4 Essential Utilities for Windows Netbooks

I’ve been using netbooks for over a year now; they’re great for the times when I just want to tote a lightweight machine for performing basic tasks, or even cruise around the house, working in various places. They’re also a very hot product category. If you’re new to netbooks, or thinking of getting one, in this post I’ll round up four utilities for Windows netbooks that will make working with them much easier and more efficient.


RocketDock is an animated application launcher that works very much like the Dock in Mac OS X. It’s specifically designed to run on computers that aren’t speed demons, and sticks to simple animations such as icons that bounce as you hover over them. It’s a very handy way to launch applications, particularly on a netbook’s small screen.

TinyResMeter provides a pop-up summary of the system resources that you have in use. Since many netbooks have limited resources, this can be handy in warning you to shut down processes or applications that are hogging resources. It’s not the prettiest resource monitoring application, but it’s not meant to be. It’s lightweight, and stays focused on essential system processes.

VLC Media Player is an open-source media player application that is much more lightweight than its competitors. I use it all the time, and love it. It supports most popular audio and video formats, and has a very active open-source community that constantly improves it.

USB Thumb Drive. While a USB thumb drive isn’t exactly a software utility, it’s one of the most essential sidekicks you can get for your netbook. They have risen in capacity and fallen in price: you can get a 64GB thumb drive that fits in your pocket for under $100. I highly recommend downloading PortableApps, which delivers a huge collection of useful open-source applications and utilities that you can keep on your thumb drive. Netbooks generally have limited storage space, so you can’t hoard large collections of apps. It’s reassuring to know that whenever you need to carry out a task, it’s highly likely that there will be something in the Portable Apps collection on your thumb drive that will be able to do it.

Share your netbook tips in the comments.

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