Posts Tagged 'Windows'

Control Panel Replacement – FreeFile Review

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nuePanel is an application that attempts to organize many of the settings available in Windows. The sheer number of tools, Control Panel apps, and settings in Windows make that a daunting task, but neuPanel does a very good job of cutting through the clutter.

The Good – It appears that every possible Windows setting is available. The interface is simple, with rows of buttons in the main window and tabs across the top. The buttons are in alphabetical order, which speeds up finding things. ‘God Mode’ is available as ‘Control Panel (God Mode)’ under the ‘Troubleshooting’ tab.

The Bad – A few of the command buttons don’t work (they report ‘cannot find the file specified’). Finding what you want can still take a little time, due to the quantity of buttons available.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

I’ve found neuPanel to be a timesaver. It provides one location to find the setting you need. This gets more valuable as Microsoft hides more and more settings. Most Windows users should find neuPanel useful.

Download neuPanel HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

GFXplorer – FreeFile Review

GFX

GFXplorer is a utility that gathers information about your Windows PC along with shortcuts to many Windows tools and utilities. It is only available for Windows. The program has a clean, simple, tabbed interface. The first three tabs contain information about the software and hardware on your computer. An ‘Export’ button allows you to save all of this info as a text document. The fourth tab, ‘Tools’, is the really interesting one. It has shortcuts to 18 of Windows’ tools and utilities.

The good – The ‘Tools’ tab is what makes this application a keeper. All of these tools are built into Windows, but finding them without a program like GFXplorer can be challenging. Some of the tools, such as ‘Display color calibration’ and ‘Malware Removal Tool’, are incredibly useful ones that Microsoft has decided to hide. Having all of these tools in one location can be a great time saver. The.zip download is a stand-alone program that doesn’t require installation; just unzip and run.

The bad – I found nothing to dislike about GFXplorer, but I have two suggestions to improve it. More system information (such as Windows keys and more details about storage drives) could be displayed. Since the ‘Tools’ tab is most useful, it should be the first tab, the tab that the program opens to.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —
Every Windows user should have GFXplorer. Having all of these tools available in one location is very handy. Shortly after I installed GFXplorer, I pinned it to my Start menu. I rarely pin programs to my Start menu, so that is a very strong endorsement from me. Get it today.
Download GFXplorer HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

Photo Pos Pro – FreeFile Review

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Photo Pos Pro is yet another photo editor. It has everything that is expected in a free photo editor and is only available for Windows. A paid version with a selection of more advanced tools is also offered.

— The good – Photo Pos Pro comes with plenty of tools and filters. It has all of the standard adjustments nomally available in most photo editors and many more. I like the right side palette, with the history, layers, and color palettes always visible.

— The bad – The user interface needs work. Very little customization by the user is possible. Every button and toolbar is visible by default, which creates a rather busy workspace. Unneeded tools can be hidden, but they are labeled cryptically (e.g. “CommandBarStripElement1”) in the ‘Customize’ context menu. Ugh! I don’t like the blue highlighting, used throughout the workspace, and I found no way to change it. Care needs to taken when downloading the program, as the latest version (3.0.5) can only be downloaded from Download.com, where unwanted programs are often included with downloads. I was able to download Photo Pos Pro without any ‘extras’. As with all free photo editors, the selection tools leave much to be desired. Tools not available in the free version, are not grayed-out, but instead lead to a web page where the Premium version can be purchased for $25. Ugh!

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

Photo Pos Pro has me confused. I want to recommend it because it is possibly one of the most complete free photo editors, however, too many things made me say “ugh!”. In the end, I give it a thumbs-down.

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com.

Microsoft Windows Just Turned 30 – A Short History Of Everyone’s Favorite OS

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ZDnet published this short history of Windows – from its humble beginnings in 1985 to today.

ZDnet article HERE

Windows 10 Free Upgrade — Yes or No?

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Should I upgrade to Windows 10? For most people the answer is yes. If you are currently running Windows 7 or 8.1, you undoubtedly know that Microsoft is offering a free upgrade to the newest version of Windows – Windows 10.

—  My Experience – I have been using Windows 10 for the past month on my main PC, and have experienced very few issues. I upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 on a new self-built PC. The upgrade was practically perfect, with only the video driver needing to be re-installed; everything else worked flawlessly. With the correct video driver installed, my new PC hummed along for 3 weeks … and then, Microsoft began issuing updates. One of these updates failed, and daily attempts to re-install also failed. A week of Googling did not find a solution. The Windows 10 subreddit finally provided a cure and all is well once more.

—  The Good – It’s difficult to find any features that make Windows 10 a must-have. The most important thing is that Microsoft did not mess up anything too badly and they rolled back most of the Windows 8 changes that users hated. The Start menu is back and most of the ‘Metro’ touch interface has been hidden. A Windows 7 user will not feel completely lost on Windows 10.

—  The Bad – As with every new version of Windows, Microsoft moved around and hid numerous features and controls. They did an especially good job hiding the Control Panel. It cannot be found in any of its old locations, but it is easily accessed with ‘Windows key + X’ keyboard shortcut. The Start Menu may be back, but it isn’t the Windows 7 type menu. I didn’t like the tiles on the menu, nor the inability to customize the menu, so I installed Classic Shell. It brings back the classic Start Menu, with tons of adjustments, and it’s free.

Who should not upgrade – Anyone running Windows Media Center should avoid Windows 10. Windows Media Center has been removed from Windows 10 and is no longer supported.

—  —  —  —  The Bottom Line  —  —  —  —

Windows 10 is the future, so resistance is futile. However, you may want to wait. The free upgrade is being offered until July of 2016, and a major update to Windows 10 is scheduled for November 2015, so waiting a couple months may be prudent. Much has been written about privacy issues with Windows 10, but I feel these concerns are overblown. Some default privacy setting may be less than ideal, but they can be changed. I think most users will be happy with Windows 10. If not, you can revert to your previous version of Windows anytime in the first 30 days.

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

Hardwipe – FreeFile Review

FFR-2015Hardwipe-header

When a file is deleted from a pc, that file still exists on the computer. To actually erase the file, a secure delete utility is needed to overwrite the data. Hardwipe is such a utility. It is Windows only and is available in free and paid versions. The free version which is sufficient for most users, has ads in the program window ($13 upgrade will remove the ads).

Hardwipe has both features that I consider essential in a secure delete utility – context menu integration and Recycle Bin erasure. Many of the other free apps lack one, or both, of those features. Context menu integration means that a file can be erased through a simple, quick right-click. Recycle Bin erasure is self-explanatory. Data can be overwritten 1,2,3,7, or 35 times (one time should suffice). The ads in the free version are not too intrusive – they remain contained to one corner of the program window. Hardwipe works fast and has an accurate progress bar.

— — — — The Bottom Line — — — —

I have used Hardwipe on both Windows 7 and 10 and found it to be fast and reliable on both. It has replaced my long time secure delete program Eraser, which seems to have gotten a bit slow and clunky in recent years. I recommend Hardwipe over Eraser, due to it’s speed and reliability. Hardwipe is definitely a keeper.

Download Hardwipe HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com

IrfanView – FreeFile Review

FFR-2015IrfanView-headerIf I were to describe IrfanView in a few words, I would classify it as a graphics viewer/editor, but it is much more than that. Among it’s most notable features is screen capture, icon creation, and batch editing. Plug-ins greatly expand it’s functionality with things such as video player, CD/DVD burning, and slideshow creation.

IrfanView is most effective when used as your system graphics viewer. This is the program that will open to view any graphics file that you click on. Why is this awesome? IrfanView is fast. It supports a ton of formats. It is a first class, simple photo editor. Click on a JPG (or any supported format) and it opens instantly in a photo editor – ready to edit. This function is easy to enable during installation; select the “Images only” button on the ‘associate extensions’ page.

The photo editing controls are rather basic, but give give excellent results. A basic drawing function is included. Program menus and options are extensive and may confuse the new user, but seasoned users will appreciate all of the options. IrfanView is only available for Windows.

– – – – The Bottom Line – – – –

I give IrfanView my highest recommendation. I love its speed and basic photo editing functions. In 1999, I first used it to create an icon, and soon learned that it made an excellent system graphics viewer. I have been using it daily for 16 years and consider it an essential part of Windows. Go get it today.
Download IrfanView HERE

Read more FreeFile Reviews at DanKostecki.com.


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