Essential and recommended software

Below is a list I started in 1995. It’s my sublimation of Personal Computer experience, I update this list quite regularly, feel free to bookmark ;-)
Not everyone will need everything on it, and I use a lot more software than the stuff mentioned here, but this is the software I’m more than happy to know, use and really approve of. Sharing this knowledge would be a good idea, I guess.

for Windows o.s.

  • Total Commander (Christian Ghisler) – it’s in my startup-folder, explorer users don’t know what they’re missing, who needs bloated Winzip or WS-ftp?
  • 7zip plugin for TotalCommander! Many other great plugins for TC.
  • WinRAR (Eugene Roshal) – best compressor on the planet
  • Notepad2Mod (Kai Liu, Florian Balmer) – best notepad replacement ever, supports column block selecting etc. VERY fast, VERY configurable
  • – It will make you forget all the other office suites. Exports to pdf as well.
  • STDUviewer – still using Adobe’s monster? Try this PDF-viewer instead!
  • Forté Agent (email and USEnet) – ideal for smart users, header-freaks, plain and fast for email, great for binaries too
  • ERUNT – backup NT hives and stuff. Very useful for Windows NT/2000/XP recovery. Must have for the experienced Windoze user/admin.
  • HxD (Maël Hörz) – Hex Editor and Disk Editor
  • Autoruns (Mark Russinovich/Bryce Cogswell) – checks all autoruns, trim down Windows load
  • JkDefrag (Jeroen Kessels) – very good free disk defragmentation and optimize utility
  • Spybot S&D – top spyware and cookie cleaner
  • ADS Scanner (Pointstone Software) – find/kill Alternate Data Streams with this great free tool
  • Everything – administrative tool for very fast systemwide search, fast ftp/http serving and much more

  • ThumbsPlus (Cerious) – much better and way more handy features than the standard Windows XP image viewer, also great for fonts (viewing and installing)
  • ScreenHunter (Wisdom Soft) – perfect freeware for fast creation of printscreens/screenshots of selected area etc.
  • Photoshop CS (Adobe) – OK, still better than The Gimp, sorry.
    P2P related:
  • µTorrent (Ludvig Strigeus) – the best bittorrent client alive today, to use with
    cgaura NewArtRiot FXG demonoid isohunt torrentz latebyte tvtorrents rlslog etc. etc.
  • PeerGuardian – for some peace of mind when you’re doing scary things
  • HashCalc – splendid free file md5, sha2, hash, crc and hmac calculator
  • ImgBurn – the best software to burn (lasermedia) images, like .iso .nrg .bin etc.

    Audio & Video related:

  • Daum Pot Player – YoungHuee Kang’s new project, best multimedia and HD player in the world!
  • K-Lite Codec Pack – this is the one you need to play all (updates often!), also handy for Matroska/MKV container: the CCC pack
  • QuickTime Lite (QT Light) – replace the Apple-pushed plugin
  • HDConvertToX – convert your BluRay or HD (MTS/M2TS/AVCHD/TS/VOB etc.) to h264, XviD, DivX, x264 or WMV muxed as mp4/avi/mkv/wmv etc.
  • VirtualDub and VirtualDubMod – amazing video filter/conversion AV re-sync/re-dub and cropping tools.
  • ExactAudioCopy – a.k.a. EAC, the high-end audio-CD ripper
  • Real Alternative – really don’t need the realmedia crap

  • OggdropXPd – the easiest way to encode OGG files, I highly recommend the aoTuV release
  • RazorL.A.M.E. – best stuff to encode high quality MP3 files
  • TagScanner – process ID3 1.0/1.1/2.2/2.3/2.4 tags, APE v1 and v2 tags, Vorbis Comments
  • MP3Gain – level-change MP3 files without re-encoding
  • mp3DirectCut – fast mpeg audio editing, a little complex, but does the job
  • WinAMP – the best audio-player, and my skin
  • SoundForge 9 (Sonic Foundry, now Sony) THE best audio editor around.
  • Vegas Pro 8 (Sony) Best video-editor/audio tracks mixer around. Adobe Premiere pales in comparison!

misc/security/hacker stuff

  • PuTTY THE ssh/telnet client
  • TrueCrypt – On The Fly disk encryption/decryption
  • Ultr@VNC – remote screen/desktop control, my support thing is based on it
  • WinMTR – clone of popular Matt’s traceroute Linux program.
  • Unlocker (Cedrick Collomb) – closes, kills and unloads any and all Windows processes (even trojans/viruses etc.)
  • Angry IP scanner – don’t be mislead by its name, a reliable little Windows port-scanner.
  • WinSCP – Secure SHell file transfer client
  • UPX – the Ultimate Packer for eXecutables (and UNpacker ;-)
  • Bootdisk (Petter Nordahl-Hagen) – need Administrator access to a blocked WinNT/2000/XP machine? This is your friend!
  • UltimateBootCD – perfect collection of boot tools on one CD
  • Bootdisks (the whole nine yards..) – ever needed to make a bootdisk for BIOS flashing etc. ?
  • MHDD (Dmitry Postrigan) – bad sector repair, HD diagnostic tool
  • HDHacker (Dimio) – simple and useful to save and restore MBR/boot sectors, or to low-level view them.
  • MBRtool – easily Backup, Edit and do stuff with your MBR …
  • CG-Security very useful data recovery and security stuff
  • Explore2fs the WIN32 explorer for Linux ext2fs partitions, and rfstool to read (copy from) ReiserFSystems!
  • wGetGUI & wget – the ultimate leechers
  • bw_mod Ivan Barrera’s stable bandwidth controller module for Apache!
  • DVD43 – find out what copy-protection is used on CD/DVD..

  • IsoBuster – bust open img and iso files, recover broken CD-roms or DVD’s
  • CD-DVD Speed (Ahead Nero) – Amazing free CD/DVD media quality tester
  • AutoIt – Windows automation, great free tool to record keyboard+mouse actions into executable scripts
  • NetStumbler – Network stumbler, scanning for wireless access..
  • BackTrack – security and wifi exploiting linux live CD, leave no trace ;-)
    For more security, pen-testing and sniffing-ware, check Oxid and Irongeek.

for Linux o.s. – mostly server-related

  • CentOS is my favorite linux o.s. distribution by far
  • wine – translation layer (a program loader) capable of running Windows applications
  • webmin allround (remote) browserbased administration tool for your linux/unix system(s)
  • Midnight Commander a.k.a. mc (fastest in handling files and editing text)
  • Postfix the best MTA, easier and faster than sendmail
  • Dovecot secure, fast, reliable IMAP server
  • Squirrelmail php IMAP based webmail suite, try only the stable ones
  • eAccelerator (mmCache sequel) double the speed of your php, optimizer
  • DenyHosts – handy security tool
  • ccrypt – secure file/stream encryption

Also check the
Freeware List of MSFN,
best-ever 46 freeware utilities,
freewaregenius’ list and
Oh, and do check ElaKiri’s Tips & Tricks!

This Post Has 15 Comments

  1. Alexei

    Esta muy bueno este sitio pero me gustaria saber si existe algun prog por ahi para desactivar, anti virus como el KaspersKy sin estar en la seccion de administrador.

  2. Doug

    Thanks a million! This list is very useful to me.

    Have a Merry Christmas!

  3. lucalan

    Hola, la verdad ya uso muchos de los programas de esta lista, muy buenos por cierto. Pero creo que falta uno que a mi parecer para los que bajamos mucha música en distintos formatos(MP3, OGG) a través de p2p nos es muy útil a la hora de organizar los archivos… Prueben este programa “The Godfather”, me ha parecido increible

  4. SinceZX81

    Great list with the Total Commander as the King!
    I would add just three more for every day use:
    Powermarks, CrapCleaner and of course Firefox.

  5. B@@

    Aha, total commander als eerste, volledig mee eens. Gebruik je ook de POP3 plugin voor Totalcommander? Het eerst wat ik doe als ik ergens binnenkom in een bedrijf voor een technische klus: TC installeren LOL!

  6. martin

    Ben zo’n 20 jaar geleden begonnen met Norton Comm. Nu TCL en bevalt nog steeds uitstekend.

  7. Dr.Ruud

    Ik mis nog: VLC, Virtual Edit, URUSoft Subtitle Workshop, DAEMON Tools, IrfanView, Geminisoft Pimmy, SysInternals Tools, Hamster Playground, FileWare FileSync, Tortoise SVN, Cygwin, Active Perl, Xi NetTransport, Able MIDI-editor, XViD, X-Lite (VoIP).

  8. paul

    Ik mis ZTree (filemanager)en TagScanner
    Leuke lijst verder

  9. Tuomas

    Having tried tagscanner: I didn’t like its CDDB- or freedb database import feature as those databases are full of errors, double entries and are limited. Surely an audiophile like you has experimented with softwares that utilize TRM fingerprints, like Picard? (

  10. Julius

    Those few errors caused by databases I have no problem correcting. Also, I rarely use tagscanner for that anyway, I use it to copy and paste tags, to mass tag, to use wildcards for selections and tagging, to create new tags for new tracks. Picard is for people ripping entire albums from CD, I don’t care much for having or ‘owning’ entire albums on disk, I only listen to (or use) very few tracks from each album, and I’m not wasting space for the off chance that someone else might sometime want that one track from some album.
    Plus, a software-site without screenshots annoys me, and the UI of picard is not very logical. Have they ever heard of the right-click button on the mouse?

  11. jxs

    I do not understand why SquirrelMail is used so widely, except for its really low requirements. I have written a short review of four different webmailers, including SquirrelMail, IlohaMail, RoundCube and BlueMamba.

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