Free Tools / Utility Programs for Windows

First there was PFE.The basic Windows Notepad text editor in Windows 3.1was not up to the job of programming, editing large configuration files, etc, and so it was a great step forward to find Programmer's File Editor on a cover diskette that came free with the late Windows User magazine. (There were no downloads then - it was before the internet.) PFE had line numbering and could edit large files; it remained the primary text editor until the switch to Notepad++ in 2007. There did not seem to be much need for any other tools in those days.

Now there are many.In more recent times, the number, sophistication and robustness of free programs available to download has escalated, thanks in most part to the Open Source philosophy. A list of the various free utilities in use on my Windows XP SP3PC was promised to a friend some time ago; here it is at last.

N.B. Programs & add-ons still in use on Windows 10 are indicated by an asterisk (*).

Program Replaces Notes
* Notepad++ Windows Notepad Line numbering, tabs, syntax highlighting, etc.
xplorer2 Windows Explorer Tabs & dual panes
(like File Manager in Windows 3.1)
* Search Everything Windows Search Companion Instant filename search for local NTFS volumes;
difficult to appreciate its value until you try it
* Agent Ransack Windows Search Companion Weirdly named utility to search the content of files; unlike Windows Explorer Search, the filename extension does not matter, e.g. find HTML file with the search string within a tag
* Pure Text - Windows+V pastes just the plain text, omitting the formatting that Ctrl+V includes
* PDF Creator - Print to a PDF file
* Foxit Reader Adobe Reader Smaller, faster, fewer security update hassles
* HashTab - Show CRC-32, MD5, RipeMD, SHA-1 etc. hashes on a tab in the File Properties shell extension
* SysInternals Various Process Explorer, Autoruns, RootkitRevealer, etc.
PowerToys for Windows XP - Alt-Tab Task Switcher, TweakUI,
Open Command Window Here, etc.
Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel - Mount an ISO image file as a virtual disc drive
* CDBurnerXP Nero What joy no longer having the hassle of disabling Nero Scout and uninstalling all the useless add-ons
FileBox eXtender - Go straight to recent folder in file open dialog box
MyDefrag NT Defrag Awful name; good utility
* Bulk Rename Utility - Prefix a set of filenames with a sequence number, etc.
* Frhed - Binary file editor
* 7-Zip WinZip No longer any point in paying
(or suffering the nag screen)
* Axence NetTools - Collection of network tools:
Ping, TraceRoute, NSLookUp, etc.
* FileZilla FTP Voyager No longer any point in paying for an FTP client
* Gadwin PrintScreen PrintScreen Select screen area to capture;
automatically save to .jpg file
* Secunia PSI - Check for security updates/patches
(not just Microsoft)
* Firefox Internet Explorer Essential rather than optional now that
Microsoft has decreed that IE9 will not be available on Windows XP.
With various add-ons:
Adblock Plus
* British English Dictionary
IE Tab 2
* NoScript
Quo Vadis?
* Tab Mix Plus
* Web of Trust
23 June 2009 (updated 2016)