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Free Software for Windows

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If you have Windows, here's a list of great, free software programs - all of which are free of spyware and adware - that I like to use, and others that I don't use, but are great too.

Install one of the download accelerators below first, to speed up the following downloads, and prevent having to download again after losing your Internet connection.

Then use the four software optimizers listed below to speed up your computer and keep it from slowing down in the future. Better yet, switch to Mac OS or GNU/Linux and you'll have no need for such programs.

Contents:


Download Accelerators

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Optimizers

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The following are free and commercial software that either block or erase temporary files and malicious scripts that tend to slow your computer down.

DIRMS (Do It Right Microsoft) and Buzzsaw - DIRMS plugin for BartPE or better yet Ultimate Boot CD for Windows | skip
(possibly the very best defragmenters for Windows NT4, 2000 and XP, partly because Buzzsaw defragments in the background on-the-fly, that is, as files fragment - free for personal use - the author claims they do a better job than Diskeeper, O & O Defrag, PerfectDisk and Windows' defragmenter)

Note: DIRMS and Buzzsaw won't run in Windows 95, 98 or Me, or in GNU/Linux.

Note: You can prevent most system and application file fragmentation if you put 1)the virtual memory file (called a swap file - WIN386.swp - in Windows 95, 98 and Me, and a page or paging file - pagefile.sys - in Windows 2000 and XP), 2)temporary Internet files, 3)e-mail and 4)downloads on a partition or hard drive separate from Windows, set the memory file's minimum and maximum size limits to the same size, and put your applications and documents on a third partition or hard drive to prevent fragmentation and limit file corruption.

Defragment your hard drive once a week to extend its life, minimize errors and if you have an older, slower hard drive, improve performance.

WARNING: Using a defragmenter before securely erasing private data, moves that data to other locations, making it easier to recover. If you have sensitive data, use an erasers / wipers / shredders first!

ATTENTION: DIRMS and Buzzsaw now come in a service/GUI version that includes an installer (DirMS-S and Buzzsaw-S - DIRMS also comes in a command line version, DirMS-CL). The service/GUI version currently requires either an ethernet connection or the Microsoft Loopback Adapter, to work. (see the DIRMS and Buzzsaw forums to learn more)

If you choose to use the Microsoft Loopback Adapter, you'll need to enable ''Client for Microsoft Networks'' and ''File and Printer Sharing'' in the Loopback connection for DIRMS and Buzzsaw to recognize your machine and for the Register button to appear.

WARNING: Enabling ''Client for Microsoft Networks'' and ''File and Printer Sharing'' on a computer not connected to a network, unnecessarily opens two security holes through which the computer can be attacked.

DIRMS and Buzzsaw also come in three versions: free unregistered, free registered and commercial. The free unregistered versions have limited functionality: they don't defrag most system files. The free registered versions have full functionality and must be re-registered (for free) on the DIRMS web site every 30 days (click on the Evaluate button). And the commercial versions have full functionality and don't require re-registration.

If you want the free versions but don't want to have to register them every month, use the older versions.

If you're using one of the supported operating systems, here are the official instructions for using DIRMS and Buzzsaw.

Here's what I do:

To use DIRMS: | skip

  1. I extract the executable, nonservice / nonGUI DirMS-CL file to my C drive, without creating a folder. If you prefer using the service/GUI version, just click on the setup files to install them where you like.
  2. I run DIRMS-CL at shutdown with the following commands in a batch file.
    • dirms c (assumes you've put dirms.exe in the C drive)
    • dirms c compact
    • Repeat for each drive or partition, if you have more than one.
    • If you don't run it at shutdown, I recommend loading Windows in Safe Mode so that system files, as well as nonsystem files, can be defragmented, and problems can be avoided that can occur when defragmenting in regular mode (press the F5 button repeatedly when starting or restarting your computer);
    • I log in and click Start;
    • click Run;
    • type cmd and press Enter or Return;
    • in the window that pops up (it has a black background), it says C:\Documents and Settings\ACCOUNT NAME>, so...
      • I type cd \ to get the main C prompt and press Enter or Return. (If you see the C:\> prompt by itself with no text after it, you can skip this part)
    • I type dirms c to defragment C drive and press Enter or Return;
    • and when it's done defragmenting,
    • I type dirms c compact, not to compact the files, but to minimize the space between the files, and press Enter or Return;
    • then I type exit and press Enter or Return, or click the X, to close the window.

Note: I don't use the -q (quick) command because the quick defragmentation isn't as thorough.

To use Buzzsaw: | skip

WARNING: Going online in the default Windows account, which unfortunately is the administrator account, isn't safe. I strongly recommend being safe and urge you to create a Limited User account, secure Windows and do your usual daily work - especially going online - in your Limited User account.

I also recommend running DIRMS just before logoff or shutdown instead of running Buzzsaw in Windows. It avoids the security risks associated with Buzzsaw-S and the necessity to run the earlier nonservice version in a Limited User account via a utility like Runas that allows you to run a program as the administrator.

The service/GUI version of Buzzsaw doesn't require administrator rights because as the author says, it runs as a service with SYSTEM permissions. So it'll work just fine in a Limited User account.

ATTENTION: The service/GUI version currently requires an ethernet connection or a Microsoft Loopback Adapter, ''Client for Microsoft Networks'' and ''File and Printer Sharing'' on a computer not connected to a network, which unnecessarily opens two security holes.

None of these are required with the earlier nonservice version of Buzzsaw, but that version requires administrator access. Nevertheless I strongly recommend using the earlier nonservice version instead in a Limited User account when online to keep your computer and data secure.

If in spite of the risk you want to use the earlier nonservice version in your default administrator account (not recommended!), or want to run it in a Limited User account via one of the utilities that allow you to run a program as the administrator, such as Runas, follow these steps:

  1. Start Buzzsaw;
  2. double-click on Buzzsaw's tray icon;
  3. wait a while until the letter for your hard drive(s) appear(s) under Available Drives (ex.: C);
  4. click on the drive(s) you want defragmented;
  5. click the right arrow button (-->) to move your hard drive(s) to the Watching Drives list.; and...
  6. click the X to close the window (this doesn't stop Buzzsaw).

I recommend defragmenting your hard drive with DIRMS first.

Then always run Buzzsaw in the background (right-click the Buzzsaw file and create a shortcut, then put the shortcut in the Startup folder to run it every time).

And run DIRMS once a week, to keep your computer running as fast as possible, and to minimize errors.

If you need more information about or help with DIRMS or Buzzsaw, check out the Help guides and the Forums.

PageDefrag
(a great little page file defragmenter)
Set it to defragment the page file at every bootup.

NTREGOPT (a registry optimizer for Windows NT/2000/2003/XP)

An Eraser / Wiper / Shredder skip

If you surf the Internet a lot, unnecessary files build up very quickly. Run an eraser daily to remove them securely and keep your computer from slowing down.

If you have or have had private, sensitive data on your hard drive, be sure to also use an eraser to securely erase old, private files, remnants of private files you've deleted, and ever-growing index.dat files. skip

Or, if you have nothing to hide and don't need to make Web surfing history virtually unrecoverable, clear your browser's cache and AutoComplete data.

A Registry Cleaner (click Expand All to find free cleaners) | skip

Over time, Windows' registry accumulates outdated and unnecessary data that slows down your computer. Run a registry cleaner / system optimizer often to clean it.

WARNING: Using a registry cleaner may corrupt and disable Windows. Always back up your registry before cleaning it, just in case. To be even safer, create a disk image with one of the following software:

NOTE: Windows Experts recommend avoiding registry cleaners and occasionally doing a clean install of Windows instead.


Other Software

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Web Sites with Spyware and Adware-free Software

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Web Sites with Rated Freeware

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Windows XP Maintenance, Optimization and Update Resources

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Did you make Windows, GNU/Linux or Mac OS X sufficiently secure before using it? And are you using security software to minimize the risks to your computer and your privacy? If not, but you'd like to learn more, check out my Security & Privacy page.


Need to find out what your kids have been up to online? Or your spouse? Get one of the following online history viewers. skip


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