My Personal Recommendations
Published on December 25, 2006 By Larry Kuperman In Personal Computing
You can run a safe, secure PC on a limited budget. These are my personal favorites, hopefully readers will contribute more based on their experiences.

Firefox 2 has to be on the list. I use several browsers and I know people have strong preferences, but I still recommend Firefox. Tabbed browsing is now mainstream, with the introduction of IE7, but Firefox still gets the nod, in my opinion. It has a slight edge for security, again in my opinion. You can get it here: Link

AVG Anti-Virus Free is still number one in my book. It is a full featured anti-virus program with a small footprint and is easy to use. It includes automatic updates and real-time file and e-mail scanning. You can get it for free at Link

Adaware SE and Spybot continue to be the premier programs for spyware detection and removal. I prefer the user interface for Adaware, but either is a good choice. You can download Adaware SE from

Firewalls provide another layer of protection from Trojans and malware. In the past I have recommended Zonealarm's free version, but this year I am going with Comodo. Several reviewers tested the application head to head and Comodo was found to be superior. You can download the free version from Link

Over time, temporary files accumulate on your PC, degrading performance. CCleaner is a utility that removes temporary files from your PC, features a Registry cleaner and an uninstaller. Its a nice little add-on. You can download it for free from Link

Once your PC is cleaned of unnecessary files, you should Defrag. Of course Windows has a built-in defragmentation utility, but I have found AusLogic's free defrag utility faster. You can download it from Link

If you just want a viewer with rudimentary editing capabilities (like crop or cut) IrfanView is the grand-daddy of them all. It is a tried-and-true solution. You can get it at Link

If you want a high-end program for creating and manipulating images, try Paint.Net. Here's the link: Link

Movie Viewers and Codecs
Ever try to play a movie on your PC and been unable to do so? Here are some suggestions.
The VideoLan VLC media player gets high reviews. Personally, I have always found the interface hard to use, but if you want to try it you can get it at Link

I prefer Zoom Player standard, which does everything that I want for movies (and works with my Logitech remote control.) You can download the free version from Link

I personally use the K-Lite Codec pack from Link This pack adds functionality to Windows Media Player (or WinAmp or ZoomPlayer or whatever) and also includes the Media Player Classic application.

The Free-Codec site also offers Real Alternative at Link and a QuickTime alternative at

Portable Apps Suite
If you own a USB drive and it is U3 compliant, you can take your virtual office with you with the U3 software suite. See

That is it for now. I am sure that I missed some things, hopefully you will contribute your favorite apps.

on Dec 26, 2006
That is a really nice list.
on Dec 27, 2006
Thanks, Static. It is my hope that it will help some people.

Best of the Holiday Season to all.
on Dec 27, 2006
yes, nice list.

might have to bump it once in a while until more people get back from holidays and get a chance to see it.
on Dec 27, 2006
Great list Larry.  Thanks for sharing.

on Dec 27, 2006
Thanks Larry

Here's a few from my collection.....mostly utilities

System Information for Windows (SIW) Link
Tells you everything about your static computer you could possibly want to know.

Whats Running Link
Real time look at what programs are running, startup files, processes etc.

Chrono Shutdown Link
Unattended shutdown/restart.

Cobian Backup Link
Great Backup Utility

Sizer Link
Lets you control the size of program windows.

XMLFox Link
XML editor...great for those of us who can't code

Sysmetrix Link
My all-time favorite system monitor. Easy to skin.

Desktask Link
Shows your Outlook Calendar and Tasks right on your desktop.

A.F.5. Rename Your Files Link
I've used a lot of file renamers and this ones the best I've come across.

HydraIRC Link
My choice for IRC

The Godfather Link
The absolute best music organizer out there.

Omega Drivers Link
ATI or Nvidia.......these are THE tweaked video drivers

WindowpaperXP Link
Lets you add wallpaper to explorer windows.

Faststone Image Viewer Link
I take a LOT of photos and couldn't live without this program.

Neat Image Link
If your a Photographer you'll want to buy the full version.

Many of the above links I originally got from someone else here. Thanks
There are some I didn't include because they just too common like Winamp, CursorXP, Yahoo Widgets (Konfabulator), Desktop Sidebar, Samurize, etc.

on Dec 27, 2006
ooh free favorite

um XNview is a lot better than irfanview on many fronts, i used to use irfanview until i heard about it
on Dec 27, 2006
Here's a handy little media player that's quite functional....JetAudio rips; burns; converts audio files; creates audio CD's; has sound effects and more. WWW Link
on Dec 28, 2006
Very nice additions, Lantec and Starkers. Thanks.

Threi, if you get a chance to post more about XnView vs. IrfanView, I would appreciate it. BTW, the home page for anyone looking to try XnView is Link

on Dec 28, 2006
well i uninstalled irfanview but XNview did everything irfanview did, with less resource usage in my opinion

um some features that stand out for me are

- HLS (Hue, Saturation, Lighting) Editing
- Browser (Irfanview has one too but this is more in-depth)
- Batch Converting/Editing (I use this feature to recolour classic winamp skins )

Besides that its pretty much similar to Irfanview (but with a better GUI)
on Dec 28, 2006
Currently Adobe Labs has a program called Lightroom in Beta. It's free until Feb 14 and I have to say it's amazing.

If your a professional or serious photographer you should check it out. Works with RAW files......even the new Sony .arw files my Alpha makes. It's Workflow and File Management in a whole new way. The target price is supposed to come in between $100-130 when v1 is released.

If your on dsl or cable I'd recommend watching the movie.

Adobe Lightroom Link
on Dec 28, 2006
Nice defragger. Thanks Kupe.
on Dec 28, 2006
Here's a few of my favorite freewares

Opera (best browser on the planet IMHO)

FastStone Image Capture (it will actually capture alpha-blended objects on the desktop)

FastStone Image Viewer (it would be perfect if it recognized .psp/pspimage formats)

ColorPic4 (color picker, and magnifier)

Foxit Reader (I don't really like PDF's, but if I must read them, at least Foxit is MUCH faster than Adobe's Reader)

ZipGenius (my favorite feature is the ability to open muliple archives in tabs)

EULAlyzer (who reads those wordy, multi-paragraghed EULA's, presented in those tiny windows? This proggy does it for you, and flags anything suspicious)

FontFrenzy (font manager)

CDBurnerXP Pro

NoteTab Light (more than a tabbed notepad)

Quintessential Media Player

UnClean (means Uninstall Cleanly ...... much faster to load than Add/Remove Programs. A PC Mag utility)

Starter (startup manager, process manager, and Services manager in one)

I'm not providing links (too lazy at the moment)... all these apps are easily found using your favorite search engine.
on Dec 28, 2006
oh yeah i forgot about foxit reader...

i beleive 7zip is free also...
on Dec 28, 2006
Oh, thanks again.

Starter is new to me, but seems useful Here is a link: Link

Here is a link for the PC Mag review of UnClean: Link