several software music players and mp3 players do not support WMA files at all. Wma, Windows Media Audio, is a format that was developed by Microsoft and initially designed to compete with the popular mp3 format. WMA however never received the popularity of the mp3 format and many users don't like WMA at all because of its DRM capabilities. Converting WMA to MP3 is one solution to get rid of WMA files and make them playable in your software and mp3 players. One way to convert wma audio files to mp3 is to use the software Free WMA to MP3 Converter.

Forget the Windows Start Menu: use Toolbox instead

The Windows start menu is not really excellent when you want to find something fast. It always takes some clicks to reach the destination - be it a program, the control panel or a drive that is connected to your computer. Toolbox was designed as a application launcher that makes it easier to access drives, folders and applications in Windows. It uses an intuitive way to display toolboxes that contain links to everything that you can think off. You can link to drives and display their size, launch applications with one click and open folders with another. Access to those elements can't be faster in Windows.