As you can probably tell, when I’m not watching hockey and football or playing with my kids, I like to tinker with my computer. I have come across several utilities recently (thanks mainly to Lifehacker and other geeks) and I thought I’d share them with you.
- TeraCopy – My new best friend. I have LONG thought that the regular Windows copy utility is idiotic. If it fails, you have to try and figure out where it left off to retry (or copy over everything again). Teracopy has automatic retry, and will skip a problem file and continue on. You are then presented with a list of failed files to retry after you fix the underlying issue. You can have it replace the normal Windows file copy dialog so normal operation is seamless. And oh yeah, it speeds up file transfers a good bit as well.
- MyDefrag – Used to be known as JkDefrag. Unlike other defrag utilities, there’s no dialog box with checkboxes. You simply run one of the included scripts for what you want to do, and you can do a LOT. Plain ol’ defragment, optimize the locations of files on disk, and so on. The real power is for tinkerers, who can customize scripts to do all sorts of things (the Lifehacker post linked mentioned moving all your mp3s together, for example. Honorable mention to Auslogics Disk Defrag for a more traditional alternative to the default Windows defragmenting solution.
- Auslogics Duplicate File Finder – Depending on how organized you are, this may or may not be that big of a help, but I love it. Too often I forget that I’ve already off-loaded the camera, or copied those files off, or my wife repeats my effort so I end up with multiple copies. This does exactly what it says, and finds those dupes.
- 7-zip – The current champ in file compression/expansion. For those of you who got annoyed with the crap Winzip was giving you. Unzips those .7z files you may have seen. Solid interface, all the integration you expect.
- CCleaner – For Crap Cleaner. A very handy way to clean the cache/cookies on all your browsers, Windows temp files, old log files, memory dumps from crashes, and the like. My favorite feature, however, is the Registry cleaning aspect. CCleaner can find all the random .dll files loading and taking up resources that you don’t need any more, things like HP printer files that load at startup despite the fact you no longer have the printer. Can improve speed quite a bit on older systems that have been unformatted for a long time.
- VLC Media Player – If you’ve ever done the ‘no codec could be found’ dance for a video you are trying to watch, VLC is for you. Plays most everything, including DVDs when you don’t have a true decoder installed. Very handy.
There you have it, a good start at the stuff I currently install on my Windows Vista machine to make it do what I want the way I want. I may follow up with more stuff, and if you have any questions or suggestions, comment away!