5 Great Pieces of Windows Software

Google Chrome

The very first thing I do upon reinstalling windows is open up internet explorer, go to chrome.google.com and install Google Chrome. Google's browser is fast, secure, and extremely extensible thanks to its very well implemented Chrome App store. Using Internet Explorer is the most common cause of spyware infestations, slow performance, and general malaise. If you are reading this in IE, go install Chrome and come back. It's okay, I'll wait.


Have you ever been moving a massive directory of files from one drive to another in Windows, as opposed to copying it, and the file transfer failed midway through, resulting in massive data loss and frustration? How about starting a big file transfer in the morning, going to work, and coming home only to realize it ran in to a file in use within the first 5% and sat there waiting for you to respond to the prompt instead of proceeding with the file transfer? If you've used Windows Explorer to move critical files around before I'm certain you have.
The solution to these problems is a great piece of software called Teracopy. It is a drop-in replacement for the Windows Explorer file move and copy utilities, and it supports things like transfer compression for increased speed, intelligent handling of files in use and other user-prompt situations to ensure things move along without you around, and automatic CRC checking to ensure file integrity once moved, among many other features. Teracopy is file transfer done correctly, and OS makers should take notes.


This software's intended purpose is to give you a top-down view of your current hard drive usage. It's great when you're trying to free up space or eliminate extraneous files. However, I use it for a pretty specific purpose for which it excels. Frequently at TCS I find myself having to back up people's user folder to allow me to format and reinstall their OS without them losing their data. I use Windirstat to find all of the files on the system I want to back up; people frequently have large videos or photo collections in very odd locations on their drive and Windirstat does a good job of revealing them. Additionally, I use Windirstat sorted by file count and not size to show me where the tons of tiny temporary internet files are hiding throughout the user's profile, so I can delete them before I start the transfer. Computers are very slow at transfering large numbers of tiny files, and by deleting as many as possible you can shave a substantial amount of time off of your transfers.


Windows suffers from a lack of free music players that automatically watch a folder and organize your library for you. There are really only three worth mentioning: iTunes, Mediamonkey and Musicbee. iTunes is reasonably good, especially the new version of it as the UI updates Apple made were pretty nice. However, iTunes is crazy slow and not very extensible. It installs various services on your system like the Apple Mobile Device service, which unless you have an iDevice do nothing but eat up ram and provide one more potential point of failure on your system. Mediamonkey isn't terrible either, except that to get its advanced features like auto tag fixing and library management you have to pay for the Gold version. I've had Mediamonkey grab my videos out of my downloads folder and rename them, moving them to the Unknown Artist folder in my music library and rendering them nearly impossible to find.
Musicbee is the only music player for Windows that I've found to meet all of my requirements. It's very fast, lightweight, automatically watches my completed downloads folder and moves my music into the appropriate place, and has a good looking interface. The Android remote app for it is a bit lacking in that it doesn't provide any library interface to find and play music, but if what you're looking to do is pause, skip tracks, and change volume it is fine.


Installing and updating software on a new system can be pretty arduous at times. If only there were an easy way to check off all the programs you want, and have them all automatically installed.
Ninite is exactly that. You go to ninite.com, check off all of the software you want installed (don't forget teracopy, windirstat, imgburn, and irfanview), and Ninite creates a custom installer for you that will automatically install all your stuff.
However, that's not all. If you run this installer again later it will automatically update any of the applications to their latest versions. It's great because if you already have a piece of software installed and you run the Ninite installer it will see the installed software and work just like it should.