Utilities for Windows I

Hard Drive Cleanup

WinDirStat is an excellent utility for visualizing your used disk space and drilling down to files that you can clean up, back up, and delete. It’s similar to SequoiaView and Steffen Gerlach’s Scanner, but even more powerful. You can drill down through a folder tree as well as highlight filetypes in the graphical representation. The next time my hard drive gets too full, this is the utility I’ll use to clean things up.

WinDirStat

It’s only weakness is that you can’t drill down in the visual representation once it’s built, unlike both SequoiaView and Scanner.

Scanner 0Scanner 1Scanner 2

Startup Management

AutoRuns is a very comprehensive utility for dealing with the bane of hidden startup programs. TSRs and daemons date back to prehistory, but starting with Win95 a lot of rude programs began adding themselves to the system tray. This utility exposes all of the different hooks for management.

Autoruns

Task Management

Process Explorer can:

  • Kill processes Task Manager cannot
  • Find which process is preventing you from deleting a file
  • Match up processes to windows
  • Kill the root process of a multi-process app

Process Explorer

I find it invaluable on any Windows install.

Defragmentation

As you delete files from your hard drive, gaps of empty space form. New files get split into parts across these gaps. Over time, performance degrades. Some file systems are less vulnerable to this than others, but both NTFS and FAT are affected.

Windows comes with a defragmenter, but it has stayed uniformly crappy and slow since 95. I vastly prefer Vopt. Unfortunately, it’s shareware. It’s also well done, informative, and very fast.

Is there a good, free alternative?

Vopt

Gods, I need to defragment!

Hidden Settings

Tweak UI is a cliché choice, but I don’t know of a good replacement. My favourite tweak is to disable everything except Text Document from the New submenu in Explorer. I only ever create Folders and Text Documents that way, and Explorer significantly delays the display of the menu until all the useless icons are loaded.

Tweak UI

While you are there, grab Create Command Window Here and Power Calculator. Being able to open a command prompt window by right-clicking on a folder is very convenient. Meanwhile, Power Calc has a usable history, saveable formulas, primitive graphing, and super-handy unit conversions.

Published by

Leons Petrazickis

I'm a full-stack developer at IBM Digital Business Group. I do Ruby, Node, Python, Hadoop, Spark, as well as web scale devops with Docker and Terraform. My opinions are my own.