I hate to think how many computers I’ve built and installed over the years. I’ve found that there are a core set of utilities that I keep coming back to that I’ve found really useful on most installs. As I only use some of them infrequently I thought I’d put together a list so that in future I don’t forget any, perhaps this list will be useful for you as well.
UPDATE: I forgot about this page and accidentally put together a very similar (and better) list here.
Windows has come with a zip utility for a while now but quite frankly it’s useless. 7-zip is simpler, quicker and handles more compression and decompression options. If you need every last drop of space you can even use the 7-zip format which compresses a fair bit better than zip.
There are a few good text editors out there but my personal favourite is Notepad++. The main application is still getting fairly regular updates but the plugins don’t seem to have seen changes for a while. It’s just a great editor.
This is a fairly new one on the list but it’s proven invaluable for bulk renaming files. It can even read meta-data from inside a lot of common file formats and use that to name the file. Free for non-commercial use with some minor limitations.
This is quite an old application that hasn’t been updated in a while but it still works fine. Essentially it gives you a graphical overview of the size of the files and folders on your machine. Very useful when you find you’re running low on drive space.
Occasionally I find myself needing to transcode a video file (e.g. convert it from one format to another) and there’s no easier way to do it than HandBrake. The most common use I find for it is converting ripped DVD’s into MP4 files but it’ll also convert old 3GP files.
When you need to check for broken links in web pages you want a tool that just gets in there and does the job with no messing. Xenu is old now but it still does the best job of any of the link checkers I’ve used.
If you ever need to do a screen capture type video you’ll want a tool like this. I checked out a whole host of options before settling on this one as the most ok of the lot. The full application is pay-for but there’s also a free version which is feature rich enough to basic tasks done.
If you need a free office suite this is the one to go for.
If you want to download anything through Torrent then Deluge is one of the better clients out there.