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Top applications to install after a fresh OS installation

By Julio Franco · 32 replies
Feb 10, 2009
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  1. We've all been there, no matter what you try, your PC just isn't running like it did the day you purchased it. So you admit defeat, back up what you can and break out your installation disk. After installing your squeaky clean instance of Windows, the reality of what little you have as far as programs go comes barreling toward you in a wave of panic and frustration.

    Fortunately today there’s a wide array of quality freeware applications, so it's both cheaper and easier to transform your system into a seemingly impenetrable force armed with a cache of media, messaging and office applications.

    With this guide, we will be providing you with a list of useful applications that we feel stand above all others in what they attempt to do, and when all is said and done, your PC will be ready for nearly any everyday task you throw at it.

    Read the full article at:

    Have your own picks and favorites of your essential apps to install after a Windows reformat? Please share them with us.
  2. Captain828

    Captain828 TS Guru Posts: 289   +15

    Good list, but why no mention of IrfanView? it's a MUCH better viewer than the standard MS viewer and I don't think someone would use GIMP or PS to view pics :rolleyes:

    And why include an advanced text editor in a list that is supposed to be first priority? that's more like a specialized app for a certain need. Like me installing RivaTuner, for eg.

    Regarding Media Playback, another option were to install CCCP, a popular codec pack. That way you would have a single app (WMP) which you could use for both Video and Audio files, though VLC is faster to set up...

    Also, it would have been good to mention that the latest Video and Audio drivers + DirectX (+ proprietary software drivers, like Logitech's SetPoint) should also be installed among the first.
  3. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 13,810

    You may have missed the countless threads on Don't use AVG
    Try the much better Avira
                  First pick  	Alternative 1  	Alternative 2
    Anti-Virus 	[COLOR="DimGray"]AVG free 	 NOD32 	         Avast![/COLOR]
    Anti-Malware 	[COLOR="DimGray"]Spybot 	        MB Anti-Malware[/COLOR]
    Definitely NOT my pick
    Here is a far better option is users want a clean and well running system:
                  First pick  	Alternative 1  	Alternative 2
    Anti-Virus 	Avira Free	 Avast! 	    Nod32
    Anti-Malware 	MB Anti-Malware SuperAntiSpyware
    Please note these excellent Malware removal tools are also available in the UPDATED 8-step Viruses/Spyware/Malware Preliminary Removal Instructions
    Which doesn't include AVG or Spybots :grinthumb

    I would highly suggest you amend the article to mirror exactly what forum Malware specialists have already recommended. As it's going to be difficult if members quote your article, and I have to say, "sorry that article is not the general consensus of the forum, and should not be followed IMHO" It would also help other forums from not ridiculing us on the recommendations :suspiciou
  4. janslar

    janslar TS Rookie

    The Best

    You guys are great as well as your website. Keep up the good work!!!!!!!!!

  5. Burned

    Burned TS Rookie

    Top apps

    I like to use a program called nLite. With that program I can update my Windows and add all my must have programs. I update my disc every 3 months and that way when I do have to reinstall my Windows I have most of all the updates and the programs I like to use right out of the box. Saves me hours of time and its fully automated :)


  6. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,246   +507

    It's funny we would put out a list like this - I've been maintaining (well, sort of) a personal list of this on my internal site to help me keep track of the apps I think are most important after a fresh OS install. Here's a quick export of mine: Must Have Apps
  7. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 8,092   +1,193

    @kim: Avira is also a very good anti-virus (and freeware), so I will be making that addition right after posting this, certainly something we missed.

    As for what are the best absolute applications, it's an argument that could travel back and forth a hundred times and with all these security/malware removal programs you do know your mileage can vary widely.

    I understand you would have preferred an unified front but from our own experiences and research that went into putting this article together, we stand by our choices - and no, I don't see how this could pose ridicule at all.


    I'm sure that depending on your own specific needs you will require the installation of at least a few more programs, but we tried to cover everyone's basics with a great load of (mostly) freeware apps.

    Please do share your own list of favorite apps in this thread.

    @Papa, your link goes 404.
  8. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 13,810

    AVG8 can easily corrupt under Virus\Malware infection (similar to Norton ironically)
    After much discussion (through PM :( ) with all Malware support members, it was agreed to remove it from the 8-Step Removal guide, because:
    1. It can easily corrupt under infection (how absurd is that)
    2. It does not find and remove as many malwares as Avira (proven time and time again)
    3. Will slow a users computer down, mainly due to all the useless addons, in default install
    4. Has been reviewed across the Net, and is always below Avira (except for sites associated with Grisoft)

    There have also been quite a number of previous threads on this subject, including:

    Recommended antivirus/malware programs? https://www.techspot.com/vb/topic121226.html
    Is/was AVG Disaster? https://www.techspot.com/vb/topic121398.html
    What do you think is the best Antivirus right now?
    What's the best antivirus program?
    AVG Free Antivirus
    Instead of AVG? free antivirus recs please

    Also note, that whenever a member states that require help in removing Virus\Malware, and if that user has AVG installed, here is my No.1 first reply (must have quoted this hundreds of times already!)
    This is not a debate to thro about personal choice, this is confirmed investigation into this product by all Virus\Malware support members. And again across the Net reviews (too many to easily mention) The only Support member who agrees by AVG is Bobbye, and he has stated Not AVG8, but AVG7 is ok (which is not the standard download ie Older (good) version (again Avira preferred)


    In line with the thread (not relevant to Antivirus softwares)
    I also use FastStone Image Viewer as an excellent free picture viewing program :)
  9. bjojoj

    bjojoj TS Rookie

    I highly recommend Online Armor firewall from TallEmu, free or paid version (depending on your needs and funds). Perhaps you guys overlooked that one?

    Drivermax is very useful to install BEFORE you format and reinstall windows. Use it to save your drivers on a separate drive/partition to be able to install (with Drivermax) all those drivers at once after reinstall with only one restart needed. Very easy to use for updating, saving and reinstalling drivers.

    SMPlayer with MPlayer engine is my favorite for watching videos/movies. There is also a "powerpack" called "MPlayer for Windows" (//mulder.dummwiedeutsch.de/home/?page=projects#mplayer), including SMPlayer and MPUI frontends as well as the MPlayer engine + codecs.

    For creation of DVD's from compressed video-files, I use DVDStyler. Most of all it's easy to use and does what it is supposed to without hassle.

    I'm sorry 'bout the lack of links, but being new here I wasn't allowed to insert any (provided one link in plain text 'cause that one might be harder to find). They're easy enough to find, if you're interested in trying them out.


    I've been interested in that program for some time now but haven't got around to try it out yet:rolleyes: Anyway, do you integrate drivers as well? Is it easy to make that work with all kinds of drivers?

    My favorite too. It really is a smooth viewer!
  10. Burned

    Burned TS Rookie

    Yes you can Integrate drivers. That is how I first came across the program. I have a raid setup and needed to get XP to recognize my raid drives. So I used nLite to slipstream the raid drivers into XP.
    You can do more than that with it too. I use it to integrate WMP11, IE7, SP3 + post SP3 hot fixes, drivers, programs, tweaks, and remove stuff I dont need from my XP CD.
    It beats farting around with installing Windows, then Windows updates, programs and tweaks. nLite does this all for you and it also automates your installation so you can insert the CD/DVD and leave.
  11. OneArmedScissor

    OneArmedScissor TS Enthusiast Posts: 50   +7

    I think you forgot Foobar. :p

    Kind of goofy to recommend iTunes and Winamp IMO. Winamp isn't fully featured unless you pay for it, and if you have an iPod, you obviously already know about iTunes, but I personally think it's pretty lame. The updates try to install other Apple programs, it runs dumb processes in the background, it renames your songs so you can't just copy them back off...

    Alternatives to iTunes would have been a more informative addition, as I imagine most people aren't really familiar with such a thing. I don't have any suggestions, but that's just food for thought.

    Thanks. That is pretty durn nifty.
  12. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,376   +72


    Don't forget to mention Songbird as a music player as it integrates iPod support and eliminates some need for iTunes.
  13. bjojoj

    bjojoj TS Rookie

    Thanks alot, I knew about programs and updates but wasn't sure how functional it is for drivers though. I'll be sure to get around to it now!

    I'd like to recommend Drivermax for driver updates, in case you haven't tried it and do not use something similar already. I'm personally too lazy to search for updates for all drivers individually, but with that program it's a walk in the park.
  14. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,246   +507

    Odd - works for me even at different locations
  15. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 13,810

    Maybe AVG link scanner is stopping it :p
    Nah, joking, it works for me too :)
  16. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,246   +507

    Looks like my host had an outage for a few minutes yesterday - that would explain the 404.
  17. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 8,092   +1,193

    Perhaps, but my ISP has been terribly unreliable as of late, but it loads fine now.
  18. Jimm in PS

    Jimm in PS TS Rookie

    What I've used for a few years...

    What I've used, except for Jet Audio, after several years of trial and error:
    I frequently re-install Win98 and XP (Mostly Pro SP2), never Vista.

    By far and away - IMHO - Erunt has been the most valuable.

    Oh, BTW, if a particular version is working fine I do NOT update to newer versions
    as I find most of them eventually move toward commercialization and/or heavy cpu/ram usage.

    shoot the messenger.exe

    Spybot 1.4
    AVG 7.5
    Firefox 2.xxx
    Zone Alarm 7.0.XXX
    Before and After Install
    K-Lite Codec Pack Basic
    Irfanview 3.99
    PDFX Viewer
    Jet Audio Basic
    TurboNavigator 1.4x

    Also: I find this very, very important to do: In XP Pro, turn OFF Automatically Restart: Like so:
    /System/Advanced/Startup-Recovery-Settings/ uncheck box to the left of Automatically Restart

    Not doing so frequently causes the computer to continuously re-start.

    Hope this post is useful....

  19. Row1

    Row1 TS Guru Posts: 325   +13

    "CAM unzip" good. "AVG" not so good.

    Hi, everyone-
    This is an awesome topic. Whenever I need to figure out this issue, I usually simply post a note here at Techspot, and get great input, from other members, that I generally can really trust.

    For a zip/unzip utility, for the past couple of years, I really appreciate CAM unzip.

    Ditto the Irfanview endorsement. Exemplar of a favored utility.

    The free Avast does not have an automatic scheduler. People have posted a work-around, but it is pretty involved, and Avira is a great alternative - so it is sad, but for simple but annoying reasons, I have just shrugged my shoulders at these formerly great programs, and moved on.

    I would not mind PAYING for some of these utilities, but then you get on this annoying merry-go-round of updates - And we have all caught on that it is not like the program is any different - they just make it look new, tweak a feature or two, and cripple what you have. Truly you don;t pay for a program. You actually truly license it until the company sees fit to either sabotage the older vresion or annoy you until you 'upgrade.'

    Dude, it is OK to put car commercials on TV every ten minutes, but if I buy a car, I want to drive it for as long as I want to, and get a new one when I get a new one. If I want to lease a car, I will lease a car. No car company ever does a recall of every car just because they developed a new model with improved cupholders. I wish the software companies would quit this 'lease' business model.

    Frankly, that is why I keep jumping from free program to free program. I don't mind paying for a decent prorgam, but even when I pay, I get as much or more hassle compared to changing from free program to free program as they quit being free, handicap the free version, etc.

    A major criterion I have is how much HASSLE does a program give you (whether paying or not).

    AVG went from cool to total hassle. I cut them loose at that moment.

    Adobe Acrobat is a real leader in quality performance for pdf, but it is a total hassle: updates that to me and most users are irrelevant, and somehow Acrobat always has some program that "will not respond" when I am "shutting down" and thus makes me have to hit a bunch of warning screens simply to turn off the computer.

    I really dislike the low-priority programs and utilities that always have something running in the background - like the programs that always have their "detect updates" tiny program running in the background. All. The. Time. The big deal with that minor issue is that when I get some problem, and I go to look at my task list to see what is going on, I have 20 programs continually checking to see if they have an update. This is like the hyper dog that will sit by you, panting, 24 hours a day, hoping for the moment you might throw a tennis ball. Sit down and relax! I will tell you when it is time to chase the ball!

  20. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 13,810

    Excellent post Row1 :grinthumb You put my thoughts and feelings on all these "paid products" into clear words. Thanks :)
  21. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +185

    A few of the tools i like that haven't been mentioned yet
    • ALZIP
      Compression utility which handles over 36 different compression formats
    • Jdiskreport
      Provides a graphical and "drill-down" view of your disk usage. It also supports multiple ways to view your usage (e.g. by folder, by file type, ascending or descending order, top 50 file sizes, etc)
    • FreeCommander
      Tired of trying to work back and forth between two different Explorer windows? Try a dual-pane view of your file/folders all within a single Window
    • HDTune
      Very handy tool to help assess the health/performance of your drives
    • VLC_Player
      Gotta have a copy of this portable multimedia player (which doesn't require you go searching for codecs) for playing
      • Various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...)
      • DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols
      • Unicast or multicast media streams received as IPv4 or IPv6 over a high speed network
    And I'll add a few "of the more Geek-ish" tools :)
    • RegShot
      Ever wish you could just see a “diff” between two different snapshots of your Windows registry?
    • System Information Viewer
      We all like Everest, but System Information Viewer allows you to “drill-down” into your system to find lots of details and easily understand the relationships via a hierarchical drill-down view (The buttons in your SIV provide a "drill-down" or different view into your machine)
    • Adapter Watch
      Keep an eye on your network adapters and their performance data
    • BIOS Explorer
      If you ever feel like "crawling around" inside of your BIOS....
  22. mushley

    mushley TS Rookie

    As the title suggests... a proper uninstaller !!...here is an amazing freebie, much better than m/s add/remove.. and actually clears the junk out of the registry afterwards, revo uninstaller
  23. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +185

    revo uninstaller :grinthumb YES! Good suggestion. Completely forgot about that one.

    And welcome to TechSpot mushley! :wave:
  24. fimbles

    fimbles TS Evangelist Posts: 1,192   +208

    Hope these have not been mentioned before..

    Winrar and vlc media player.
  25. bjojoj

    bjojoj TS Rookie

    Revo's got 3 fans then! (also forgot)

    It has great options as to how picky it's supposed to be when searching for leftovers and it is clear where the files are situated, minimizing the risk of deleting something by mistake. Actually, I still haven't been offered to delete anything necessary for other programs. Spot on!

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