workspace-rikmayell (win 7 vista 64 bit software)

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Introduction

You have no doubt invested time, trouble and possibly money, in your "must have" software. This investment is largely protected when you move to Windows 7 / Vista 64 and, if not, there are many excellent freeware alternatives. (In addition, Windows 7 / Vista 64 continue the tradition of offering 32 bit compatibility mode.)

Here are the top freeware picks for Windows 7 / Vista 64 in their various sections.  Where a native 64 bit application is currently unavailable in an important category, a suitable 32 bit alternative is provided.

Discussion


BROWSER

Although Windows 7 / Vista 64 include both the 32 and 64 bit versions of Internet Explorer, version 8 in the case of Windows 7, many prefer more secure products. The 32 bit versions of Firefox, Google Chrome,and Opera all work without a hitch under both operating systems.

Apart from 64 bit Internet Explorer, the only other 64 bit browser currently available, and still under development,  is an unofficial version of Firefox based on the Mozilla code. Various preview versions can be found here.  I've found version 3.6.3 to be as stable as the 32 bit version. This version will import all of your bookmarks and history from 32 bit Firefox.  All currently installed addons are checked for compatibility when 64 bit Firefox is started, and those that are known to work are loaded automatically.

Although active development has been under way for some time these applications are not yet ready for daily use:

  1. To support Java, a 64 bit browser requires a 64 bit version of the Java Runtime Environment. There is a suitable version of JRE for Windows 7 / Vista 64, but no major Web site actually supports this combination of software.
     
  2. Adobe has still not given any indication of when a 64 bit Windows version of their Flash Player will be made available, and the 32 bit version cannot be used in conjunction with a 64 bit browser under Windows 7 / Vista 64.
     
  3. Some sites may simply refuse to allow access to a 64 bit browser.
     
  4. Common addons for Firefox that interact with external 32 bit applications such as Roboform are not compatible with the 64 bit version of the browser.

If you find these restrictions unacceptable, stick with a 32 bit browser. See:

Best Free Web Browser

 

EMAIL CLIENT

Currently, the only released 64 bit email client is Windows Mail, included with Vista 64. Windows 7 does not include an email client.

There is a development project for 64 bit Thunderbird 3, the latest build, 3.05, codenamed Shredder, is available here. Unfortunately, moving from your existing email client to 64 bit Thunderbird 3 can be quite a challenge. Users moving from Thunderbird 2 under Windows 7 / Vista 64 will need to use two third party freeware products, MozBackup and MailStore Home. Migration from Outlook is relatively simple under Vista 64 using the Thunderbird 3 import function. This approach doesn't work under Windows 7 due to changes in the registration of MAPI entries which no one appears to want to acknowledge or address.

Thunderbird 2 users who are considering the switch should be aware that the popular Lightning addon is not supported.

For the time being I would recommend that you stick with a 32 bit email client. For details refer to our review:

Best Free Email Client

  

FTP CLIENT

Following a comment from a reader I have been searching for free 64 bit FTP clients. So far, I have only managed to find one, Null FTP from Vision Works.

The free version of Null FTP, a cut down version of the paid product, has the following limitations:

  • Number of concurrent transfers is limited to three.
  • Number of FTP servers defined for quick connection is limited to three.
  • Maximum TCP buffer size is limited to 128kB

Whether or not you can live with the first two limitations depends largely on how much you rely on FTP in your day to day activities. The third restriction has no impact on the speed of Internet or local network FTP transfers so I am surprised that they even bother to mention it.

Null FTP ClientIn use, Null FTP has the typical local and remote files panes which support drag and drop, and status and log windows which provide details of the current connections and file transfers.

Overall, the product fails to match the top 32 bit selections in our review Best Free FTP Client. Unless you feel that a 64 bit FTP client is essential I suggest that you look there for the solution best suited to your needs.

 

FIREWALL

Remember that you should never run two or more firewall products side-by-side.  If you plan to switch to one of the products below, ensure that you disable Windows Firewall and any other firewall you have installed first.

If all you need is a simple interface to the built-in Windows firewall, and aren't too fussy about appearance or features, the free version of Windows 7 Firewall Control is perhaps the answer. Despite the name both Windows 7 and Vista 64 are supported. Be warned that access has to be defined for each application using one of four modes; out only, in only, enable all, or disable all. I suspect for many this will not offer a fine enough degree of control.

Comodo Internet SecurityIf you are looking for a free firewall with extra peace of mind in the form of a Host-Based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS - see our article HIPS Explained for further information), and from version 4 sandboxing, Comodo Internet Security (CIS), is an excellent choice. CIS can be rather intrusive at first, but things do settle down as the program learns more about the system. It's necessary to change mode when installing new software and when dealing with reports, but this is a small price to pay since CIS includes one of the most effective firewalls on the market, free.  Full instructions are available in the "Miscellaneous" tab, or from the Comodo website.

When installing CIS, deselect the Install Antivirus option if you already have a suitable antivirus solution installed.  If you are using an old version of the CFP or CIS you should upgrade to the latest version as this will increase stability and reduce memory footprint. Windows 7 users should ensure they install version 3.9.x or later.

 

ANTIVIRUS

Avira AntiVir Personal EditionWith its ease of use, fast scanning, and excellent detection rates, my first choice is Avira Antivir Personal Edition.   Although it lacks an email scanning feature, it compensates by the speed in which the real-time protection leaps to your defence when any threats, including infected email attachments, are detected. As of version 9, Avira protects against Viruses, Worms, Trojans, Rootkits, Dialers, Spyware and Adware. I have no information, as yet, regarding the effectiveness of the anti-spyware and anti-adware components.

From version 9, Avira also adds the facility to review suspect items at the end of a scan, rather than dealing with each item when detected. This leaves the user free to run a scan unattended at any time and simply deal with the results when appropriate.

I do have criticisms. The large advert for the paid version which accompanies the updates, but it only takes a click to make it go away.  In recent months many people have encountered problems with updates although this issue seems to have been resolved. You also need to periodically reregister.

Avast! Free AntivirusIf you need an antivirus with extra features, Avast! Free AntiVirus may be the answer. Avast has full real-time capabilities, including web, e-mail, IM, P2P and network shields, boot-time scanning, and a behavioural blocker. Avast is light on resources. Detection rates are good but not quite up to the standard of Avira.

Many of the protection mechanisms used by Avast rely on interactive Windows services. Support in Windows 7 / Vista 64 for interactive services is intended for use by legacy applications. This places restrictions on the information that can be sent to the user.

Both Avira and Avast are hybrid 64 bit applications. Only the low level kernel mode drivers that interface with operating system are written in 64 bit code.

You can have more than one AV product installed, but only one should be enabled for real-time scanning. The same applies to email scanning.

If you are interested in alternatives to Avira and Avast, such as AVG Free,a-squared Free, or Microsoft Security Essentials, then refer to our review:

Best Free Antivirus Software

 

ANTISPYWARE

SUPERAntiSpyware (SAS)There are some very good  on-demand  scanners  which don't  conflict with real-time protection.  Perhaps the best of these is SUPERAntiSpyware (SAS). Available as a 64 bit application, it can detect malware that other products miss, remove rogue applications, and also repair some malware damage.

 

 

 

 

Malwarebytes Anti-MalwareMalwarebytes, a 32 bit only application, is also worth considering due to its fast scanning and general ease of use. Effective at detecting and removing trojans, results are less impressive for other types of malware.

 

 

 

 

Ad-Aware 2008 includes heuristic detection and integrated real-time protection, although the latter is only for rogue processes in the free version.

Real-time protection is implemented by a combination of an interactive Windows service and a 64 bit kernel mode device driver making Ad-Aware a hybrid 32/64 bit application. Support in Windows 7 / Vista 64 for interactive services is intended for use by legacy applications. This places restrictions on the information that can be sent to the user.

As to real world effectiveness, Ad-Aware continues to maintain a reasonable detection rate but many threats go undetected.

For full details of the testing carried out on these and other products in this category refer to our review:

Best Free Adware/Spyware/Scumware Remover

 

SYSTEM TOOLS

Although Windows 7 / Vista 64 have their own housekeeping tools for defragmenting the hard disk, removing junk files and various other tasks, there are 3rd party alternatives which perform better and offer additional features.  There are few 64 bit tools but the ones available, added to the 32 bit versions that work under Windows 7 / Vista 64, are very good at what they do.

Before you dig too deeply into this section you might want to read the great article:

"How to make Vista run faster"

The information contained in the article applies equally well to Windows 7.

 

ALL IN ONE

Glary UtilitiesIf you prefer to use  a single tool for the upkeep of your PC, you need look no further than the latest version of the excellent Glary Utilities.  Some sixteen different utilities are included, covering virtually every aspect of PC maintenance. Although none of the individual utilities can compare to standalone competition, you do have the advantage of having everything in one place.

As this is a 32 bit program, you will notice that one or two of the modules are not fully working, the Uninstall Manager, for example, doesn't recognise 64 bit applications, and therefore cannot uninstall them.

 

DISK DEFRAGMENTER

MyDefrag, by the author of JKDefrag, available in 32 and 64 bit versions, is novel in that it is a merely a defragmentation and file placement engine. The actions carried out by my MyDefrag are script driven, with a number of useful example scripts being included in the installation. The simple scripting language is well documented allowing scripts to be developed to suit any defragmentation/optimisation requirement. The scripting language includes a command that allows the files identified in the Windows Prefetch cache to be optimised.

A script can be executed by double clicking on it in Explorer, passing it as a parameter to MyDefrag invoked via a shortcut or the appropriate task scheduler. MyDefrag requires administrator privilege and, if running from the Task Scheduler under Windows 7 or Vista, it is recommended that the SYSTEM account is used.

If the MyDefrag GUI interface is set to be visible during script execution, the default, the rather poor disk map, familiar to JK Defrag users, is displayed. You can switch from this to a text based statistics/progress view, but presentation is equally unimpressive.

All physical directory/file operations carried out by MyDefrag use the Windows Defragmentation API and can therefore be considered safe. The process can be interrupted at any time without risk of data loss or corruption.

For those with unusual defragmentation and/or optimisation requirements MyDefrag offers unparalleled flexibility. Readers who merely want to defragment their disk(s) on a regularly basis should use one of the standard scripts provided with MyDefrag, I use Optimize Daily, to achieve excellent results. MyDefrag definitely deserves to replace JKDefrag as Gizmo's Top Pick.

DefragglerDefraggler, finally provides native 64 bit competition for MyDefrag.  From the authors of CCleaner and Recuva, Defraggler is a great application for day to day defragmentation tasks. However, MyDefrag still produces the best results, albeit with a considerable runtime penalty.

In typical Piriform style, the Defraggler interface is clean, easy to follow, and therefore simple to use. Analysing a drive only takes a few seconds, performing a quick defragmentation typically takes less than ten minutes. Impressive. Unfortunately, Defraggler falls down by not optimising file placement or taking into account the results of 'ReadyBoot' (sic), and it doesn't have the flexibility of MyDefrag's scripting language.

Conclusion: Use Defraggler day to day, and once a week run MyDefrag using Optimize Weekly. Together they do the job nicely.

Readers who would prefer to consider 32 bit products should refer to our review:

Best Free Disk De-fragmenter

Keep in mind that 32 bit disk defragmentation tools will incur a performance hit by having to use the WOW64 (32 bit compatibility mode) interface.

If you decide to use a third party disk defragmenter, other than MyDefrag, don't be tempted to disable the built in Windows 7 / Vista 64 disk defragmenter. If you do, you will greatly reduce the effectiveness of ReadyBoot (sic), the mechanism that monitors files accessed during the last 5 boots and creates a boot plan to reduce startup time. This boot plan is passed to the Windows disk defragmenter to allow the placement of files used during the boot process to be optimized.

 

DISK CLEANER

ccleanerCCleaner, recently rewritten in C++ , scans for both junk files and registry errors. The registry cleaning component only handles that part of the registry visible to 32 bit applications and is quite mild. Additional features include cookie management, program removal, and secure file erasing. Existing users who upgrade will notice a significant reduction in scanning times.  

This is one of the first tools I recommend people install on a Windows PC, and regular use will go a long way to preventing the hard drive from becoming bogged down with unwanted junk.

CCleaner has never dealt with purging Windows Restore Points, a major source of accumulated junk. The Disk Cleanup tool available in 32 bit Windows 7 / Vista allows you to do this but, under Windows 7 / Vista 64, although the option to perform this task still exists, it does not work correctly.  My thanks go to Kristan Kenny for providing the solution to this problem.

If you want to correct the Disk Cleanup shortcut in the Start menu, follow these steps:
 

  1. Click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, and then click on System Tools.
  2. Right click on "Disk Cleanup" and from the context menu click on "Properties."
  3. Change the Target to %SystemRoot%\system32\cleanmgr.exe.
  4. Click on OK.  If a UAC prompt appears, click on Continue or provide the appropriate credentials.

If you've automated Disk Cleanup, the correct path to use in your script is:

%WINDIR%\sysnative\cleanmgr.exe

If you launch Disk Cleanup from another location in Windows, for instance by clicking the “Disk Cleanup” button in the properties window of a drive, the correct 64 bit version of Disk Cleanup is launched.

  

REGISTRY CLEANER

I am not a fan of Registry cleaners.  They have a nasty habit of removing things that are vital to the correct operation of commercial software. 

Wise Registry CleanerThat aside, even finding a specific Registry Cleaner free of charge for Windows 7 / Vista 64 is no easy task .  People on many forums recommend Wise Registry Cleaner. It only handles that part of the registry visible to 32 bit applications, but is the most satisfactory product I have come across.

Firstly, it allows you to backup the Registry before you start and there is also a restore option.  Secondly, by default, it doesn't check Class Security Identifiers (CLSIDs) or other areas where most Registry tricks are played, although these can be included if required. Finally it divides redundant/invalid entries into two groups, 1) those you can remove safely, and 2) the rest which require closer examination before removing. I think it is fair to say that you are reasonably safe removing the entries in the first group although I would caution against removing those in the second group unless you have a good understanding of the Registry and how applications use it.

 

REGISTRY DEFRAGMENTER

While a PC is in use there is a constant stream of data being added to and removed from the registry and over time this can cause the registry to become fragmented, there is also the problem of registry cleaners and program uninstalls producing gaps in the registry file.   When this occurs, it does nothing to enhance the performance or reliability of the system, therefore, the occasional use of a registry defragmenter / optimiser is seen by some as a necessary part of the maintenance regime.

Free Registry DefragFree Registry Defrag is a fast,  reliable and free tool which is capable of compacting and defragmenting the registry and from version 2.4 onwards includes both 32 and 64 bit versions.  Be aware that the software does not include a Registry backup option so exercise caution and create a Restore Point before using.

 

 

 

 

REGISTRY EDITOR

'User friendly' and 'registry editor' are not terms that I would think of putting together however it is possible to improve on the rather limited tools included with Windows 7 / Vista 64. Remember that using a registry editor is generally a last resort. You need to know what you are doing which includes creating a Restore Point before you start.

Registrar Registry Manager LiteThe native 64 bit Registrar Registry Manager Lite, a cut down version of the shareware tool, is considerably more user friendly than the Windows built-in registry editor and includes a host of advanced features such as registry backup, multi-level undo, a lightning fast search, plus lots of information about what particular registry entries actually mean. Some of the features of the shareware version of Registrar Registry Manager 6.50, such as adding bookmarks and search and delete, are disabled, but the lite version still leaves regedit for dead.

 

If you ever need to use a registry editor this is definitely the tool to use.

 

SYSINTERNALS SUITE

No list of system tools would be complete without mentioning the excellent SysInternals Suite which is used to trouble shoot PCs worldwide. Although SysInternals is now part of Microsoft, the tools remain free and are regularly updated.

Most of the SysInternals tools work correctly under Windows 7 / Vista 64. In particular, the three most widely used tools, Process Explorer, Process Monitor and Autoruns, extract and run 64 bit code. At present, Autologon doesn't work, but a suitable alternative can be found here.

If you are looking for a utility that will create shortcuts to the most commonly used SysInternals tools, check out SysInternals Toolbox in our review :

Best Free Vista Tweaks.

 

SYSTEM INFORMATION UTILITY

SIW The 32 bit SIW utility still manages to display a host of detailed information relating to your PC hardware, operating system, installed programs, processes, services, serial numbers (CD keys), users, open files, system uptime, network, network shares, as well as real-time monitors for CPU, memory, page file usage and network traffic when running under Windows 7 / Vista 64. It also displays currently active network connections, passwords hidden behind asterisks, installed codecs, and more. 

SIW doesn't require installation so it can be run from a USB flash drive without problem.

For a full guide to System Information Utilities:

Best Free System Information Utility.

 

SYSTEM TOOLS/UTILITIES INCLUDED IN WINDOWS 7

Windows 7 Resource MonitorThe Windows 7 Resource Monitor provides access to a host of information about what is using your precious system resources. Resource usage information is available for the CPU(s), memory, disk and network. The level of detail that can be viewed means Resource Monitor is more closely related to the Process Explorer/Process Monitor tools from SysInternals than it is Task Manager. Unlike Process Explorer/Process Monitor, you don't have to be overwhelmed by detail, since you can view information in a way that suits you.

To try out Resource Monitor, click on Start, type resource monitor into the search box, and then click on the Resource Monitor entry that appears under Programs.

For an in depth look at Resource Monitor refer to our article:

Windows 7 Resource Monitor: New & Improved

My favourite new feature in Windows 7 is the Problem Steps Recorder.

If you've ever tried to help a friend or family member over the phone, or via email, with a PC problem I'm sure you know how difficult and frustrating it can be. With the best will in the world things tend to get lost in translation. They miss out a piece of information relating to the problem, or you do regarding the solution. PSR overcomes this problem by allowing the steps needed to reproduce a problem, or to implement a fix, to be recorded and saved to a file.

To start PSR, click on Start, type psr.exe into the search box, and then either click on the psr.exe entry that appears under Programs, or right click and choose Run as a administrator. Note you need to choose Run as administrator if any of the screens you wish to capture are running with administrator privilege.

Windows 7 Problem Steps RecorderOnce loaded you simply click on the red circular Start Record button to start capturing user activity. Comments can be added during the capture and to finish the session you simply click on the Stop Record button. Once recording has stopped you will be prompted to enter a filename and the whole session will be saved to a ZIP file. The maximum number of screen shots that can be recorded by default is 25. To change this, click on the downward arrow at the right hand end of the PSR dialog box and choose Settings.

The ZIP contains a MHT, mime encoded HTML, format document that includes the screen shots, any comments that were added, and a text based description of the actions that were carried out. This can be opened and edited in any version of Word from 2002 upwards. Alternatively, the file can be viewed using the free Word Viewer, Internet Explorer version 5 or higher,  Firefox with the UnMHT extension installed and Opera version 9.0 or higher.

PSR is not a ground breaking application, but it will help me to assist others much more quickly and efficiently.

  

TWEAKING TOOLS

The majority of tools in this category are covered in: Best Free Vista Tweaks which includes details of compatibility with Vista 64. With the exception of Vista Logon Studio all the applications that work under Vista 64 will also work under Windows 7. An alternative to Vista Logon Studio for Windows 7 users is given below.

Iconoid Main Dialog BoxIconoid, a 64 bit port of SillySot's application, allows you to change the colour of text associated with your desktop icons. You can also save and restore the position of desktop icons and, optionally, hide and restore icons by clicking on the desktop.

In order to use Iconoid to change the colour of text you must first turn off drop shadows for icon text.  This must be done via Control Panel, System, Advanced System Settings, and then click on the Settings button under Performance.  Right clicking on Computer, and then choosing Properties, will only change settings until you logoff or the PC is rebooted.

 

Windows 7 Logon Screen ChangerTweak.com's Logon Changer,  available only as a 32 bit application, allows you select any JPG image for the Windows 7 logon screen. To change the image used, simply click on Change Logon Screen. The application will prompt for the location and name of the new background image and then install it.

Windows 7 imposes a 256 Kb limit on the size of the JPEG image that can be used for the logon screen. If your image is larger than this, Logon Changer will give you the option to automatically resize and/or compress the image. Note that the original image is left untouched. 

 

DATA/FILE/FOLDER TOOLS

DATA RECOVERY / UNDELETE

RecuvaNo matter how careful we try to be, there's a chance that an important file, picture, track etc will get deleted by accident. Hours of work and valuable photos can all be lost with a click of the mouse, or by selecting the wrong option on a digital camera. A data recovery tool such as Recuva, from the makers of CCleaner, now available as a native 64 bit application, can help you resolve such unfortunate errors.

 

 

Recuva is simple to use, effective, and can be used to recover lost items from the following:

  • FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, NTFS5 , NTFS + EFS file systems
  • Removable media (SmartMedia, Secure Digital, MemoryStick, Digital cameras, Floppy disks, Jaz Disks, Sony Memory Sticks, Compact Flash cards, Smart Media Cards, Secure Digital Cards, etc.)
  • External ZIP drives , Firewire and USB Hard drives
  • iPods and other MP3 players
  • Emails deleted from Thunderbird

     

FILE ARCHIVER/ZIP UTILITY

7-Zip and PeaZip are available as native 64 bit applications and contain all of the functionality of their 32 bit counterparts. Readers interested in a comparison of these products should refer to our review:

Best Free File Archiver/Zip Utility

 

FILE MANAGER

If you spend more than a few minutes a day carrying out file management tasks the chances are that you will soon find Explorer really isn't up to the job. Until recently, overcoming this meant putting up with the limitations of a 32 bit freeware file manager, i.e. no context menu entries for 64 bit applications, or paying out for a commercial 64 bit file manager. Things are starting to improve, at least now there are two freeware 64 bit file managers to choose from.

Double Commander, a long standing beta project based on the shareware Total Commander, is a dual pane file manager that provides a host of features out of the box:

  • Dual panes support multiple tabs
  • Displayed columns can be customised
  • Internal text editor (F4)  with syntax hightlighting
  • Built in file viewer (F3) to view files of in hex, binary or text format
  • Archives are handled like subdirectories. You can easily copy files to and from archives. Supported archive types: ZIP, TAR GZ, TGZ, LZMA and also BZ2, RPM, CPIO, DEB, RAR
  • Extended  search function with full text search in any files
  • Configurable button bar to start external programs or internal menu commands

Double CommanderIn addition to these built-in features, Double Commander also supports Total Commander plug-ins that provide a bewildering array of additional functionality.

Double Commander is a very capable file manager, don't let the 'beta' label put you off, I suspect it's just one of those projects that they don't seem to be quite able to put down and finish.

 

Q-DirQ-Dir supports up to four panes, each of which can have multiple tabs. Full drag and drop is implemented immediately making it more productive than Explorer. It supports a wide variety of functions and customisations although you really need to refer to the on-line FAQs to get the most out of it. It isn't resource intensive, 16Mb on my machine, and it just does exactly what it says it will do.
 


Some might find the interface a little clunky, the lack of breadcrumbs grates, but give it a try, you might find it grows on you.

 

FOLDER SYNCHRONIZATION UTILITY

SyncToyMicrosoft's SyncToy, available as a native 64 bit application, can copy, move, rename, and delete files between any number of folders and even computers. Operations are carried out on local and/or remote pre-defined folder pairs. Remote folders can be specified by drive letter or UNC name. You define and name these pairs, files can be included or excluded based on wildcards and/or file attributes, and then when you want to perform a task, you recall one of these pairs and carry out the operation. Syncing can be in either direction and covers all options from complete sync to updating newer files only. SyncToy can also keep track of files you rename and rename those in the sync destination.  Overwritten files in the destination can be saved in the recycle bin, in case you need the older version. SyncToy also allows you to preview a sync, that is, view what would happen if the sync operation was executed. This ensures the operation will do exactly what you want before you use it.

In addition to the easy to use GUI, SyncToy can also be run from the command line to sync a chosen folder pair or, all folder pairs.

SyncToy is a versatile utility that will satisfy all but the most demanding of users. It also runs very quickly despite being based on the .NET framework. The only major things it lacks are the ability to select files from a folder via a standard tree view, direct support for ftp, and a portable version.

If you would prefer a non-Microsoft solution, or require features that SyncToy doesn't have, then refer to our review Best Free Folder Synchronization Utility.

 

SECURE ERASE UTILITY

EraserThe 64 bit version of Eraser will securely overwrite selected files and folders, or even whole disks (it works with any drive, including IDE, SCSI, RAID, and CD-RWs). It addition to handling normal data areas, Eraser can also wipe data in the paging file, Internet cache, temporary files, Internet cookies, unused disk space, and a number of other places where data can secretly lurk.  It can handle FAT, FAT32, and NTFS partitions.  Erasing files with a high level of security, involving user selected data patterns and multiple passes, will always be a time consuming task, and 100% security cannot be guaranteed. However, Eraser makes the task about as easy as it can be, at a security level that exceeds  most conceivable requirements.

If Eraser goes beyond what you need, then refer to our review Best Free Secure Erase Utility for details of simpler, 32 bit alternatives, that work quite happily under Windows 7 / Vista 64.

 

DESKTOP/OFFICE TOOLS

CD/DVD BURNER

Both CDBurnerXP and InfraRecorder are available as native 64 bit applications. I have successfully tested both under Windows 7 / Vista 64 and they satisfy my somewhat limited CD/DVD burning requirements. For an expert comparison of these products refer to our review Best Free CD / DVD Burning Software.

 

DIGITAL IMAGE EDITOR

This is not a field in which I can claim to have any expertise. I have tested the products identified to confirm that they work under Windows 7 / Vista 64. Readers who are interested in comparing product features should refer to our review:

Best Free Digital Image Editor

Paint.NETPaint.Net is available as a native 64 bit application. In addition to the products built in features there are a huge number of user contributed plugins that add further capabilities. Despite requiring version 3.5 or higher of the .NET Framework, 3.5 SP1 is recommended, Paint.NET isn't too resource intensive and during testing I didn't notice slow downs at any point.

 

An experimental 64 bit version of The GIMP is available although the installation routine stresses the fact that this version isn't suitable for day to day work.

 

DIGITAL IMAGE VIEWER

The top picks in our review Best Free Digital Image Viewer, XnView and IrfanView, both 32 bit applications that include 64 bit shell extensions, run flawlessly under Windows 7 / Vista 64. I suggest that you refer to the review for an expert comparison of these products.

 

OFFICE SUITE

Open Office covers just about all the bases, everything from a document writer to databases and spreadsheets,  it handles files produced with Excel. Word and Powerpoint,  and also there are numerous extensions available.  All in all this is one of the best examples of freeware to be found!

For those of you who need to be able to handle Office 2007 documents I suggest that you check out How do I open Microsoft Office 2007 files?

 

PDF READER

PDF XCHANGEThanks go to one of our readers for bringing PDFXCHANGE Viewer to my attention. PDFXCHANGE Viewer is available as a combined 32/64 bit download containing the full product and 32 bit shell extensions, or as a 32 bit only portable version. The free version of PDFXCHANGE, which simply has the features of the Pro version disabled, has enough capabilities to satisfy all but the most demanding of users. The toolbars can be customised to suit user taste, even the performance of the application, maximum memory usage, number of threads and so on can be tuned.

In use, the 64 bit version is quick and memory usage is on a par with Adobe Reader. Image quality, although not quite as good as Adobe's product, is still excellent. In fact, for documents that originally contained rasterised images, reproduction is actually far better.

The portable 32 bit version is worthy of mention. It naturally lacks some features available in the full product but still produces high quality images making it ideal for a personal PC toolkit.

If you want a feature rich 64 bit PDF viewer and are not prepared to wait for Adobe to play catch up, then I recommend you take a look at this product.

 

PDF WRITER

BullZip, CuteWriter and doPDF all have 64 bit versions although BullZip and CuteWriter rely on the 32 bit version of GhostScript Lite.

I have successfully tested all of these applications under Windows 7 / Vista 64 and suggest that interested readers refer to our review :

Best Free PDF Writer

to assist them in choosing the best product for their needs.

Have Your Say

To make this category a success feedback from readers is essential. I cannot possibly cover everything, but if you have an idea for an area of software that should be covered, or if I have left out one of your favourites, then post a comment.

There are five ways to send feedback: registered users can contact me directly here or in the forum under Contact Info. Registered users may also post in the forum. Anyone can post a comment at the bottom of this page. Finally, please help us by rating this review

Related Articles, Reviews and Useful Links

Articles

Reviews

Useful Links

Quick Selection Guide

Null FTP    Rating 5 of 10

Pros   Available as a native 64 bit application.
Cons   Offers no benefit over better known, and established, 32 bit FTP clients.
Developer Home Page   http://www.vwsolutions.com/NullFTP
Download link   http://www.vwsolutions.com/NullFTPClient/freeDownload.aspx
File Size   5.80Mb   Version 1.3.0.0   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

Windows 7 Firewall Control    Rating 4 of 10

Pros   Provides simple protection for inbound and outbound connections.
Cons   Level of control over application access is not detailed enough. No HIPS support. User interface is not all that it could be.
Developer Home Page   http://sphinx-soft.com
Download link   http://sphinx-soft.com/Vista/order.html
File Size   1.41 Mb   Version 3.5   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

Comodo Internet Security (CIS)    Rating 9 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Firewall, HIPS protection and sandboxing that match any other product free or otherwise.
Cons   CIS can be somewhat intrusive when first installed. Existing users should upgrade to the latest version to increase stability and reduce memory footprint.
Developer Home Page   http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com
Download link   http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com/download_firewall.html
File Size   61 Mb   Version 4.0.141842.848  License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

Avira Antivir Personal Edition     Rating 9 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Ease of use, fast scanning and excellent detection rates. May surprise you by detecting problems that other AV programs do not. Anti-spyware and anti-adware components now included.
Cons   Hybrid 32/64 bit application. No email or web scanner. Large advert when updating antivirus definitions, need to re-register periodically. Remains to be seen if recent update problems have been finally resolved.
Developer Home Page   http://www.free-av.com
Download link   http://www.free-av.com/en/trialpay_download/1/avira_antivir_personal__free_antivirus.html
File Size   40.32 Mb   Version 10.0.0.561   License Type Private Freeware (not free for commercial use)   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   Hybrid 32/64 Bit version available

Avast Free AntiVirus    Rating 9 of 10

Pros   Full real-time capabilities, low rate of false positives, fairly light on resources, boot-time scanning.
Cons   Detection rates lower than AntiVir. Hybrid 32/64 bit application.
Developer Home Page   http://www.avast.com/eng/avast-free-home-antivirus-antispyware.html
Download link   http://www.avast.com/eng/download-avast-home.html
File Size   38.29 Mb   Version 5.0.507   License Type Private Freeware (not free for commercial use)   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   Hybrid 32/64 Bit version available

SUPERAntiSpyware (SAS)    Rating 9 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Detects malware that other products miss and is able to remove rogue applications. Also has the ability to repair some of the damage that can be caused by Malware.
Cons   Free version only offers on demand scanning.
Developer Home Page   http://www.superantispyware.com/index.html
Download link   http://www.superantispyware.com/downloadfile.html?productid=SUPERANTISPYWAREFREE
File Size   8.5 Mb   Version 4.90.1008  License Type Restricted freeware (full commercial version available)   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

Malwarebytes    Rating 8 of 10

Pros   Worth considering because of its fast scanning and general ease of use. Effective trojan detection and removal.
Cons   Less effective on other malware.
Developer Home Page   http://www.malwarebytes.org/index.php
Download link   http://download.cnet.com/Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware/3000-8022_4-10804572.html?part=dl-10804572&subj=dl&tag=button
File Size   5.64 Mb   Version 1.4.5   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64

Ad-Aware 2008    Rating 6 of 10

Pros   Continues to maintain a reasonable detection rate. Now a hybrid 32/64 bit application under Vista 64.
Cons   Many threats go undetected. Uses a programming technique designed for pre-Vista applications that may be unsupported in future versions of Windows.
Developer Home Page   http://lavasoft.com/products/ad_aware_free.php
Download link   http://www.download.com/Ad-Aware-Anniversary-Edition/3000-8022_4-10045910.html?part=dl-ad-aware&subj=dl&tag=top5&cdlPid=10998841
File Size   73.52 Mb   Version 8.1.0.0   License Type Private Freeware (full commercial version available)    Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   Hybrid 32/64 Bit version available
Info  

Also requires either Internet Explorer (version 5.5 or higher), Firefox (version 1.5 or higher) or Opera (version 9 or higher) Pro version available for free by completing a trial offer.

Glary Utilities    Rating 7 of 10

Pros   Single tool for PC maintenance that is extremely easy to use.
Cons   Not a 64 bit application so some areas of the product, such as the Uninstall Manager, do not fully work. Individual utilities not as good as standalone alternatives.
Developer Home Page   http://www.glaryutilities.com
Download link   http://www.glaryutilities.com
File Size   7.71 Mb   Version 2.21.0.863   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64

MyDefrag    Rating 9 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Excellent results even using the standard scripts provided. Scripting language offers almost limitless flexibility. Scripts included process the results of ReadyBoot (sic) to optimize boot performance.
Cons   Although the GUI interface has improved, it still needs fundamental work. Scripts take a long time to run, but in terms of results, nothing else comes close.
Developer Home Page   http://www.mydefrag.com
Download link   http://www.mydefrag.com/Manual-DownloadAndInstall.html
File Size   2 Mb   Version 4.2.9   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements 2000, 2003, XP, Vista 32/64, 2008, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

Defraggler    Rating 8 of 10

Pros   Clear, easy to use interface. Fast Defrag speed is impressive.
Cons   Lacks the file placement, consolidation, and scripting abilities of MyDefrag so is less flexible. Doesn't take into account the output from ReadyBoot (sic), therefore no boot time optimization is carried out.
Developer Home Page   http://www.piriform.com/defraggler
Download link   http://www.piriform.com/defraggler/download
File Size   3.87 Mb   Version 1.20.201   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements 2000, 2003, XP, Vista 32/64, 2008, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

CCleaner    Rating 6 of 10

Pros   Excellent at cleaning up junk you probably didn't even realize was there!
Cons   No 64 bit version. Registry cleaner only handles entries visible to 32 bit applications and is not up to the same standard as many standalone products.
Developer Home Page   http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner
Download link   http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/download
File Size   3.21 Mb   Version 2.30.1130 License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64

Wise Registry Cleaner   Rating 6 of 10

Pros   Registry backup and restore functions. Does not scan areas of the Registry where it is difficult to determine if data is still required (option can be changed.) Divides results in two sections 'safe to delete' and 'check before deleting.'
Cons   No 64 bit version. Only handles that part of the registry visible to 32 bit applications. Entries left for review by the user prior to deletion may prove confusing.    
Developer Home Page   http://www.wisecleaner.com/index.html
Download link   http://www.wisecleaner.com/download.html
File Size   3 Mb   Version 4.62   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
Info   If you must use a Registry Cleaner, use this one.

Free Registry Defrag    Rating 6 of 10

Pros   Fast, reliable and free native 64 bit tool which is capable of compacting and defragmenting the registry.
Cons   Does not include a Registry backup option so exercise caution and create a Restore Point before using.
Developer Home Page   http://www.registry-clean.net/free-registry-defrag.htm
Download link   http://www.registry-clean.net/free-registry-defrag.htm
File Size   508 Kb   Version 3.0   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

Registrar Registry Manager Lite    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Full featured registry editor that leaves regedit for dead.
Cons   Lacks some advanced features from the shareware version.
Developer Home Page   http://www.resplendence.com/registrar.htm
Download link   http://www.resplendence.com/downloads
File Size   2.64 Mb   Version 6.50   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

SysInternals Suite    Rating 9 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   The must have toolkit for anyone who is serious about their PC(s.) The most important tools run as native 64 bit applications.
Cons   Autologon no longer works.
Developer Home Page   http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/default.aspx
Download link   http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/default.aspx
File Size   11.82 Mb   Version June 2010   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64

SIW System Information Tool    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Displays just about every piece of PC related information you could possibly wish for. Can be run from a USB stick.
Cons   No 64 bit version, although this doesn't seem to impact on usability. Correct hardware detection dependent on the drivers that you have installed.
Developer Home Page   http://www.gtopala.com
Download link   http://www.gtopala.com
File Size   2.26 Mb   Version 2010 build 0310   License Type Private Freeware (not free for commercial use)   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64

Iconoid    Rating 6 of 10

Pros   Allows the colour of desktop icon text to be easily modified.
Cons   Requires a manual change to Windows Visual Effects to work.
Developer Home Page   http://www.highrez.co.uk/downloads/
Download link   http://www.highrez.co.uk/scripts/download.asp?package=Iconoid
File Size   298 Kb   Version 3.8.4   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements Vista 64, Windows 7 64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

Tweaks.com Logon Changer    Rating 7 of 10

Pros   Provides a simple way to change your Windows 7 logon screen to use any JPEG image. Images that exceed the limit of 256 Kb, imposed by Windows 7, can be automatically resized and/or resampled.
Cons   Cannot automatically convert images from other formats to JPEG.
Developer Home Page   http://tweaks.com/software/tweakslogon
Download link   http://tweaks.com/software/tweakslogon
File Size   242 Kb  Version 1.1   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements Windows 7 32/64

Recuva    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Recuva is simple to use, effective, and can recover deleted items from a comprehensive range of media. Latest version allows deleted Thunderbird emails to be restored. Can be run from a USB stick.
Cons   None worth mentioning.
Developer Home Page   http://www.piriform.com/recuva
Download link   http://www.piriform.com/recuva/download
File Size   1.48 Mb   Version 1.38   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

Double Commander    Rating 8 of 10

Pros   Provides virtually every feature you can think of out the box and also supports Total Commander plug-ins.
Cons   Double Commander is still a beta although I wouldn't let that put you off.
Developer Home Page   http://doublecmd.sourceforge.net
Download link   http://sourceforge.net/projects/doublecmd/files
File Size   6.6 Mb   Version 0.4.5.1 Beta   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32 / 64, Windows 7 32 / 64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available
Info   Total Commander plug-ins are available here.

Q-Dir    Rating 7 of 10

Pros   Provides the critical features Explorer lacks supporting up to four panes, each can have multiple tabs. Very fast and light on resources.
Cons   The interface is a little clunky and takes some getting used to.
Developer Home Page   http://www.softwareok.com
Download link   http://www.softwareok.com/?Download
File Size   717 Kb   Version 4.18   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32 / 64, Windows 7 32 / 64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available
Info   The FAQs, here, are a useful source of customisation tips.

SyncToy    Rating 7 of 10

Pros   Can copy, move, rename, and delete files between any number of folders and even computers. Remote folders can be specified by drive letter or UNC name. Files can be included/excluded by wildcard and/or file attributes. Sync operations can be previewed to ensure they are correctly defined. Sync operations can be run from the GUI or the command line.
Cons   Cannot select files from a folder via a standard tree view. No direct support for ftp. No portable version.
Developer Home Page   http://www.microsoft.com/prophoto/downloads/synctoybeta.aspx
Download link  

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?familyid=C26EFA36-98E...

File Size   3.5 Mb   Version 2.1   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available
Info   Requires .NET framework version 2.0 or higher.

Eraser    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Works with CDFS, FAT, FAT32 and NTFS partitions on IDE, SCSI, RAID and CD-RW. System and application data areas such as the paging file, browser caches, cookies, etc, can be overwritten without detailed knowledge of disk/file layout.
Cons   Time consuming.
Developer Home Page   http://www.heidi.ie/node/6
Download link   http://www.heidi.ie/node/14
File Size   8.74 Mb   Version 6.0.7.1893   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, 2003 Server, XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

Paint.NET  

Developer Home Page   http://www.paint.net
Download link   http://www.paint.net
File Size   3.5 Mb   Version 3.5.5   License Type Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License    Installation Requirements XP, 2003, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available
Info   Requires minimum .NET Framework 3.5, Service Pack 1

The GIMP  

Developer Home Page   http://www.gimpusers.com/gimp-download.php
Download link   http://www.gimpusers.com/gimp-download.php
File Size   18.82 Mb   Version 2.6.8   License Type GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE Version 2, June 1991    Installation Requirements XP, 2003, Vista 32/ 64, Windows 7 32/64, Linux
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available

Open Office    Rating 10 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Open Office on its' own is proof that open source software can and does work. Add to the base product the hundreds of extensions that are available and you have, as some well regarded publications have pointed out, a world beater.
Cons   No 64 bit version, but then Office 2007 isn't available in 64 bit either. Dealing with files in Office 2007 format can be quite a challenge.
Developer Home Page   http://www.openoffice.org/index.html
Download link   http://www.openoffice.org/index.html
File Size   150.19 Mb   Version 3.1.1   License Type Unrestricted Freeware   Installation Requirements XP, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64

PDFXCHANGE Viewer    Rating 8 of 10  Gizmo's Top Pick

Pros   Feature rich and can be highly customised. Image quality close to Adobe Reader and sometimes better.
Cons   None worth mentioning.
Developer Home Page   http://www.docu-track.com/product/pdf-xchange-viewer
Download link   http://www.docu-track.com/download/PXCViewer_x64.msi
File Size   20.6 Mb   Version 2.050   License Type Free for personal and commercial use. Not to be used for personal gain   Installation Requirements 2000, XP, 2003, Vista 32/64, Windows 7 32/64
64 Bit version available   64 Bit version available   Portable version available Portable version available
Have Your Say

To make this category a success feedback from readers is essential. I cannot possibly cover everything, but if you have an idea for an area of software that should be covered, or if I have left out one of your favourites, then post a comment.

There are five ways to send feedback: registered users can contact me directly here or in the forum under Contact Info. Registered users may also post in the forum. Anyone can post a comment at the bottom of this page. Finally, please help us by rating this review

This category is maintained by volunteer editor Rik Mayell, a self confessed computer nut, who loves PCs, desktop or server, and thinks the Mac is cool, although doesn't own one. Becoming a Linux addict in his spare time.

Tags

Freeware for 64 bit Windows 7, Freeware for 64 bit Windows Vista, 64 bit Windows freeware, Freeware for 64 bit Windows, 64 bit freeware

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