Utilities software – more ‘little’ programs
More utilities, more of the best free software, and with good reason; it’s easy to spend far too long looking for just the right program to deal with a specific need. These pages might just save you a bit of valuable time, and introduce you to some excellent software.
Most of them are freeware. A few of them are shareware (you’re expected to pay a modest fee, but only after a free trial period). And some are open source software – that is, the code is available to improve upon, if you have the necessary skills.
If you want to store files on your computer in complete privacy, and with complete security, you could do a lot worse than use TrueCrypt. This open-source software is the real deal. It creates a virtual encrypted disk within a file and mounts it as a real disk (okay, I don’t really know what that means either)!
As for the security level, the encryption in TrueCrypt is literally as good as it gets. You can rest assured that when you store something in TrueCrypt, no-one can find it, and even if they did they couldn’t break the encryption, not with all the computing power in the world (unless they were given enough time, which would probably be measured in years).
Once the file is ‘mounted’ (i.e. opened) you can use it like any other file. You can read it, view it, add to it, copy from it, etc. Read the documentation and you’ll see that TrueCrypt is seriously safe software. If you’ve stored something important using TrueCrypt, I’m not sure the FBI or the CIA working together could get hold of it!
I had to think twice about where to put this – it’s a fantastic utility, but it could also be at home in the Security software section. Take your pick! The quality of this utility puts it right up there with the best free software.
Free, open source software, but donations accepted.
If you have any ebooks and you want to organise them, Calibre is the program you need. This program will organise your books professionally, downloading the metadata (author, rating, synopsis, etc) from the Web, if you choose, or you can do it by hand.
You can load a book to read it in Calibre, or load it onto your ebook device (Kindle, Nook, or whatever). It will also convert from one format to another if necessary. Whatever needs doing on the ebook front, Calibre takes care of it!
Free, open source software. Very useful, and, like a few others on this page, among the best free software you can find.
Everything seems to need another password, and remembering them all is a major headache for most people. Part of the problem is that we tend to settle for simple passwords so that they’re easy to remember, or, worse still, we just use the one password for everything.
Of course, if someone discovers (or cracks) that one password, they then have access to everything in your online life. Everything!
From the download site: ” Password Safe allows you to safely and easily create a secured and encrypted user name/password list. With Password Safe all you have to do is create and remember a single “Master Password” of your choice in order to unlock and access your entire user name/password list”.
Password Safe. Very simple, Very convenient. The way software should be.
Freeware, but donations accepted.
The password you use to open LastPass is the the last password you’ll ever need! That’s the claim of this software. LastPass is a really elaborate password manager, and it does its job really well, although I’m tending to use Password Safe more and more these days. With LastPass, you can logon to all your sites automatically, with a single mouse click. And all your data is safely encrypted locally on your computer, so that YOU are the only one who can unlock it.
With LastPass, you can create secure notes in which you keep full details of all your accounts and the sites that you visit. It’s a brilliant system, but I think I prefer the simplicity of Password Safe. Either one though is an answer to the ever-present problem of how to keep track of all your passwords.
LastPass is freeware, but there’s a premium version available.
AMP Font Viewer
This small utility lets you view all your fonts, whether they’re installed or not. AMP Font Vieweralso lets you install and uninstall fonts, and organise them in categories. No more scouring your hard drive for your fonts when you want to find them, and no more guessing what they actually look like.
AMP Font Viewer is an easy-to-use and well designed font manager, and if you find yourself making use of various fonts from time to time, for whatever reason, it’s as well to have AMP Font Viewer installed to take care of things.
Freeware, but they won’t refuse donations!
Boilsoft Video Splitter
If you want to split a video file into smaller parts you need something that does the job reliably. Unfortunately, some software fails in this respect! Boilsoft Video Splitter is possibly the most efficient and fastest video splitter available, and with zero image quality loss. It’s very user-friendly, deals with various file formats, and handles large files with ease.
With Boilsoft Video Splitter you can split video files very accurately, using the built-in player to see what you’re working on, and you can see the resultant clips measured by size (Mb and Kb), or duration (minutes and seconds). You can even specify the number of clips and it will take over from there, splitting the file into x number of equal-sized clips.
Unfortunately, not free.
Boilsoft Video Joiner
Splitting video files is one thing, and often necessary to trim the boring bits from your filming efforts! But if you want to combine your efforts to produce a truly masterful piece of work, you’ll also need a really good video joiner.
As long as the files are the same format and with the same properties, this can be done quickly and easily with Boilsoft Video Joiner.
As long as the file formats are the same, the program will merge AVI clips, as well as MPEG, VOB, MK4 and other file types.
Again, you have to buy this software.
Did you ever wish you could show someone exactly what the problem was with your computer? Some things are difficult to explain, but if you could just record the screen action when the problem occurs… mmm …
That’s where CamStudio comes in! It can record all screen activity on your computer, and audio, and turn it into a qualilty AVI video file. Now you can show someone what the problem is, instead of trying to explain it! Plus you can use it to demonstrate things, create tutorials, create information-based products, and more.
The most amazing feature of this clever little piece of software is that it’s free! That’s right, CamStudio is free! Hard to believe that something like this is freely available, but it’s a fact. I’ve hardly used it myself, to be honest, but what I’ve seen of it has impressed me. Definitely among the best free software available.
Freeware, donations accepted.
Eusing Registry Cleaner
There are registry cleaners included in other programs (e.g. CCleaner), but this one is a dedicated registry cleaner. It’s a simple program, and all you have to do is select the section(s) you want to scan (which will typically be the entire hard drive, but can be any folders you choose). You then click on ‘Scan registry issue’, which starts the scanning procedure. When that’s finished, just click on ‘Repair registry issue’, and Eusing Registry Cleaner gets to work fixing all the registry problems. Quick, slick, dependable.
Incidentally, this company has a whole host of programs for specific tasks, and many of them (or even all of them??) are available at no cost.
It’s all very well taking care to use your computer sensibly and making the best use of all this very effective software, but if you don’t keep your work backed up you could lose the lot. The best insurance you can have for when things go badly wrong with your computer is to have a mirror image of the entire thing.
DriveImage XML does this for you. It creates an image of your operating system, including all drivers, settings and software applications, and it can even create this while you’re still using it!
Once you create your drive image, make sure it’s kept on a series of disks, or better still, on an external hard drive. This Lifehacker page has a very good rundown of how it works and how you should operate it. And if you’d like to see a video posted on YouTube by the makers, just take a look below.
TrueCrypt, Calibre, Password Safe, LastPass, AMP Font Viewer, CamStudio, Eusing Registry Cleaner and DriveImage XML are all freeware programs. Boilsoft Video Splitter and Boilsoft Video Joiner both require a license.
>> Software links in the sidebar >>