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: 08.02.26
MY INSTALLATION PROCEDURE
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
4. Media Players
- 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.)
- Grammarly for Word/Outlook
- Gsync – sync Outlook w/ Google Calendar
- PowerPoint Extras
- Import Photos in Batch, One per slide – Ever need to import a bunch of photos, one per slide, set to “maximum size” like for a wedding or funeral? This VB macro is pretty great, although it is designed for 3:4 slides, not the new narrower 16:9.
- Visio Stencils
- Zotero – my favorite
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
- Amazon Cloud App – I use it for cloud storage. Other apps that piggyback on it can be found here.
- MultCloud.com – great way to move files between cloud services. Also see GUIDE: Using Amazon Cloud for Personal Backup of Everything
- WinSCP – a great free FTP/SSH client
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
- WinX DVD Ripper Platinum – great one-step ripper, paid version also supports high def
- Handbrake (great for converting to AppleTV format or whatever)
- 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
- AllDup – clean, if not oldfashioned, great deduper.
- CleanMem – frees up system memory from open and closed apps, amazing!
- CCleaner (cleans up unused DLLs and leftover install files, temp files, has registry repairer etc.).
- Defraggler – great defrag program from the makers of CCleaner
- 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.
12. Network and Hardware Utilities
- Bitmeter2 – It’s not going to win any design awards, but BitMeter 2, a program for monitoring your PC’s bandwidth usage, offers a nice set of features.
- CPUZ – Great for seeing all the data about your CPU. mainboard, Memory, graphics, etc. in real time.
- 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.
- AquaSnap – snap your windows better than the default functionality.
- HWInfo – hardware info
- HWMonitor – voltates, cpu temps, fan speeds
- Pure Text – simple exe that converts whatever you copy to the clipboard to plain text.
- Notepad++ – the best text editor.
- Ultimate Boot CD
- 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
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.