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: 03.08.21




1. Install the OS

  • Install the Service Packs and updates using Windows Update utility

2. Update your PC

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 Drivers – don’t use the disks, find out if you have an NVidia or ATI card and download the latest drivers for your machine
  • PatchMyPC – free patches for over 300 common softwares

3. Browsers

4. Media Players

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.

  • iDrive – My choice for affordable backup – better than BackBlaze, Carbnoite, and Amazon
  • Cobian Backup – great for local backup

7. Cloud File Management

8. Media Editing Apps

  • Audacity – the best free tool for editing mp3 and other sound files (great for podcasters)
  • Open Broadcaster System (OBS) – for recording your gameplay and editing for your YouTube channel. Ask your kids.

9. DVD Ripping

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. Network Utilities

  • Internet Connectivity Monitor – think your internet keeps going down but aren’t sure? Use this free java app from Google to find out.
  • SpeedTestLogger – For a running test of your internet speeds. Not sure how accurate, but nice.

13. 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
  • HWInfo – hardware info
  • HWMonitor – voltates, cpu temps, fan speeds
  • Pure Text – converts whatever you copy to the clipboard to plain text.
  • Notepad++ – the best text editor.
  • Ultimate Boot CD
  • uTorrent
  • 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
  • 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.

14. 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.