Utility Launcher 2.0 (my homemade program) is a convenient launcher for clean-up and maintenance programs. You can place up to 20 clean-up and maintenance utilities under a single (1) desktop icon, so they can be accessed and run quickly. Utility Launcher is by no means essential; by itself it really doesn't do much; it is like a ribbon that can tie a boquet of utility programs together (into a suite, if you will). If you find my Homemade Freeware usefull, great! If not, simply delete it.
PC Survival Kit. I have included what I used to call the "PC Survival Kit" in the hope that it may help the average (non-tech) user secure and optimize his or her computer. Below are Links to 8 programs that will help keep your computer running safely and smoothly. These are, in my opinion, the bare essentials. In each section below, I have included the manufacturer's description, along with some comments of my own, to help you get started. Click on the Links, download the program packages, Install the applications, and load them into Utility Launcher for quick and easy access. If you are unsure as to how to download and install a program, I can offer little help at this time; but here is some basic information: Install-a-program.
Some Basic Advice: 1) Use a reliable (A-V test certified) Anti-Virus client. 2) Use a Firewall! By most accounts, the windows Firewall is adequate, but there are several highly rated Firewalls available, so be sure one is on. 3) Keep your Windows operating system updated, either by using Automatic Updates, or by frequently checking Windows Updates. Not only will this keep you system up-to-date, but Windows runs a Malicious Software Removal Tool every month to keep your system free from the most common viruses and malware. 4) Keep all your maintenance utilites updated. Some will ask to be updated quite often. It's best to have the latest versions. 5) Un-install (remove) as much left-over Trialware and Junk software as you can from your system. They only take up disk space, they run constantly in the background, and they often "phone home" every time you start your computer or use the internet. 6) Use Google to find answers to your computer questions. If you can formulate a question, Google it, and chances are somebody will offer an answer -- just be sure to check more than one answer to try to avoid a bad answer. And, finally, 7) Backup all your important data! Dispite your best efforts, sooner or later, something bad is going to happen, and you don't want to loose everything.
Everything on this page has been tested on Windows XP and Windows 7. Everything on this page is Free. Many of the programs have a "pro" (pay) version that offer some extra features, but I find the free versions to be adiquate for what they do.
That's it. I hope you find this page usefull. Good Luck...
UL was developed on Windows 98se; it was later updated on Windows XP. It works fine with Windows 7, and it can run on Windows 8 in Desktop mode, but it is a bit harder to find the utility applications in Windows 7 and 8 since they have two "Program Files" folders (C:\Program Files\ and C:\Program Files (x86)\). To find the desired utility applications, you may have to search both folders. Other than that, UL works pretty much as it always has. As long as I see it getting downloaded, I'll keep UL around.
Download the zip file from one of the 2 links below. Once un-zipped, place the program folder "Utility Launcher 2.0" (which contains the Application and RunTime files) anywhere you like. Open the folder and make a shortcut to the "Utility Launcher 2.0.exe" application. Place the shortcut on the desktop. You should then be ready to go. [download 1.2 MB]
From Avast!: The latest version of Avast! features outstanding detection abilities, together with high performance. You can expect 100% detection of In-the-Wild viruses (viruses already spreading between users) and excellent detection of Trojans.
From JFB: There are other good, free anti-virus programs from which to choose (ex. AVG). At the moment Avast! Free seems to be among the best. Remember, you can run only one anti-virus client, so choose one that you trust. Updated anti-virus protection is an absolute must have.
From Malwarebytes: Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware is a high performance anti-malware application that thoroughly removes even the most advanced malware and spyware. With one of the fastest, most effective quick scans and malware removal capabilities on the market, this program is the perfect addition to your PC's defenses. The free version has some non-critical functions turned off.
From JFB: This is a must have.
From Piriform: CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system - allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner.
From JFB: This is a must have. Be sure you understand the settings before you change the defaults. The Registry Cleaner is limited, but it is very safe; I have never had a problem with it.
From Glaryutilities: One Click A Day For PC Maintenance. Glary Utilities is an indispensable friend for your PC, with its 100% safe, thorough & quick cleaning and worry-free restoration. Glary Utilities is a freeware with registry and disk cleaning, privacy protection, performance accelerator and amazing multifunctional tools. It can fix dogged registry errors, wipe off clutters, optimize internet speed, safeguard confidential files and maintain maximum performance. It is designed for both novice and professionals. User-friendly interface shows clear & detailed directions.
From JFB: This is a must have. Stick with the "1-Click Maintenance" option (avoid the Moduals option, unless you know what you're doing); it is very safe.
From Auslogics Software: Disk Defrag will speed up your computer by optimizing file system. It can defragment files, consolidate free space and move system files to the faster part of the disk. With Disk Defrag you'll get the maximum out of your hard drive performance. And with its comprehensive reports you will always be aware of what have been done. Disk Defrag features: fast and safe defragmentation of the disk drives; optimization of clusters' structure and file system for even better disk performance.
From JFB: Much better than the Windows disk defragmenter. There are other disk defraggers, but I like this one the most.
From Auslogics Software: The Windows Registry is the most accessed and the most vulnerable to errors part of your computer. As you install and uninstall software it becomes cluttered with obsolete and corrupted entries, which can cause system errors, crashes, and failures. Therefore it's extremely important to keep the Registry in top form by cleaning all the junk and fixing all the errors that accumulate over time. Auslogics Registry Cleaner is designed for fast and safe Registry optimization. It will detect and fix various Registry errors and ensure that your computer runs as good as new.
From JFB: I find that cleaning the registry periodically makes the system more stable and run smoother. Some registry cleaners, however, can be dangerous, but I have never had a problem with this one.
From iExpert Software: During the normal operation of a Windows system, registry data is constantly being written to and removed from the registry. Over time this data becomes scattered within the registry file and when information is deleted from the registry holes are left which fragment the data within the registry. Our Free Registry Defrag optimizes your registry by removing gaps and wasted space, thus improves the whole system performance.
From JFB: Some people feel this is unneccessary, especially with Windows 7, but I do think it makes the system run smoother.
From BillP Studios: Clean up your Taskbar, ActiveX, Brower and Startup programs. WinPatrol monitors and exposes adware, keyloggers, spyware, worms, cookies, and other malicious software. WinPatrol's goal is to help you better understand what programs are running on your computer and to alert you to any new programs added without your permission. Unlike traditional security programs, WinPatrol doesn't scan your hard drive searching for previously identified threats. Instead, it uses a heuristic behavioral approach, taking a snapshot of your critical system resources, then alerting you to any changes that occur without your knowledge.
From JFB: This has proven to be a very useful program, even though parts of it I do not use. I use the "Sartup" tab to disable any unwanted startup programs, and use the "IE Helpers" tab to remove all the so-called "IE Helpers"; you don't need them; they only track your internet activity.