5 Must-have Free Windows 7 Utilities

19 Comments

I was speaking with my future sister-in-law over the weekend and she was complaining about her laptop running Windows (s msft) Vista. She asked me if Windows 7 was better and I quickly realized I was gushing about it. Windows 7 (as I told her) is easily the best version of Windows and I recommended she upgrade her laptop if proper drivers are available. I also realized there are some utilities I use on every Windows 7 system I test, and I recommended them, too. Here are my top 5 Windows 7 utilities.

Microsoft Security Essentials. A good anti-virus/spyware utility is a must on Windows 7, and I like Microsoft’s latest free product. I have used other free products in the past, AVG and McAfee in particular, but I find Microsoft’s Security Essentials is easier to install on new systems and uses less system resources than any other.

Rocketdock. I use a lot of Windows systems with limited screen real estate, and the free Rocketdock is a good way to have one-click access to the programs I use the most. Rocketdock is fully configurable, and can be positioned on any edge of the screen preferred. It’s simple and indispensable once installed. And it’s the utility I am most asked about when showing off a system with it installed.

Batterybar. I only use portable computers, and keeping an eye on battery performance is critical. Batterybar is a free meter (paid version available) that sits in the taskbar and shows the battery gauge. It also tracks lots of stats about the battery performance, and over time is extremely accurate.

CCleaner. Windows 7 requires housekeeping, just like all the versions before it, if you want to keep it humming along nicely. CCleaner is a free utility that keeps the pesky Windows registry lean and mean, along with clearing out the jump web browsers leave behind.

Wireless Network Meter. Desktop gadgets were introduced with Windows Vista, and Windows 7 carries on the tradition. I live my work life online, so keeping an eye on the network performance is useful. Wireless Network Meter monitors the network bandwidth in real time. It provides useful network information to make sure hotspots are secure.

19 Comments

RW

I suggest adding Fences (http://www.stardock.com/products/fences/), free for personal use to this list. It is a great (windows in general) app for organizing small desktops. I also use Rocketdock, but Fences would be my choice if I were asked to choose between both. The good news is you don’t need, they can live a very happy and symbiotic live in your desktop… ;)

Lorie Ghamy

NETBOOK MEMORY FRIEND : BARTAB FOR FIREFOX !

Hello James,

Like me and some others you are using Firefox.

So there is a real big plugin for it when used on a Netbook (and not only). To avoid the very known memory hog with plenty of tabs, install BarTab. This ad-on is able to turn of the content of any unused tab (you chose when it arrive in sec, min, hours or days).

Miracle !

Many settings (in French, maybe not in English at this time )

A clic on a unactive Tab and it can be reloaded…. When the browser is going on, all available tabs from last sessions can stay light of…. It’s very nice for low memory footprint.

I avoid usual crashes with many Youtube and Vimeo tabs opened together and all using Flash engine.

Firefox is now a breeze on my Dell mini 9….

Try it and make a news around it :

https://addons.mozilla.org/fr/firefox/addon/67651

Allan Jones

Regarding CCleaner, I agree that it’s frustrating that Windows always gets slower, and it apears that registry clogging is a major factor. What puzzles me is why Microsoft don’t include something equivalent to CCleaner in Windows, as it would presumably be a simple way for MS to ensure that a Windows installation performed reasonably well over its working life. I’m wary of registry cleaners.

Fix PC Freeze

I have been using AVG free version for over a year now. I would say it is good. But now I am going to try Microsoft Security essentials on your recommendation. CC Cleaner has to be used with caution. I once did a mistake and without thinking got all my desktop icons like Mycomputer, my documents etc switched off and it took me some time before I got them back. I think it is very important to read the help files all programs before you start using it.

CTSLICK

I disagree, I didn’t even know Microsoft Security Essentials existed and had forgotten about CCleaner. So thanks for the post James!

Daniel

I would agree with you on CCleaner and maybe Microsoft Security Essentials but the others seem pretty optional. I would also include a good music/movie player as a must have (vlc maybe), a good browser (FF or Chrome) and probably an antispyware product like spybot.
To be perfectly honest I would dump M$ Security Essentials for avast or avira.

bluespapa

I was relieved to find my two must haves for Windows function.

4t tray minimizer allows you minimize any window to the start tray if you leave certain programs running all the time, and don’t want them to take up space on the taskbar. It will also hide any open apps. I think it will also make your whole start tray disappear, which I rarely need, but it clears the space.

And WheresJames Winspike will make any window you choose stay on top of others. I’ve never understood why this function is only built into a few programs, and not a feature next to the close/maximize/minimize buttons on the top right of every Windows program. Even with multiple displays, there are times when I want a calculator, an email, or Word doc to stay on top of everything.

Both of these have other functions I don’t use, and best of all they’re free, and live in the start tray.

Apoorva Pandya

Must haves:

Avast Anti-Virus,MalwareBytes(to detect malware)

Autoexec.bat

Gizmo Central…a must-have for laptops without an optical drive. Can mount ISOs from thumb drives, can even mount VHD files for quick emulation. Good burning software too and includes itself in context menus in Win7 like every good utility should.

Craig S

Uh… Security Essentials is “must-have”, but most of the others are not; they’re apps that you have gotten used to. OK, I could throw in CCleaner with the Security software since they’re in a similar category. By the way, these apps are requisites for Windows in general, not specifically Windows 7.

RocketDock specifically is far from a must-have, but when it comes to Windows 7 RocketDock is redundant and almost superfluous, thanks to the Windows 7 Taskbar. “One-click access” to your apps is built-in

James Kendrick

I hear what you’re saying about Rocketdock. I test a lot of small handheld computers and the Windows 7 taskbar is too small in portrait orientation to display all of my app icons. Rocketdock to the rescue. Not everyone will need it but I use it heavily.

Comments are closed.