What are your recs for core programs?

After two and a half years with my current box, I’m finally building myself a new PC and upgrading to Vista x64. One of the main chores involved in setting up a new system, of course, is installing that core set of programs I use for simple, everyday tasks. However, I’ve realized as I’ve looked over the list of programs to install that my choice of software has grown very stagnant. Surely better programs have come along to handle some of these tasks, especially the quick little network clients of various types.

So, let me hit you with some names of basic (and sometimes ancient) programs, and let me see what you all think about possible alternatives to them.




-EditPad Lite





Some of these I want to replace. Some I might possibly replace, even if a more capable replacement costs money. And one or two of these you may have to pry from my cold, dead hands. But I’d like to hear your thoughts. What do you use for these purposes, and why? If you’ve upgraded from something on this list, why did you do so? Thanks.

Comments closed
    • ChronoReverse
    • 12 years ago

    Surprised no one mentioned InfraRecorder. Why bother with something like Nero when you can use InfraRecorder =)

    • morphine
    • 12 years ago

    – FlashFXP instead of WS_FTP. Filezilla if Free is a requirement.

    Why? FlashFXP’s interface is leagues above all the others. That’s why I paid for it.

    – Notepad2 instead of EditPad (free).

    Stupidly fast, very light, no installation required, has syntax highlighting by default on a couple dozen languages/filetypes, including .ini and .conf.

    – Pidgin instead of Trillian (free/OSS).

    Why? Trillian crashes with everything and anything, and has lots of problems with messages not being delivered or people not seeing each other (at least in my experience). Pidgin is ugly but it works.

    – CDBurnerXP. I was a Nero fanboy until I saw this (free).

    Not much to say here. Nero’s become a bloated cesspool, and CDBurnerXP is just as easy if not easier to use than Nero. And it’s free to boot.

    Let me add one: ImgBurn. Simple-but-effective CD/DVD image reader/writer, with support for all kinds of images.

      • sigher
      • 12 years ago

      There are more than one ‘notepad2”s it seems, that’s what you get with such an original name eh, I recall way back when someone advised it I tried the wrong one and it was awful.
      Which brings me to my question why didn’t you put in some links?

    • BenBasson
    • 12 years ago

    – FileZilla (in place of WS FTP and WinSCP)
    – Notepad++ (in place of EditPad Lite)
    – Foobar2000 (in place of Winamp)

    The latest Foobar has a much better (more easily customisable) GUI than previous editions. Apart from the hideous settings dialog, which is steadily becoming more friendly, it’s a solid player, with low CPU usage and a good set of features. I never liked players with over-the-top skinned GUIs, so Winamp never sat right with me.

    I’ve been using Notepad++ instead of other text editors because I like the tabbed interface and the (sometimes insane) functionality it provides. Some of the GUI is hideous, but I don’t find this a problem.

    FileZilla – I used it to replace WinSCP and BulletProof FTP. Basically, it gives me a one-stop-shop for my FTP and SFTP needs with an interface somewhat like WS FTP, but better. WinSCP just felt too busy.

    Other stuff I use includes:
    – WinRAR – best archiving tool that exists in terms of functionality and GUI
    – Firefox/Thunderbird
    – PopMan – system tray POP/IMAP checker
    – Rainlendar – very nice calendar application, offers Google Calendar integration as well
    – PodPuppy – because other Podcast clients are written by crazy people

    • FireGryphon
    • 12 years ago

    I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who wrote about Notepad++. I checked it out, and this program is… I’m overwhelmed. I need to breathe.

      • continuum
      • 12 years ago

      No kidding… Notepad++ looks pretty awesome. I’ve checked out Editpad and Textpad and I think they did a little too much, looked a little too busy…

      Notepad++ may do too much, and it has quirks, but it looks a little more clean and hence looks like it might be a little closer to ideal…

      What I used to pack that’s changed below:

      AIM 5.5.3572 + DeadAIM 4.5 (getting old…)
      Winamp (was on 2.95, but after changing about 10 options, 5.52 is now decent)

      What I currently pack:

      Acrobat 8 Pro (site license for me, so it’s dirt cheap… Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader otherwise)
      CuteFTP (again, on a site license for me, so it’s cheap. Prefer it to FileZilla and whatnot)
      CutePDF + Ghostscript (for installations where I won’t be using Acrobat 8 Pro)
      distributed.net client
      Exact Audio Copy
      Google Earth
      MS Office (gotta love site licenses… would use OpenOffice otherwise)
      Photoshop CS3 (more site license love…)
      QTLite (actually I normally pack both QTLite and Quicktime Alternative, occasionally I need MediaPlayerClassic)
      SSH Secure Connect (or Filezilla, but I’m used to the interface here. *shrug*)
      Treepad Lite
      Winamp (was on 2.95, but after changing about 10 options, 5.52 is now decent)

    • eitje
    • 12 years ago

    I recommend the following:

    -EditPad Lite —> Notepad++
    -Trillian —> Pidgin
    -Nero —> CDBurnerXP or Burnatonce

    The last item really depends on what you do with Nero.

    • lucas1985
    • 12 years ago

    Do you encode to lossless? If so, which codec do you use?
    I’m using WavPack.

    • flip-mode
    • 12 years ago


    • emi25
    • 12 years ago

    I have a 2GB SD card. Let me see what I put in the kit directory:

    AVG, KAV, SpyBotSD, WindowsDefender

    MagicISO, Nero, cdex

    Firefox, Skype, OrbitDownloader, CuteFTP, WAMP

    AcrobatReader, FoxItReader, OpenOffice, Office 2007 compatybility pack for 2003


    Video player:
    IVIVO, QuickTime

    CPUZ, WinRAR, Pspad, WinAmp

    • lucas1985
    • 12 years ago

    I’ll name some of the great programs I consider a must in a Windows environment:
    – Cygwin.
    – DOSBox + VirtualBox + VMware Server.
    – OpenVPN.
    – Notepad ++ (there are tons of good text editors)
    – Convert.
    – Firefox (Opera on old machines) + Thunderbird
    – PDF-related : PDF Xchange Viewer, Ghostscript , GSView and Bullzip PDF printer.
    – DJVU viewer.
    – Oxygen Office Professional (Open Office fork)
    – Freemind + InkScape.
    – PeaZip
    – HashTab + FileAlyzer.
    – MS PowerToys.
    – SyncBack free.
    – MozBackup.
    – Drive Image XML.
    – EAC + REACT + foobar2000 + Mp3Tag
    – Zoom Player + FFDShow + DirectShow FilterPack.
    – DVDisaster.
    – ImgBurn + Burrn.
    – Free Download Manager
    – Telescope + X1 free client + Cathy + Zotero Firefox extension + Customize Google.
    – AM-Deadlink.
    – XNView.
    – CSVed.
    – Money Manager Ex.
    – XYexplorer or FreeCommander.
    – JKDefrag + contig + PageDefrag + ATF Cleaner.
    – Lots of Sysinternals tools.
    Security: built-in XP tools, SuRun, Jetico v1, NoScript, Cookie Safe, Tiny Watcher, Runscanner, other tools.

    And lots more 😀

      • just brew it!
      • 12 years ago

      Oh, yeah… how could I have possibly forgotten to mention EAC? Shame on me. Best CD ripper. Period.

      And the LAME MP3 encoder is a must-have as well (both Foobar2000 and EAC will use it if it is installed).

    • Swampangel
    • 12 years ago

    As far as your list goes, I use these alternatives:

    Programmer’s Notepad
    ImgBurn (has enough authoring ability for simple backups)

    Other free apps I always install:

    Irfanview (view, crop, rotate, resize images)
    Paint.NET and/or the GIMP (image editing)
    Media Player Classic and VLC (if one won’t play a file, the other probably will)
    Inkscape (vector graphics) and Blender (3D modeling) when I’m feeling creative

    • SuperSpy
    • 12 years ago

    Filezilla (works well for me for FTP over SSL)
    Trillian (although one of these days I should look into an alternative)
    Media Player Classic (don’t forget ffdshow, and quicktime and real alternative)
    Virtual Clonedrive (so I don’t have to carry all those pesky game CDs with my laptop)

    • Flying Fox
    • 12 years ago

    I use FileZilla FTP simply because it’s free. The GUI is adequate.

    • zgirl
    • 12 years ago

    winSCP is ok, I hate putty. SecureCRT and SecureFX FTW!

    I love tabbed connection tabs.

    I prefer pidgin over Trillian and I used to use textpad but the screwed the last version so I went with ultraedit.

    • Corrado
    • 12 years ago

    FireFox 3 (I can’t live without the new autocomplete)
    Outlook 2007
    Adobe Reader
    Nortel Contivity VPN Client

    Thats pretty much it. I can make due without anything else.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 12 years ago

    Daemon Tools
    Media Player Classic

    I don’t use Trillian any more, as I’ve found Meebo to be easier to use

    • holophrastic
    • 12 years ago

    UltraEdit is invaluable — especially when you replace bars with shortcuts
    ATNotes — probably too ancient

    • titan
    • 12 years ago

    I’ve been running Notepad2 on my computer for a while now. In fact, I replaced the original Notepad with Notepad2. It’s an excellent program that’s essentially Microsoft’s Notepad, but with syntax highlighting for all sorts of programming languages and config files, and support to choose which character encoding to use. I like the simple interface. I might have to check out EditPad Lite too.

    UTF-8 FTW!

    §[< http://www.flos-freeware.ch/notepad2.html<]§ Why bother with WS FTP when you have WinSCP?

      • pikaporeon
      • 12 years ago

      Another good one is Q10, but its fullscreen only. [go figure]

    • just brew it!
    • 12 years ago

    Yet another vote for Foobar2000 instead of Winamp. In addition to the tabbed playlists, I find the batch file processing tools to be quite useful. Audacity + Foobar2000 is pretty much all you need for playing, editing, processing and converting audio files.

    I generally don’t bother with PuTTY, since I always install Cygwin on my Windows boxes. I find the Cygwin SSH client to be perfectly adequate, and having the exact same tool on both the Windows and Linux side means one less tool I have to remember how to use.

    • lycium
    • 12 years ago

    64bit 7-zip is an absolute must

      • ucisilentbob
      • 12 years ago

      Spectacular, Thanks. It’s replaced WinRAR for me.

    • indeego
    • 12 years ago

    Firefox, prefs.js, and bookmarks.html
    paint.net(heavy editing)
    irfanview(open/quick mod)

    That is all I care about. Everything else I remote desktop to another machine to get other stuff done. That box works so well I don’t dare upgrade itg{<.<}g

    • pikaporeon
    • 12 years ago

    The usual suspects:
    Foxit Reader

    Other than that
    text editing1: vi. Theres never a need for any more
    text editing2: unless you have an asus eee with winxp and you want a ncie fullscreen editor, where I turn to Q10
    SimpLite – Encryption for Pidgin and MSN. I know OTR is popular, but this supports the default MSN client instead of just pidgin
    0irc – My windows IRC client. Its small and has no features. I dont need features to sit in one channel and talk
    BitchX – CLI IRC for the win

    • ucisilentbob
    • 12 years ago

    For all my DVD and TV related ripping and watching:
    Klite Codec Pack
    AnyDVD (An absolute Must!)

    Productivity wise:
    Office 2007
    Adobe CS3 Master Collection


    DVD Mastering:
    DAEMON Tools

    Java & Flash

    7zip x64

    Media Management and watching:
    None (See below)
    I used to use Winamp but i’ve completely ditched it for Vista Media Center

    • MixedPower
    • 12 years ago

    Another vote for Foobar2000. Make sure to get either the kernel streaming plug-in or the ASIO plug-in if your sound card supports it.

    • FireGryphon
    • 12 years ago

    Pidgn (open source IM client)
    Foxit Reader (for PDF files)
    Winamp 2.8
    FireFox with FireFTP
    7-Zip (though I really want to replace that with a better one)

    Flash and the Java runtime environment are good to keep on hand for intalls, too.

    • crazybus
    • 12 years ago

    Media Player Classic
    MeGui modern media encoder
    DaemonTools or VirtualCloneDrive
    Adobe Reader
    &#956;Torrent (hmm….j.azz doesn’t like unicode characters?)

    On XP:
    TaskSwitchXP – awesome Alt-tab replacement
    patched uxtheme.dll
    CDBurnerXP (kinda buggy….)

      • sigher
      • 12 years ago

      Good list with the notable exception of itunes being in it.

    • Nitrodist
    • 12 years ago

    Alcohol 120%
    Acrobat Reader (obviously)
    Flash (obviously?)
    mIRC with NNS

    • DrDillyBar
    • 12 years ago

    In general, in no particular order, I install:
    Office 2k7 Enterprise (onenote rules!)
    MSN and mIRC (trillian got ditched along the way)
    Alcohol 52%
    Acrobat reader
    DivX Creator
    and a RAMDrive driver

    That’s about it for functionality on my part. there are a few dozen additional things that get installed, but that’s the core of it.

    System in question:
    C2D E6420 @ 1333FSB | P5W DH | 4096MB’s DDR2 667 | Diamond Radeon HD 3870 512MB / Theatre 650Pro | X-Fi | ~1.6TB SATA2 ‘cuda’s | Dell 2005FPW | LG GSA-4160B | Ultimate x64

      • sigher
      • 12 years ago

      I don’t like how the new mirc calls home to check your registration, I don’t want to be tracked.
      I personally also don’t like winamp, and not just because v5 gave me a virus.
      As for acrobat reader, I trust you use version 7 or earlier and not 8, else I pity you and your infections.
      And then there’s DivX, which always was a bit buggy for me and of course it’s a well-known secret that the divx player contacts home each time you play something with it, you might want to ditch that part of the bundle, or block the url it contacts.

    • sroylance
    • 12 years ago

    I ditched trillian a while back for gaim (now pidgin). Development on pidgin has been rapid over the past year, it’s far and away the best IM and IRC client I’ve used.

    I use scite for text editing, it’s free and I’m pretty happy with it.

    putty and winscp are still the best windows clients for SSH and SCP, at least IMO.

    I use foobar2k for playback of my lossless CD rips and itunes for everything else, mostly because I have to load it for my iphone.

      • Cyril
      • 12 years ago

      Add another vote for Pidgin, Scite, and Foobar.

      I paid for Trillian Pro a while back, but I got so frustrated by the lack of continued support that I moved to Pidgin, and I’m now quite happy with it. The interface (surprisingly) mixes in much better with Windows, it’s less buggy, and it works without getting in the way (something Trillian had trouble with). My only beef is the current system tray icon behavior, but that’s not a big deal.

      Scite is also great. The amount of time you can save with the search-and-replace function’s regular expression support and the Lua macros is phenomenal. Not to mention it’s one of the only Windows text editors I’ve used that doesn’t have hideously garish syntax highlighting.

      As for Foobar, I just love how customizable it is. Especially with the new user interface introduced in the latter 0.9.x releases. And tabbed playlists are just nice.

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