Windows

Free Windows utilities you should download right now

From defragmentation utilities to password reset tools, Bill Detwiler lists free Windows utilities that you should download right now.

Everyone who works on a Windows computer has his or her favorite system utilities. But, there are a handful of must-have tools that no Windows user or IT support pro should be without. During this week's episode of TR Dojo, I give you a list of free Windows utilities that you should download right now.

To keep things simple, I've divide the list into five separate categories. And while dozens of applications may fall into each category, the following tools are favorites of TechRepublic members and editors.

1. Cleaners: CCleaner 2. Uninstallers: Revo Uninstaller 3. Defragmenters: (UltraDefrag, MyDefrag, Smart Defrag, and Defraggler) 4. Remote support tools: CrossLoop 5. Password recovery and reset utilities: Offline NT Password and Registry Editor

For those who prefer text to video, click the View Transcript link below the video player window. You can also sign up to receive the latest TR Dojo lessons through one or more of the following methods:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

89 comments
ps.techrep
ps.techrep

I'd add Puran Defrag to the list. Other defraggers may be faster, or do a better job of one button defraging, Puran's options make it more granular. It has every function of My Defrag and Smart Defrag, including boot time and inactivity scheduling, file type/size ignoring, and multiple drive - though it doesn't pretend to defrag multiple drives/partitions at the same time, but consecutively. What it adds is a selection of manually-initiated disc check, defrag and reboot options, and multiple scheduled boot time defrags, so you can, for example, schedule a system partition for full optimization on the 15th of each month, it and other partitions for simpler defrag and gap filling more frequently. One note - using multiple defragers set for optimization can be counter-productive; no two of them seem to use the same criteria for optimization. Some prioritize boot time files, some by last used date, some use program hints, and "large files at end". may be end of stored files of end of partition.

SmithHary
SmithHary

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john.corney
john.corney

one that should be looked at is a bootalbe CD call Trinity Rescue Kit very useful

dcuthill
dcuthill

Auslogics utilities missing Teamviewer missing IpScan missing Magic Disc CPU-Z Sysinternals Suite USBDeview

shahrizan_ahmad_shafie
shahrizan_ahmad_shafie

Teamviewer is much better than crossloop since it's support various platform such as iphone and Android, more over the're going to develop and support others platform such as Nokia, Blackberry and etc...

derek
derek

Teamviewer beats Crossloop hands down with being able to do the following (last time I checked - I maybe wrong) 1. Able to reboot in safemode and re-establish link. 2. Able to reboot without having client on site to give key. 3. Without the merchandising. 4. Recording, file transfer, and vpn blow it out of the water... IMHO

jonniebgood
jonniebgood

Will give you pretty much anything you could want to know about a Windows system. Hardware, software, monitors, etc etc etc- if nothing else, looking up passwords for sites I rarely use and can't be bothered to e-mail to get that 'oh, yeah-THAT'S it' moment. Easily download to other computers to get an instant snapshot of what's hiding inside their little black box when things seem to be getting bogged down. Just info- and lots of it.

mhodd2005
mhodd2005

I am sure many of you probably have heard of it but i like UBCD 5 which has many tools built into this Linux boot CD. It has a set of tools call PC LogMein Now, among many other ones. This works with Windows 7....I haven't tried Vista or 2008 but I am sure it works. Definitely check it out.

poverello78
poverello78

VIT Registry Fix Free Edition (there's also a "Pro" and "Pro" portable version) is hands-down the most efficient/powerful registry and junk file cleaner I've found. There have been times when I've run Auslogics, WISE, and CCleaner on an "overrun" machine until all three of them found zero errors, and have then run VIT with the result being literally 100s of additional, quite real, invalid or empty registry keys. I've also tried this test in reverse and found that VIT missed very few or no errors at all that would have been detected by one of the other three programs. On the flip side, the configuration options VIT offers make it relatively easy to shoot your system (thus, YOURSELF) straight to hell; especially if you mess around with the "Software" tab, which allows you to manually remove specific software registration entries. That being said, Auslogics Registry Cleaner is my recommendation for general use by the less technically inclined.

uwanscj
uwanscj

Each time a Free Download is mentioned, it is hard to believe. CCleaner was advertised as one of the Free downloads but when you go to the Download, you are required to pay $24.99 for Home use and $39.99 for Office use. Who is deceiving who and who is telling the truth about Free Downloads.

Fred Cone
Fred Cone

haimsn, you took the words right out of my mouth, I was just going to point out Auslogic's Disk Defrag when I saw your Top Rated post! Also, Auslogics Disk Defrag Screen Saver (separate free download) helps keep me defragged.

kalyan_revadi
kalyan_revadi

I think we need more web browser tools and plugins which will keep the spam AD's, trojans and virus away from the planet. We have many google chrome plugins but they are not very effective. Is there any affordable tool /plugin which will protect us from spam AD's, trojans and virus?

dave
dave

I like DiskMax (Defragmenter) and MemClean (self explanatory) from KoshyJohn.com No connection with him. Just good software

dirkies
dirkies

for batch file renaming, I use AntRenamer, awesome renamer, tons of options and still so easy roadkil.net has some neat free utilities (esp Unstoppable Copier for dodgy CD/DVDs) Notepad2 as a simple but effective notepad replacement inSSIDer for wifi monitoring/sniffing hotspots (esp with a GPS dongle) worth noting: VirtualDubMod for simple video editing Virtualbox for running virtual images (although ESXi is nice too despite being free) Other things already mentioned here: putty, audacity, winSCP, piriform tools, hiren, sysinternals suite... And indeed for remote sessions, Teamviewer wins hands down.

fred64
fred64

This article and comments from the developer indicate the free version of crossloop allows unlimited file transfers. Well I downloaded the free product a few minutes ago and found no way to transfer files. Their site indicates file transfer is a feature of the paid version. If so, then this article needs to be updated accordingly.

MrAnderson1st
MrAnderson1st

I thought you should mention utilities for moving files. Tera Copy or Robo Copy are good free options that provide more utility than the standard windows copy/move functionality. When they fail, you hardly know where you are and often must start from scratch.

rosshiuk
rosshiuk

Advanced system care is missing from your list Bill, it has a wealth of tools including cleaners, startup control, an ultimate un-installer and a lot more besides.... TeamViewer is the best when it comes to remote assistance, you don't even need to install the program, just run, it's easy to use and can do extras, like file transfers and VOIP, it is completely free form personal use... ATB rosshi

scarlettlee
scarlettlee

LiberKey, This tool has many free softwares including CCleaner. It has a catalog which classify the softwares according to their function, for example, File Management, Graphics, Security and so on.

pmshah
pmshah

I use CCleaner to clean the junk from the PC. Also to clean up the registry on a regular basis. CCleaner also has built-in uninstaller which if plenty good enough for most troublesome programs that resist uninstallation. Can also fix autoruns. "Active undelete" is the best undeleting program that I have found. Works flawlessly every time. I use VistaStartMenu to control the autoruns. I use KatMouse to scroll within a window without changing the focus to it.

david
david

Over the last few years, the most used utility I have used has to be from malwarebytes. Their program has saved many a computer that I have worked on. The have a free as well as a paid version. www.malwarebytes.org I have also used the paid utility spinrite 6 from grc.com. I have recovered a number of hard discs and saved myself a lot of recovery work.

eibaz
eibaz

Hello everybody, I'm just looking for a Backup Tool that permit me copy files from a Windows Server to other, including Shared Folders locations, maybe permissions and others. Somebody know about?

slobodan.hajdin
slobodan.hajdin

Remote support: Team Viewer (internet) or RAdmin (intranet) Defrag: ANY defrag is a good defrag. Personally, I prefer DisKeeper Cleanup: CCleaner is not bad... Firewall: Comodo Everything else is covered with Hiren's BootCD... ;)

rexrich2k
rexrich2k

for the last 4 to 5 years ive finaly had a windows system (XP) that is totally perfect all the time! no matter what i do with it! (plus i dont even use an antivirus anymore!) Here is what i use (all Free)... Maintenance: 5. Obit, Advanced System Care. 3. Obit, Malware Fighter. 2. SuperAntiSpyware. 1. ComboFix. ---------- Registry 4. RegSeeker. 5+. ASC Reg tool. ===== Defrag: Smart Defrag. ---------- FireWall: ZoneAlarm. ===== Important: I Never turn my machine off, until i use these Maintenace & Reg tools! The Numbers show the order i use them in! ..Takes about 45 minutes on 2ghz P4. (Hint: when installing these, dont install the ToolBars and Crap! just the program.)

kristian_luck
kristian_luck

I've used and reviewed a number of remote support tools. Presently, the one that I've had the least problems with is TeamViewer. It's available free for non-commercial use. In addition, it's easy to install and use and provides nicely integrated extra capabilities like supporting remote users with multi-monitor setups.

acelizard
acelizard

While I'm sure that most of these utilities are good, I wouldn't waste my time on certain Defrag utilities. Defraggler is a waste of time. Even after several passes, it still leaves a certain number of files fragmented. Same applies for UltraDefrag. As for that CrossLoop, I can't believe Bill Detwiler would even consider putting that in the list. Like we don't have enough cybercrime now as it is? What with phishing, malware, hacking, back-hacking, viruses, worms, trojans (the list goes on and on), now we have to worry about some "person" taking over our PC while we're on the Internet? As if FireSheep wasn't bad enough. This sounds more like a promotion for a paid product, like Norton or some other AV/Firewall software in order to prevent such a thing from happening.

joel
joel

easy installation of some of these tools. it also includes a quick installation of Teamviewer.

ian
ian

I use Ccleaner regularly for cleaning all the junk off the PC, (select which cookies to keep and save settings to .ini), Cleaning the registry, Uninstalling programs and applications, Controlling which programs run at startup and System restore Defraggle to defrag after I've run ccleaner Recuvva - just in case.

The Daleks
The Daleks

I agree with @njcsamuels about Mikogo being a better tool. Their free version lets you have up to 10 people in a conference. I also like TeamViewer, which is the easiest free tool from the perspective of the person receiving support. I'm surprised that Bill has two separate reviews of Crossloop. I would not try to support someone with a tool that required them to download and install an application, then configure it. A person receiving support is typically not comfortable doing all this, so it can just add to their frustration and make the support process longer.

njcsamuels
njcsamuels

mikogo - remote support. very simple to setup a session. end user doesnt have to register. winscp - ftp/sftp/scp file transfer. ability to automate via command line. logging capable eraser - permentatly erase files. sourceforge project 7-zip - free file archiver, command line available

goofytek
goofytek

http://moz.execulink.net/~goofytek has links ro 4 iitems Highly Recmmended DiskMax c;leans more than all others, Cleansup Windows Update garbage it finds 480MB after others have finished cleaning Easy Cleaner has Regstry ^ Junk Files & Startup llisyt etc, tabs NTREGOPT optimiss registry making it run faster Vopt9 is fastest Defragmenter but its not Free bye retired Techie Keith

alfowler
alfowler

I have used Acronis True Image for some years, but with my dual boot Windows Linux systems, Redo Backup and Recovery can image whatever OS I choose.

peralot
peralot

I tend to gravitate to open source solutions whenever I can. If there is a free program that works comparably as well as a retail program, why not? For example: -I use puTTY instead of buying a telnet/SSH app. -I use Auslogics Disk Defrag instead of Diskkeeper. -I use SuperAntispyware for spyware detenction and removal. -I used to use Avast antivirus instead of McAffee or Norton antivirus, but have now moved to Microsoft Security Essentials. -I use TeamViewer for remote access and support. There are two websites that I watch regularly to find new or updated open-source or free programs: http://techsupportalert.com has a semi-regularly updated freeware program list. http://sourceforge.net is the repository for a great deal of open-source projects. Of course, some things are retail packages - I use Microsoft Office instead of Open Office, since the company I work for has strict guidelines about their office software. However, whenever I can get a decent open-source application that can do the job, I use it.

info
info

As with most of you, I have tried many different backup solutions. I have now settled on Acronis TrueImage (even though it is not a free app) and the latest version 11 is brill. It can do complete system Images, snapshots, continuous backups as well as create a boot partition to which backups or images can be made. Also, the Seagate BlackArmor NAS 2TB or 4TB appliance includes a 5 user oem licence of TrueImage. It's definitely worth it. Pips Sandhu

TelcoChuck
TelcoChuck

I have never found an affordable utility that does the same things as spinrite for drive maintenance or data recovery. The short of it, it just works! I use it periodically on my drives for a "surface refresh" and I haven't had problems with drives failing.

sbosque
sbosque

agent ransack: to search specific strings within files/directories audacity: to edit/convert audio files beyond compare: to compare files/directories currport: to identify/kill processes/ports diffpdf: to compare pdf files idisk: to identify the largest directory/files on a drive process explorer pstools: sysinternals catalog of utilites teracopy: to copy of large files unlockit: to identify/kill processes locking files/directories

ian
ian

You are looking at CCleaner - Premium Support ($24.95) Look below at Version 3.09.1493 (3,366 kb) - Download from FileHippo.com - Download from Piriform.com Click on one of the downloads.

GreatZen
GreatZen

I'm sure many of your tools (to which no one else even alluded) are helpful. To say "Top 10..." while clearly pimping products of the company for whom you work is totally inappropriate without the standard disclosure.

Shadeburst
Shadeburst

I worked with some serious space cadets on a large commercial software project for a private bank and in their idle time they used to hack into other systems, just for fun. Software firewalls held them up for maybe a minute. The only firewall they considered a worthy opponent was a hardware firewall.

NEDDOT
NEDDOT

Hi Bill, Guess you did not test crossloop with the limitation of internet speeds? As expected with VNC-based products, crossloop has poor graphics quality and speed performance. Teamviewer copes very well with lower internet speeds and the graphics quality stays close to native. The fact that the customer does not need to install anything with Teamviewer - just drop it on desktop, execute it and call-in the access-code and password was important part of our selection. Anything VNC turned out to be sluggish with poor graphics until now, unless you stay within your LAN with it of course.

rosshiuk
rosshiuk

please do yourself a big favour and get rid of security essentials and go back to Avast, you'll be glad you did..... I deal with many many machine that were runninMicrosoft'sts security essentials, alspy-warere ridden, somabsolutelyly crippled, Avast on the other hand deals with most of the nasties thrown at it, I also advise the combined use of at least two of the following; Ca yahoo anti-savailableable with the US version of the yahoo toolbar. Emsisoft Anti-malware - finds traces other leave behind Malwarebytes Superantispyware Iobit malware fighter - this one still beta, so some false positives I would also recommend; McAfees Siteadvisor and AVG link Scanner for safer surfing stay clon-lined safe online cheers

mckinnej
mckinnej

This is a great set of tools for all sorts of storage maintenance. It is a bootable Linux system with outstanding support. The cornerstone piece is GParted which lets you do all sorts of storage partition voodoo. Besides that it has a host of other apps such as disk imagers, backup/recovery, and on and on. I find something new every time I poke around in it. I can't say enough good about it. It is a "must have" for me. The fact that it is open source is icing on the cake. If I had 3 thumbs they would all be up for this one.

sammy.mah
sammy.mah

I have used Acronis - very good. I also use Clonezilla - works great! Disk to Disk Imaging, Disk to File then File to Disk, even has network cloning (file to multiple computers - at the same time). This works great for non windows systems as a way to backup drives to a file system. Also boots from USB, CD/DVD, or network.

cmrpm
cmrpm

I've used audacity and a number of tools from sysinternals. Audacity is a great, easy-to-use audio converter and pretty much never had a complaint about what sysinternals puts out.

vmars316
vmars316

agent ransack, amen! to that I keep it open when i am programming to search my examples & keywords vmars316

GreatZen
GreatZen

I use UltraVNC for encrypted remote support over slow connections and the critical factor is installation of the mirror driver. With the mirror driver, graphics are responsive and effective, even at dial-up speeds (at lower colors for dial-up). Without the mirror driver, anything other than a LAN connection is painful if it's usable at all. The mirror driver installation is a mere check box on the installation package (which should be run as admin on Vista/Win7).

NEDDOT
NEDDOT

btw TeamViewer used to be based on parts of VNC until version 2 but from version 3 became totally incompatible with VNC and closed source. Guess something similar to Graphon's Go-global Rapid-X protocol.

gechurch
gechurch

I have to agree with peralot on this one. Many web sites test lots of AV software for detection rates and MSE is consistently up in the top few. I agree with you on Malwarebytes and Supwerantispyware. They were my two go-to tools when I used to do a lot of desktop work.

Shadeburst
Shadeburst

My two favorite Unix tools were awk and grep. Awk does string replacement and file rebuilding. Grep is like Windows "Search" only ten times more powerful. If Ransack works like grep then I'll give it a try! Thanks.