Archive for the ‘Windows Utilities’ Category

CD Recovery Tool

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of CD Recovery Toolbox

While a diamond may be forever, your optical media are not. Your CDs and DVDs may seem permanent, but after just a few short years they can start to lose data integrity, whether because of surface scratches, problems with the dyes used in manufacturing, or other troubles. If you've got important data on there, you want to be able to get it back, so you need a tool that can handle the job.

CD Recovery Toolbox is designed to help you with that task. Feed it a bad disk and it will do its best to recover the maximum amount of data possible. After it's scanned your disk, it will tell you which files are recoverable, and make sure you've got room on your hard drive to bring those files over. And even with files that aren't totally recoverable, it works to grab the maximum amount of data possible—and it's better to have some of something than all of nothing.

A free download, CD Recovery Toolbox is a Windows application. It will run under Windows 98/NT and later versions.

Download CD Recovery Toolbox

Define different speeds for mouse and touchpad

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of AutoSensitivity

When you're interacting with a computer via a keyboard, things are pretty simple. You press a key, a character appears on the screen, end of story. But once you enter the World of the GUI, things get much more complicated. In the beginning was the mouse. You dragged it around the desktop, you clicked a button, and everything was fine. Sure, you added additional buttons, maybe a scrollwheel, but it was pretty much the same deal. Then came laptops, and with laptops came touchpads. While they helped you move a pointer around the screen, there is a real difference between the behavior of those two devices, not the least of which being the whole desktop for a mouse versus a couple of square inches for the touchpad.

AutoSensitivity lets you change the performance characteristics of your touchpad, independent of the behavior of a mouse you may have attached to the same computer. Set your mouse to be more–or less–responsive than your touchpad, and vice versa. Which profile gets used depends on whether your mouse is plugged in or not at any particular moment. No more big wild sweeps of the finger across the touchpad to get things going, as well as having to move the mouse only a fraction of an inch to get the cursor to rocket across the display.

AutoSensitivity is a free download. It's a Windows application, and should run just fine under XP and later. You'll also need to have at least version 3.5 of the .NET Framework installed.

Download AutoSensitivity

Classic Shell brings back missing features

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Classic Shell

Just because something's new doesn't necessarily mean it's better. While typically a new version of Windows has all kinds of cool new bells and whistles, sometimes that comes at the cost of losing some other feature that you personally rely on. Since you're not going to prevail against Redmond in asking them to re-introduce that missing functionality, you're typically left to fend for yourself. Or, if you're lucky, some third party will step into the breach and pick up the slack.

Classic Shell attempts to bring back many of the features you used in XP and earlier versions that were unceremoniously dropped with Vista and Windows 7. Included features include a classic Start Menu that supports drag-and-drop to organize applications, right-click context menus to help you delete, rename, and sort files. A Windows Explorer plugin that lets you get rid of breadcrumbs in the address bar, adds sorting headers in list view, and more. By the time you're done, you'll have all the speed and power of the newer O/S, but with the familiar look and feel of that older version you maybe reluctantly gave up.

Classic Shell is a Windows application. You'll need to be running Vista or 7 to use it.

Download Classic Shell

Monitor network traffic

Friday, September 30th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of NetworkTrafficView

With any sort of network, there are packets of data flying back and forth constantly. Most of the time, you probably don't care, as long as your email arrives and you can access networked resources. If you're the network guy or gal, or are more interested than average about what's going on, then you might like to take a look at what comprises that network traffic.

For general information, NetworkTrafficView can let you take a look behind the scenes and see what your machine is sending out and receiving in terms of data across your network. More specifically, though, you can use it to check for spyware or other nasties "phoning home" on your machine. It lets you decide how to sort your data, and gives you info about the source and destination, protocols used, number of packets, and total data throughput.

NetworkTrafficView is a free download. It's a Windows application and has both 32- and 64-bit versions.

Download NetworkTrafficView

Browse Mac filesystems with your Windows machine

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of HFSExplorer

If your organization uses machines all running Windows or Mac systems, it's pretty easy to work together. Once you start mixing platforms, though, things can get more interesting. Mac users can use Finder to browse Windows volumes without any real problems, but for the Windows user looking at a Mac-formatted drive, it may not be so smooth.

HFSExplorer is designed specifically to let Windows users dig around in Mac filesystems. It has a GUI, so it doesn't look all that different from Windows Explorer. It works with the older HFS, HFS+ extended, and even HFSX with case sensitive filenames. Mount that networked Mac volume, or even your HFS+ formatted iPod. It also lets you get into Mac formatted .DMG disk image files.

HFSExplorer is primarily a Windows program, although since it is written in Java you could use it on your Mac or Linux machine if necessary.

Download HFSExplorer

Organize files and folders with Folder Axe

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Folder Axe

How much stuff can you keep track of at one time? Personally, once I run out of fingers and toes, things can get kind of dicey. But if you've got a folder on your computer that has dozens or hundreds or more files in it, how do you propose to figure out what you've really got? One way to organize things is to take big piles and break them down into little piles. But where do you start?

Folder Axe, in spite of its rather brutal-sounding name, is a helpful tool that can help you get organized when you're feeling overwhelmed. You can choose to have your files divided up by the numbers—break them down into ten directories, for example—as well as by file size (give me a bunch of 250 MB folders, if you please), or based on their names, file types and extensions. or dates. If you like, it can also then ZIP those files up into archives and add 256-bit encryption as well. You'll get so organized, you may be tempted to go back and just create more files.

Folder Axe is a Windows application. It runs under WinXP and later, and requires version 4 of the .NET Framework.

Download Folder Axe

Speed up the file copying process

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Copy Handler

If you've got a few files here and want to put copies of them other there, you can issue the "copy" command in a DOS box, or drag-and-drop files in Windows Explorer. If you're dealing with more than a few files, or if you have folders full of some files you want to copy and some that you don't, then your life can get more complicated. That's where a tool like Copy Handler can come in handy.

Copy Handler is a WYSIWYG tool that helps you copy or move files more quickly and efficiently. Specify the files you want to copy by extension, size, date, or file attributes. Set the priority of your copy session, so that your work doesn't come to a screeching halt as you wait for the files to be copied. You can even specify multiple copies for your destination if you like.

Copy Handler is an open source Windows application, and a free download.

Download Copy Handler

Why did that application crash?

Sunday, September 11th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of WinCrashReport

It's a fact of life: applications crash. Whether it's an undiscovered bug in a program, or a bad set of data, there will come a time when your work will come to an abrupt halt and you will be presented with a message box bearing some kind of indecipherable error message telling you that it's game over. Have you ever though that it might be handy to have a little more information than that to work with?

WinCrashReport wants to help you figure it all out. Rather than merely telling you that your application "has encountered a problem and needs to close", it lets you see what really happened in there. If you're not a total egghead, you may not be able to make heads or tails out of the information, but you do have the ability to save it off to a report to examine at your leisure, and maybe, just maybe, you'll see something that gives you a clue as to what went wrong. Personally, I'm guessing it was mischievous little elves in there.

WinCrashReport is a Windows application. It works with Win2000 and later; 32-bit only.

Download WinCrashReport

Batch file renaming made easy

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of Advanced Renamer

It's your computer, so you really should be the one calling the shots. You're trying to get some work done, whether it's stuff you're getting paid for, or some personal project you're involved with, and it's all going to go faster and more smoothly if you can set things up in a way that makes sense to you. So you lay out the windows on your desktop just so, you make sure you're wearing your lucky socks, and you know already you're going to be more productive. Sometimes that means tweaking filenames as well.

Advanced Renamer is a tool that lets you bend those filenames to your will. If you're faced with a pile of digital photos, you can tweak those generic default filenames into something that makes more sense by maybe incorporating the subject or location into the name. Add or remove text, change from lower- to upper case, add numbers, and more. It supports regular expressions, so you have maximum flexibility in the renaming process. And there's a preview, so you can see what your changes will look like before you make them—and find out that you didn't get it quite right.

Advanced Renamer is a Windows application. It should run on systems with Windows 2000 and later.

Download Advanced Renamer

Fix broken files

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

runs on Windows
screenshot of File Repair

Stuff gets broken. If you find something broken around the house, a bottle of glue and a roll of duct tape may be just what you need. If the car goes on the fritz and you're handy with a wrench and screwdriver maybe you can do something about it, or at least take it off to the mechanic. If a file on your computer gets broken, it's not so easy to do anything about it.

File Repair is a tool that can give you a hand with broken files. If you've got a corrupted Word DOC or an Excel XLS that isn't hitting on all cylinders, give it a try. An image or multimedia file won't open? Let File Repair take a shot at it. Corrupted PDFs, broken databases, even ZIP archives that have lost their zip are all fair game. It goes in and grabs whatever data it can find in your file and saves it off to a new (hopefully) usable file. While there's no guarantee that it'll be able to resurrect your busted file, it's certainly worth a shot to see what this tool can do for you.

File Repair is a Windows application.

Download File Repair