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Software Recommendations

We often get asked what's the "best" software for some specific purpose. Here's the general consensus among channel operators.

But in the end, "best" is a highly personal thing. Our recommendations reflect our personal choices in non-professional, at-home situations. We encourage everyone to experiment and find their own personal "best". All of these recommendations come at no cost to home users, unless noted.

  • Antivirus/antimalware
    • If you're running Windows 8, Windows Defender is builtin. 
    • For XP, Vista, and Win7, we recommend Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). It was renamed to Windows Defender in Win8.
      • MSE/Defender regularly get good scores on third party detection tests, and rarely if ever give false alarms. And, we think it's important that once configured, they quietly keep themselves updated, not bothering you until your attention is actually needed. We consider them to be great protection for anyone who is already following basic security practices.
  • Keeping Software Up To Date
    • We recommend running Secunia PSI from time to time, to make sure all of your software (not just Windows) is as secure and up-to-date as possible.
  • Backup Software
    • Local backups
      • Windows has built-in backup abilities. See our pages on Win7 and Win8 backup.
      • Easus Todo Backup is well regarded, but costs $29.
      • Easus does link a free version of their product here, but they seem to be de-emphasising it. We're not sure how long this link will last.
    • Cloud backups
      • Some of us keep all of our important personal data in OneDrive which easily syncs a local folder to Microsoft servers and any other PCs you happen to have. The first 15GB are free; you can add storage for a yearly fee.
      • There are other 3rd party solutions.  Use something to protect your data. 
  • Web Browser
    • Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Opera ... web browser choice is often hotly contested. We say: try them all. Make your own choice.
  • Password Manager
    • LastPass
    • Some people worry about the cloud storage aspect of LastPass (though network access is not required to retrieve passwords). For these people, we recommend KeePass.
  • PDF Viewing
    • Win8 includes the Metro Reader app, which is fine for simple PDF viewing.
    • For XP, Vista, and Win7, we recommend Foxit Reader
    • Mindful of Adobe's epic security difficulties over the last decade, we suggest you avoid Adobe Reader.
  • Text Editor
  • Image Editing
  • Disk/partition Imaging
  • Disk space visualization
  • ISO image mounting
  • ISO image recording/creation
  • SSH Daemon
  • SSH/telnet Client
  • Scripting
  • Audio/Video
    • VLC is a one-stop shop for all your video and audio watching and listening needs. It includes all the codecs most people will ever need.
    • For simple video editing, Windows Live Movie Maker is free and easily acquired.
    • For screencasting, we recommend Screencast-o-Matic.
  • Remote Support
  • System/Registry Cleanup
    • We don't feel that "registry cleaning" serves any real purpose. But a lot of people like CCleaner for general system cleanup of temp files, recycle bin, web history, etc. It does include a registry cleaner, if you are so inclined.
  • IRC Client
  • Create a Windows Flash USB drive on Linux from ISO
    • WinUSB - You will need to follow directions as ##windows does not support Linux.
    • WoeUSBYou will need to follow directions as ##windows does not support Linux.