Posts Tagged 'Windows'

Hardwipe – FreeFile Review


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

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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

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Vivaldi – A New Browser – FreeFile Review




Vivaldi is a new browser, from the people who were responsible for the Opera browser. It is currently a technical preview, not a finished product. It can run on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

What Vivaldi does well –
Render pages – Vivaldi does an excellent job in rendering web pages. I found no issues on how pages were displayed. The user interface is customisable with some innovative features – some good (a Tools Panel that can be displayed on either side) – some not so good (History is a trash can icon near the minimize/maximize/close buttons). A Notes app with a Screen Capture tool is included in the Tools Panel.

Now, the bad news –
Most of the issues I had were mostly minor annoyances, however, when one spends so much time in the browser, little problems become major issues. The browser will not open to the home page; it opens to the last page viewed. The Bookmarks Panel does not remember settings (scroll down the bookmarks, go to another panel, and when you return to the bookmarks, it is back at the top of the list). Inconsistency – some items require a double-click to activate, others activate with a single click. The Screen Capture tool can only be activated by creating a new note; Screen Capture should be a stand-alone tool in the Tools Panel. Support for extensions is promised, but it is not available now.

– – – – The Bottom Line – – – –
Vivaldi shows promise, but it is not ready yet. With security being so important, I cannot recommend an unfinished browser. Perhaps someday, Vivaldi will be a top-notch browser, but today is not that day.

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PhotoDemon – FreeFile Review





PhotoDemon is yet another simple photo editor. It is, in a word, basic; in my opinion, too basic. It is for Windows only.
What I like about PhotoDemon –
It’s portable – no installation needed – just unzip and launch. The Quick Fix bar has Clarity and Vibrance adjustments along with the basic color adjustments. Very nice. It comes with a large collection of high quality filters. Most of the filters have relevant adjustments. Layers are enabled, but with few features. All of the standard color and lighting adjustments are available. All adjustments are on sliders.
Now, the bad news –
As with most free photo editors, the selection tools are basic and lacking. There is no Healing Brush or Clone Tool, so spot corrections and spot adjustments are not practical. There is no Text Tool.
– – – – The Bottom Line – – – –
To make simple adjustments to photos, or if you are really into filters, PhotoDemon is a good choice. The nice selection of filters is the only reason to consider this program.
Download PhotoDemon HERE

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Understanding the Blue Screen of Death (Infographic)

bsod1 produced an infographic that gives basic information about the dreaded BSoD, the screen that completely baffles most Windows users. Now, it can be somewhat less mysterious.

Read the infographic HERE.


Easy Context Menu – FreeFile Review

FFR-WP-logoEConMenuEasy Context Menu adds several useful options to Windows context (right-click) menus. Basically, it puts some of Windows most useful tools just a right-click away. It may not be for the casual Windows user, but it is simple enough that anyone can use it. It is Windows only.

Easy Context Menu requires no installation; just unzip and run. Its simple interface is has seven sections – five for the various context menu types and two for additional sub menus. Adding menu items is very easy. Simply select the check box for an item and click the ‘Apply Changes’ button (green plus sign/mouse icon), and the item is added to the context menu. Options for each item include show/hide an icon for the item, enable shift-click, and to position the item top/middle/bottom on the context menu. Right click the item (in Easy Context Menu’s window) to edit these options. The two sub menus are very useful. One, has the shut down options from the start menu. The other sub menu, System Tools, allow you to select up to 14 tools to be on one sub menu. Tool options include : MSconfig, Control Panel, Sticky Notes, Clipping Tool, RegEdit and more. A favorite tweak of mine is hidden under the Tools menu. It allows the removal of arrows and “Shortcut to” from all shortcuts.

– – – – The Bottom Line – – – –

Easy Context Menu performed flawlessly on Windows 7. If you enjoy tweaking Windows, Easy Context Menu is an excellent tool.

Download HERE – scroll down, look for white “Download” button
or direct download from SnapFiles.

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FastStone Image Viewer – FreeFile Review

FFR-WP-logofaststoneFastStone Image Viewer does what is expected (browse for images, edit and convert them) plus some things not expected. Standout tools include a screen capture tool, batch rename and convert, a slideshow builder, and a very nice clone/heal brush. It is Windows only. A portable version, that needs no installation, is available.

FastStone Image Viewer offers two distinctly different user interfaces. One is a traditional windowed layout. The other one is Full Screen, which displays images full screen, with menus and toolbars available as pop-outs that only appear when your mouse is moved to the edges of the screen. I found the Full Screen mode too distracting and switched to the windowed interface. Switching back and forth is easy through toolbar buttons or Settings menu. I was most impressed with the image editing tools. There are all the standard image and color adjustments as well as curves and levels. My favorite tool is the clone/heal brush, which works very well in removing blemishes from photos. Surprisingly few filters are included. A simple set of drawing tools is available (the text tool is found there). Each adjustment appears in its own window and includes a very handy button to temporarily show the image before any adjustments were made. All major graphic formats are supported. Slideshows with music and transitions can be created and saved as .exe.

– – – –  The Bottom Line – – – –

I was very impressed with the image editing tools. Someone needing to make quick, simple edits will be pleased with this program. Everything works well. I give it two thumbs up.

Download FastStone Image Viewer HERE.

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