On each of my computers, I have a folder that I call “The Core Essentials”.  This is the collection of free software that I must download and install on any new computer of mine so that the computer feels like it is mine and works the way I want it to work.  To the best of my ability, I am going to provide you with the download page for this free software.  Since it is all free software, I’m not going to try to sell you on it.  Instead, I’ll just let you go to their website, and then let you study it for yourself to decide whether you want it or need it, or not.  If you put in the time to study it and learn about it, it increases the chances that you will actually use it.  Plus, if you go to their website for the download, you won’t be getting a polluted version that has been filled full of malware, and you will be getting their most recent version.  Consequently, I won’t have to keep coming back here to see which of these things have been updated since the last time I was here.

Remember, when it comes time for you to download these programs, be sure to download them from the owner’s website, because the other sites out there tend to fill them up with crapware (potentially unwanted programs, trojans, viruses, spybots, advertisements, downloaders, browser hijackers, and anything else they can think of to stick in there to promote their cause or destroy your computer.)  This web page could prove to be the most useful web page that you will find online, because I go to the source for all of my links here, rather than trying to feed you a bunch of garbage on the side.


Anti-Malware, Anti-Virus, and Cleaners:
Glary Utilities
Malicious Software Removal Tool
Spybot Search and Destroy

Archival or Compression Software:

Backup Software:
SyncBack Free
Macrium Reflect
Macrium Reflect Download Mirror

Chrome Stand-alone Installer

CD and DVD Burner:

Cloud Drives:
Google Drive

Note: This one is easy for me to overlook, because I only use it right after doing a clean install of an operating system in order to get updated drivers, and then I delete it after it has done its job. If Device Manager reports missing drivers, I have found that SlimDrivers can usually find them and install them.

DVD Player:
Media Player Classic – Home Cinema
Note: As most people know, Windows does not come with a DVD player. Some people will complain and want you to provide them with a free DVD player. I tried a bunch, and MPC-HC was the one that always worked right the very first time on every machine.
K-Lite Codec Pack
Note: The K-Lite Codec Pack can be used to make Windows Media Player actually play most everything out there.

eBook Reader:
Sumatra PDF

Hard Drive Info and Benchmark:
Crystal Disk Info
Crystal Disk Mark
Note: Get the portable ZIP versions, because the installed versions are filled with advertising and PUPs.

JAVA Runtime:
JAVA for your clients.

Kindle for PC Desktop Installer:
Kindle for PC

Office Software:
Note: If you don’t have an inexpensive copy of Microsoft Office from school or work, then LibreOffice is an absolutely essential download.

PDF Reader:
Adobe Reader
Sumatra PDF

PDF Writer:
DoPDF 7.3.398
Note: The most recent version of DoPDF is predatory, bloated, slow, and won’t uninstall. I avoid it like the plague. I use an older version that works just fine.

Statistics and Product Key Codes:
Belarc Advisor

Keyboard LEDs
Notepad ++
Shell Ex View

Web Development:

WiFi Scanner:
Acrylic WiFi

Windows 7 Recommendation:
Microsoft Security Essentials

Windows 8 Recommendation:
Windows Index Experience

Windows 8 Necessity:
Classic Shell

That’s it! I tend to run pretty lean. I only go after the Core Essentials.


In our Computer Discussion Forum, tell us what your favorite “Must-Have” Windows Programs are:

Must-Have Windows Programs

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Be Excellent to Each Other,

The Powers That Be

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