I seem to build or rebuild a Windows hard drive regularly (like again today), so here’s my updated list of what to install.

Last Update: 05.10.2017

Changes:

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MY INSTALLATION PROCEDURE

1. Install the OS

  • Install the Service Packs and updates using Windows Update utility

2. Update your drivers

If you have a driver disk for any of the following, install them

  • Driver Booster – this freemium app is great for updating your drivers – and you don’t have to upgrade to actually do the updates.
  • Graphics Card (don’t use the disks, find out if you have an NVidia or ATI card and download the latest drivers for your machine

3. Browsers

4. Media Players

  • Short Orange – right now, the best free music player for podcasts on Windows – even has playback speed adjustment (unlike others here)
  • Audio Output Switcher – Allows you to easily switch between headset and speakers on your pc
  • Amazon Music Player for PC (if you have Amazon Prime)
  • Media Player Codec Pack – yup, for some apps, you still need to do this. Like if you record vids with Fraps, Windows Movie Maker can’t properly display the avi vids.

5. MS Apps (MS Office, etc.)

6. Backup Software

If you don’t have a backup solution, either local or offsite, you are a fool! For $5/mo, you can have online backup. Do it now.

7. Cloud File Management

8. Media Editing Apps

  • Audacity – the best free tool for editing mp3 and other sound files (great for podcasters)
  • Auto-stitch – great for putting panoramas together
  • JPEG Crops – awesome for batch cropping. Doesn’t have smart crop, but you can save a selection then auto apply it with a hotkey, very useful.
  • OBS

9. DVD Ripping

  • WinX DVD Ripper Platinum – great one-step ripper, paid version also supports high def
  •  Handbrake (great for converting to AppleTV format or whatever)
  • NOTE:  The following were popular, but are now either not available, or are unable to rip modern DVDs with newer DRM.

10. Security

  • AdwCleaner  – remove unwanted toolbars, browser hijackers, and other pernicious viruses.
  • Adaware – Not as good as Spybot, but used in tandem, they can catch most stuff.
  • AVG Antivirus – the best free antivirus program out there – love it.
  • FixIt (Microsoft) – fixes viruses buried in your registry (64bit OS only)
  • Malwarebytes – for those hard to remove items.
  • Spybot Search & Destroy – sounds fishy, works great
  • What’s My Computer Doing? – shows you what programs are accessing your hard drive in real time!

11. Cleanup Utils

  • CleanMem – frees up system memory from open and closed apps, amazing!
  • Crap Cleaner (cleans up unused DLLs and leftover install files, temp files, has registry repairer etc.).
  • Defraggler – great defrag program from the makers of CCleaner
  • Duplicate Cleaner – nice way to ID and delete dup files, esp. jpgs and mp3s.
  • Recuva – file recovery program from the makers of CCleaner
  • RED (Remove Empty Directories) – got lots of empty folders and don’t want to check each for files. This’ll do ya.
  • Revo Uninstaller (has a great feature that scans registry after uninstall to clean it)
  • SlimCleaner – awesome! Similar to Crap Cleaner, but more tools.
  • WinStep Start Menu Organizer – free tool that cleans up start menus (XP/Vista/Win7)

12. Misc. Utilities

There are lots of free apps out there, these are just the ones I need/use.

  • Classic Shell – want the good old Win 7 Start menu to come up when you click the windows key/icon? Yeah.
  • Double Driver – great free driver backup utility
  • Internet Connectivity Monitor – think your internet keeps going down but aren’t sure? Use this free java app from Google to find out.
  • Pure Text – converts whatever you copy to the clipboard to plain text.
  • WinDirStat –  great program for visualizing the files on your drives, and how much space they are taking up, and how much free space you have left
  • Textpad – my favorite free Text Editor (Notepad++ is also great)
  • Ultimate Boot CD
  • uTorrent
  • WinSplit – great way to manage your open windows with shortkeys, resizing, etc. No longer supported, but the best free one out there. AquaSnap is also popular, but not free.

13. Some other optional apps that may come in handy

  • 3D Mark – a very cool benchmarking app that tests your graphics card – cool to watch in action.
  • Fraps – display FPS (frames per second) in any app, including your games. Nice.
  • PC Inspector File Recovery – nice app to recover erased files (you can also try GetDataBack
  • TestDisk – OMG, if you’ve ever had Windows mess up your file partition on a data drive, and all of a sudden show all or part of it as “Unallocated,” this simple procedure will save your data.