Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Favorite "Free" Vista Utilities

Name & Website

What it does

Why its good for Vista

Why its free

Secunia PSI

Helps you secure Windows XP and Vista by ensuring that all programs are up to date. Scans your PC for all installed programs, provides information related to the current installed version and well as the current published version.

Many programs and utilities required some level of updating to provide compatibility with Vista. In addition, it is great at finding duplicate programs that you might not even know that you have.

Personal edition (PSI) is free, however there is also a commercial Network-aware version targeted towards corporations.

Tags: Security, Application Stability, Performance

Driver Detective

Helps keep Windows XP and Vista running smoothly by scanning your PC for installed hardware and validating that you have the most recent device driver installed.

Driver compatibility has been one of the chief complaints with Windows Vista. While Windows Update will find “some” updates, Driver Detective does a much more through job of finding outdated and missing drivers.

The scanning part is free, however in order to view details of the problems that Driver Detective finds and to automatically install solutions, registration is required.

Tags: Security, OS Stability, Performance

TweakNow RegCleaner Standard

Finds and removes obsolete registry entries in both Windows XP and Vista. This helps keep Windows running fast and without issues.

Post-Vista upgrade, there will almost certainly be some leftovers in your registry. In addition, if you are shareware/freeware junkie like me, you may have installed more then a few unscrupulous or poorly written apps that can be challenging to completely remove.

While they are not obnoxious about it, Tweaknow would love you to upgrade to RegCleaner Pro for $26.95. The Pro version sports a an enhanced scanning engine, a registry defragmenter and a 1-click optimization function.

Tags: Security, OS Stability, Performance

Auslogics Registry Defrag

After years of installing and removing programs, not to mention after running your RegCleaner, your registry file will eventually contain large gaps which can negatively impact system performance

After running TweakNow RegCleaner Standard, a defrag is the next logical step.

While TweakNow gives away RegCleaner for free and would like you to pay for post cleaning defragmentation in the Pro version, Auslogics does the exact opposite. Take advantage of both free tools and save some cash.

Tags: Security, OS Stability, Performance

Auslogics Disk Defrag

Your hard disks is the slowest component in your computer. Microsoft still trails behind OSX and Linux with respect to automated defragmentation of the HD. The bottom line is that the built-in Windows Defrag utility still sucks. It is slow and not particularly through.

For years I used Diskeeper Pro, most notably because of its “Set It and Forget It” Screen saver mode. Alas my version (8.0) is not compatible with Vista. I just can’t force myself to part with $49 for the 10.0 upgrade.

While it lacks a Screen Saver mode, I will continue to use this for the time being.

Auslogics gives you both Registry Defrag and Disk Defrag in order to persuade you to buy Auslogics BoostSpeed for $29.95.

Tags: Security, OS Stability, Performance

Avast! Antivirus Home Edition

Award winning, fast, non-intrusive, and free virus protection, need I say more? All that Avast! requires is that you register with a valid email address and revalidate annually.

After years of frustration with the performance of both Norton and McAfee, I stumbled upon Avast! And never looked back.

While the Home edition of Avast! Is free, the Pro version will set you back $39.95 per year.

Tags: Antivirus

7-Zip File Manager

Manages archives of nearly any format (ZIP, TAR, RAR, CAP, etc.)

Faster then the included Windows Vista compressed folders, also provides compatibility with formats beyond ZIP.

Open Source

Tags: Archive, Zip, File Compression

DAEMON Tools Lite

Free CD/DVD Emulation. Make a backup (ISO) copy of your CDs, then store them in a safe place. When you need to run something from one of the CDs, mount the ISO image on a virtual CD.

Works with both XP and Vista

While the Lite version is free, they would like you to upgrade to the Pro version.

Tags: Virtual CD, Virtual DVD, ISO


The Free FTP solution, provides an excellent FTP file download utility.

Works with both XP and Vista. The built-in ftp capabilities of Internet Explorer prohibit management of user profiles and have no ability to pause and resume downloads.

Open Source

Tags: FTP, Download

PDF Creator

Create PDF files using a virtual printer driver

Works with both XP and Vista

Open Source

Tags: Document Management, Paperless Office

PDF Tools

Allows you join, split, stamp, create and rearrange a PDF files

The User Interface leaves something to be desired but it works with both XP and Vista

While PDF Tools is closed source, Sheel Khanna wrote this free app in his spare time, just for the fame and glory.

Tags: Document Management, Paperless Office

Foxit Reader

Lightweight and fast PDF Reader. Highly compatible with the standard Adobe Reader and super fast! 2.5 MB download versus 27 MB, need I say more?

Works with both XP and Vista

The Foxit Reader is free, however they would like you to purchase the Foxit Reader Pro Pack, Form Designer, PDF Creator and Editor and prices ranging from $35 - $99.

Tags: Document Management, Paperless Office

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