TechSpot

Utility programs you can do without

  1. Quite Often I am asked why a program that someone has downloaded / installed does not seem to be doing its job properly.

    I have tried to come up with 12 categories below of what i consider to be some of the most USELESS applications that are around. It is fair to say that there are people out there who do create programs that fall into the caregories below with the intention of actully trying to help but in the long run it probably ISNT a good idea!!!

    If you come up with any others please let me know.

    THE LIST
    ********************

    1) Broadband Connection Tweakers:
    They are supposed to optimize your broadband connection for faster throughput. The only thing they'll optimize is their bank account at your expense.

    2) Download Managers:
    Countless users install these utilities on their PCs to speed up downloads. Although they can be handy in picking up broken downloads from where you left off, they don't speed up anything at all.

    3) Registry Editors:
    They don't do nothing. They do lots. Almost all of it destructive. Avoid like the plague. If you dont really know how the registry works LEAVE IT ALONE

    4) RAM Memory Optimizers:
    They're supposed to reallocate your RAM to free up all sorts of extra memory. A quick fresh re-allocation of your RAM can be done by a simple reboot. NB: a program will use as much RAM as it requires to run so if you find you have RAM “spare” when running a memory intensive program DONT try and allocate it more. You can always free up RAM by running Task Manager and closing any apps/processes that you dont require open.

    5) Hard Drive Crash Protectors:
    These utilities are supposed to predict when your hard drive is about to crash and save it. How can a program predict when your about to crash???

    6) Alternate Explorers and Skins:
    These utilities will change around your desktop and sometimes even your entire user interface to one that is "more effective." The only thing that these utilities are more effective in is to mess up your system. Avoid!

    7) File Erasers:
    Sure, they'll overwrite your files seven or more times to United States Department Of Defense (USDOD) standards, but if you're doing something on your PC that requires that level of security, you should be in jail. If you're getting rid of an old hard drive try formatting a couple of times or better still take a magnet to it. Sledge hammer even maybe ....

    8) Remote Storage:
    Wow, what a concept! You can pay to have 10, 20 or more GB of your data stored completely securely on some server somewhere. Not only are you opening yourself up to being data mined unless you encrypt everything first, but have you ever tried to upload 20 GB from your PC? Even on very fast broadband connections, that can take days!

    9) Emergency Recovery:
    If you can't get into your system by Safe Mode and a pre-set-up Emergency Boot Disk, your system is toast anyway. Windows 7 actually does provide an option to create a Recory Disc using an IMAGE your really dont need any thrid part apps.

    10) Browser Plug-Ins and Gadgets:
    If you tried really hard to come up with some of the most patently useless and ridiculous wastes of hard drive space and CPU cycles, you would be hard pressed to create anything worse than 99% of all the Browser Plug-Ins and Gadgets out there. All they do is take up space, slow down your PC, and all the while providing incredibly important information such as how cold the beer in your fridge is.

    11) Torrent Optimizers/Secrecy
    Ok firstly dont download ilegally then you wont have a problem. simple :)
    Secondly this is complete rubbish!!! These programs are meant to hide your details when you are ilegally downloading and prevent third parties from watching your traffic and stop you getting caught. All it does it track your data and mess around with your torrents and PC. it DOES NOT stop third parties from seeing what you download. if they wish to do so then they will.

    12) Mallicious Antivirus Programs / Malware Programs
    This is a bit skeptical as there are LOTS of free Antirvirus / anti malware programs out there that are genuine. The ones I refer to here are the ones you see when you visit a site and it instantly tells you your computer is infected with X number of viri. Clever site for scanning your PC in approx 0.3s! These programs actually INFECT your PC trying to get you to spend money on a program to fix it when there is nothing wrong with your PC and sometimes blocking genuine programs such as IE or FF


    WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?
    ***************************************************
    Ok so there are the categories so where do we find all these programs???
    They are pretty much everywhere!! When asking clients where they get these programs from these were the TOP 3 that they came up with.
    1. Torrent / Illegal Download Sites
    2. Third Party Driver Download Sites
    3. Porn Sites

    SO HOW DO WE STOP THESE PROGRAMS?
    ******************************************************************
    We cant stop people fron creating these programs but you can help yourself
    1. Down Ileagally download
    2. OK i will admit it can be sometimes difficult to find the drivers that you need but ALWAYS try the manufacturer site first
    3. Just dont visit them!

    Sometimes some common sense is also required. You visit a site and it tells you you have so many Registry errors ro Viri (see Category 12). PLease think if it takes a normal Antivirus programs sometimes 2-3 hours to do a full system scan how can site do it in less the 2-3 seconds?


    WHAT TECHSPOT CAN OFFER YOU?
    *********************************************************
    • If you look under the Downloads section of TECHSPOT you will find lots of FREE apps that you can install from Firewalls/antispyware/antivirus etc that will help protect your PC
    • If you think you are infected with MALWARE then visit the team on the MALWARE section of this. Make sure you read the following thread first http://www.techspot.com/vb/topic58138.html
    • Make sure that your have the pop-up blocker turned on in IE or FF. Alternativly you could download the google search toolbar which again has a pretty decent pop-up blocker on it.



    I hope this helps people to determine wether they actually need to install a certain program onto their computer.


    James
     
  2. EDO219

    EDO219 TS Rookie Posts: 212

    Download Managers can make a HUGE difference for dial-up users, but they are quite pointless for broadband users.

    Registry Editors are indeed often destructive, but CCleaner's version has never failed me. It simply saves time.

    Good alternative Windows skins are few and far between. However, Alienware's Alienguise for XP is fantastic!

    File erasers are nice if you are reselling an HDD.

    Torrent Security programs are often spyware, and a good proxy address does the trick just fine. In the past, I have been unable to install software from the disks I clearly own due to deep scratches or if I was unable to find the disk in my apartment. So torrents do serve a lawful purpose which saves companies time.
     
  3. bobcat

    bobcat TechSpot Paladin Posts: 688   +67

    First of all, I offer my compliments on your comprehensive and helpful expose with which I largely, though not entirely, agree. It makes a refreshing change from the usual: “Which is the best AV?” etc. Actually, I had in mind to write something similar, but you beat me to it. Or maybe I’ll give mine a different “skin”. :)

    Unless qualified in the comments below, I endorse your positions.

    Download Managers
    As you said, they can pick up broken downloads. In addition, they can download certain data not directly accessible, e.g. streamed videos or music where the download link is not given. They can also automate the downloading of a series of images and co-ordinate multiple downloads. Consequently they do have their uses.

    File Erasers
    Short of destroying it, making a disk unreadable to experts is not as easy as some people think, and good, specialized programs can make the job easier and more thorough, though still not foolproof.

    Browser Plug-Ins
    Some of them, a small minority, can be useful, e.g. NoScript, site advisors and download managers for Firefox.
     
  4. jamesodriscoll

    jamesodriscoll TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 91

    Thanks for the comments guys!

    Hmmm yeah i do agree thay maybe i have been a little harsh on some aspects here but i think i kinda got into the swing of it and maybe went OTT.

    I still maintain i hate Registry Edditers and perhaps i have just had bad experiences of Download Managers.

    However yeah i do agree that perhaps the browser plugins is not a bad one and there are lots of decent plugins to be had

    thanks again
    james
     
  5. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,351   +622

    Nice work. It's a good contribution to the community :wave:
     
  6. jamesodriscoll

    jamesodriscoll TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 91

    thanks jobeard
     
  7. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Posts: 39

    James
    This should be a sticky at the head of the forum. I checked out that list on the forum you are referring to. I have heard of some of them and you are right they are losers.
    No offense Pygmus, but CCleaner did a major number on my machine. What it considered "junk files" were really essential files. My fault, I trusted it to do what it said it would remove junk files.

    As to Download managers. I have 1 because I have a dial-up connection. A 100MB file can take up to 8 to 10 hours to download. I've had my ISP take a time out right in the middle of such a download and I lost 75% of that 100MB file. I use "Free Download Manager".

    I wish they would make something that did a checksum as it downloaded files. I now have a problem with my system and finding which files the checksums don't match in (because of incomplete downloads). I'm using Vista, not windows 7. I bought Macrium Reflect so I could burn ISO images to an external HD. I have yet to be able to verify 1 single image. It's not the program, because I checked with Western Digital and they gave me a link for a free Acronis True Image for WD. I can't verify an image on that either. I'm a cabinet builder, custom kitchens, I hate spending hours working on a design worried that if my system crashes I lose it all. Right now I back them up to CD but keeping track of which CD has what on it is getting hard. I have stacks of them.

    George
     
  8. jamesodriscoll

    jamesodriscoll TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 91

    Hi Just george,

    Welcome Techspot! Thanks for your comments here appreciated. I know your using Windows VISTA here but if you were to consider to upgrading to Windows 7 it has a great backup systme where you can create a backup ISO of you HD which may be useful.

    As for the Custom Kitchens out of curisity what software do you use? is there an Autodesk Autocad software for it?

    James
     
  9. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 3,435   +145

    A rather cynical generalization.
    But since this is a generalization, it's mostly correct, but I have to say that there are exceptions.

    BTW I used to use google toolbar, I think it's rather cumbersome, along with nearly all google software (google desktop...oh gosh) except chrome.
    Also, definitely loving chrome custom shortcuts and session manager plugin.

    Registry editors...Is there something wrong with them? Windows XP comes with two right out of the box. Got to be careful with registry cleaners, but there is nothing wrong with alternative registry editors (assuming you know what you're doing; obviously, any registry editor can be as dangerous as windows's built in ones).

    Now about "alternate explorers and skins".
    Not exactly sure what you're referring to, but if you're talking about themes, using custom themes, save the most extravagant, is basically the same as loading up Windows's default theme.

    I just glanced at Techspot's downloads, and there are several that would fall under the twelve categories...
    @PYGMUS
    Most Stardock programs are unnecessary and they are not all that lite on your system.
     
  10. jamesodriscoll

    jamesodriscoll TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 91

    thanks for the info HelloKitty

    Registry editors, as far as im concerned, should only be left to those who kow what they are looking for - for example skinning windows which can easily be altered under the Registry.
    I do like to mess around with the registry but AVOID registry editors as they seem to change stuff without u realising.

    Themes - hmm this one seems to have had different feedback and maybe was a bad choice of 12 categories lol. Probably mroe a personal choice really.


    thanks again for your feedback

    James
     
  11. justgeorge

    justgeorge TS Member Posts: 39

    James
    You asked about my cabinet software. If I'm just pulling something together to show a customer a completely new look I use Punch Pro Platinum.
    If I'm down to serious work where the customer wants to see every tiny detail then I pull out the big guns. I use eCab. It's produced strictly for professionals. Generally ones who use CNC machines to build with. (personally I build the old fashion way, I like the feel of wood in my hands, and I don't build mass production.)
    To a newbie it would take years to learn the software. I've been using it for over 10 years now and I still have to go back to the manual on using some of it's components. I don't particularly like Auto-Cad. There is some freeware out there called sketchup. That's pretty good and not too complicated to leard. If you take a peek let me know what you think.
    George
     

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