After cleaning up my computer and having to reinstall everything I decided to tidy up my archives and take advantage of my brand new 1 TB Lacie external hard drive to put all those little tools I always end up installing sooner or later. These take up something like 170mb and can be really handy. Please note these aren't listed in any particular order, and I'm also excluding basic things like Firefox - that's mandatory
The best compression tool around. Has support for nearly all formats you'll ever use in your life. Make sure you tru the 7zip format, it has really good compression rates.
AVG Free 9.0
If you don't you should care about viruses and malware. It's all over the internet. But forget about expensive antivirus and security software packs like Norton antivirus that make your computer crawl like a slug. AVG has a free version of their antivirus software that has everything you need plus some stuff you probably don't - like the link scanner thing which is the first thing I disable after installing.
I used to be a Nero user, but after finding out about this free piece of DVD burning software I switched. It's faster and simpler, and that's all that there is to it! You can burn everything with this, files, images, music, you name it.
Tip: if you're looking for a portable solution you can try InfraRecorder portable.
VLC Media Player
This is simply the best media player around, and it's open source which means free. It plays nearly every format you can imagine (MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, DivX, MPEG-1, mp3, ogg, aac...). You can also convert stuff with it or even use it as a server.
I featured this one on my previous post so it's obviously worthy of being featured in this list also. It's a real pleasure to take screenshots like this. I love it when such simple tasks become so easy and so cool!
If you're looking for something similar but portable make sure you try Lightscreen.
In case you're like me and have always stared at MACs and their gorgeous launcher bar with all the bells and whistles and wondered why the hell doesn't Windows have something like this - well, now it has, and it's free. This is particularly useful for me with a dual monitor setup. Now I can free up the quicklaunch icons from Windows task bar and put all my shortcuts on the RocketDock on the 2nd monitor. It's completely customizable so you can play around a bit and get some new icons.
This is not really an essential tool... unless you have that nasty habit of throwing everything you find in your desktop which eventually becomes a really big mess which mimics your real life desk. Fences is like Ikea for your desktop. You keep the same shit around you, but you put in boxes so that it looks nicer!
This is a very compact tool designed to make copying and moving files easier and faster than usual. Like they say: TeraCopy uses dynamically adjusted buffers to reduce seek times. Asynchronous copy speeds up file transfer between two physical hard drives. It integrates seamlessly in the shell and has some additional features also. Very handy.
Here's Notepad on steroids! Of course, only useful for geeks like myself. You should have at least a small degree of that disease to find this useful. It's a really fast tool for code editing. It supports all the languages that you know, all that you'll never know and even those you never heard of. If you still miss any, Notepad++ is totally extensible, you can add whatever you like in there!
An absolute must for your own security. Spybot scans your computer and removes all the spyware you may have accumulated after watching all those weird sites you like so much!
Probably the best cleaning tool around. CCleaner cleans up your computer fast, removing unused files from your system, temporary files, cache, history, old registry entries and some more. If you want to keep your system running fast, go for it.
I hope you find this list useful.
Leave your comments and tell me what other free tools you use!