Thursday, November 13, 2014

I might not write a post until April. Sorry :(

Hello guys and gals! My readers and followers, this blog might not be updated till April because of my entrance exams in April. The pressure is immense, and I guess you can understand that.



Any comments and emails might not be dealt with as early as you expect, but I will check once in a while for any queries that you ask of me.

Please keep sending me your queries and retain the love for HC Tech Byte.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The best data recovery tool


Hello! I am back with an article on the very important tool for any user - data recovery tool. You often delete the original picture after you edit one and regret pushing the button. You sometimes delete an important document and feel like beating yourself up. Oh! Those moments... if someone could bring your file from the jaws of endless void. Here is the comparison of the best tools only. So do not be surprised if you do not find your favourite. ;)

So what were my factors for deciding the best of the best? Here is the prioritised list:

Effectiveness

Ease of use

Cost

Based on my deep research, here are the contenders for the contest:

Recuva, TestDisk and R-Studio

best-data-recovery tool

Recuva


We all know the popular CCleaner that Piriform made. They have this awesome product that is equally easy to use and effective. Free and has a wizard mode. Just too good for the price it bears.

TestDisk


The extremely popular cross-platform and open source disk diagnostic tool has file recovery as one of its options inside. This is used by technicians and power users alike. Tech gurus who know the way through command line interface know the true hidden power of TestDisk. One which I use when Recuva does not work. Works for RAID drives too. Nearly equal to R-Studio minus the graphical interface.

R-Studio


The only paid solution that works when everything else fails. I personally do not know what will work when R-Studio does not. Crazily effective with mind-boggling interface, this one is the stuff of legends (not exaggerating!). It is nearly perfect in every aspect of a data recovery tool. Its Network edition can help you make your way through RAID drives and the gobble-de-geek named drive types. Your only hope when everything else fails.

Conclusion


Use Recuva for daily life problems. When that does not work, follow guides of TestDisk and get your file back. When it is the case of a top-secret file, use R-Studio.

P.S. Any tool cannot work if you do any cut/copy/paste after the file in consideration has been deleted. The pieces of the deleted file get overwritten by the newer file, hence DO NOT DO ANY CUT/COPY/PASTE AFTER DELETING THE FILE ON THE PARTITION ON WHICH IT WAS STORED.

Any comments and likes and disagreements would be appreciated (with reason ;)).

Sunday, November 02, 2014

The best internet browser

*UPDATED - September 5 2015*

Hello! Here I am back with another analysis of one of the the software categories - internet/web browsers. Often users get banned on forums as a result of flaming.

It is usually a tussle between Firefox and Chrome (every time), and even a kid has used an internet browser in his/her life. It all began with the Netscape Navigator browser. For a bit of slice of the history of Netscape and Internet Explorer, see these links:
http://hctechbyte.blogspot.in/2014/06/microsoft-and-internet-explorer-blunders.html
http://hctechbyte.blogspot.in/2014/06/microsoft-and-internet-explorer-blunders.html

After the arrival of Internet Explorer (IE), came the Mozilla Firefox, built on the foundation of Netscape source code. This majestic browser has been the king since then dethroned by Chrome due to its speed (webpage loading times).

There are mainly four engines used to make web browsers:
IE Engine: Internet Explorer, Maxthon and Avant
Gecko: Firefox, Opera, Light
Chromium: Chrome, Torch, Opera Next
Safari: Safari (web browser)

So let's have a look at the competition: we have Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, Opera Next and Light eligible for the real war.

best-internet-browser
 


There have been various instances of reviewers quoting browser benchmark scores. I personally find them useless practically. They are used just to show that "hey, Chrome is 1ms faster than Firefox". Not worth it, right?

My factors for ranking will be:
User experience
Privacy kept in mind by developers
Safety
Customization degree


Internet Explorer 12

The dirt bag, the BS, poop... go on. Call it whatever form of filth you could. And it poops some later. Not true for IE 10 and above versions. It is refined and is one of the speediest and fast contenders here. The Metro version for Windows 8 and above is sleek and cool.
User experience is nice. Privacy.... cannot trust Microsoft, to be frank. Safety.. so many bicycle patches and then some more. On every Patch Tuesday. Problem. Customization.... can you get any extension for it except from 3rd-party places as adware? No. Fail. Fail. Fail.


Mozilla Firefox 40.0.3 Final

Best user experience (arguably). Even Tom's Hardware says in their Browser Grand Prix says that Firefox requires just 1 page reload to render the page perfectly. Others require much more than that (4 for Chrome and 9 for Opera Next!). Speedier than Chrome now as everybody says except Chrome fanboys.
The most efficient memory utilisation of all browsers. Less memory used.
Privacy, YEAH! Trusted upon by nearly every company/group for privacy concerns on Earth. The best. Period!
Safety. I have seen Firefox showing its own red danger alert on few sites. No other browser ever did so. Uses Google's Safe Browsing List.
Customisation degree *coughs* does anyone have to say anything on this? Over 7,000 addons in nearly every category which can make Firefox your Fort Knox. Plus "about:config" which you can use to tweak even the width of your tabs.


Light 40.0

This is a forked Firefox without the bloat that Firefox has become today. Use it. It's the same. All addons work the same way. You can find it on SourceForge. Remember to get the setup from the Files section. Version 39 onwards requires a Visual C++ Redistribution Update (~14 MB) which can be found there in Files section at SourceForge project page.


Google Chrome 45 Final

The most polished browser with a good developer tools kit. But crashes more often than Firefox. And can require page reloading often which ruins user experience. And probably the worst memory hog on your PC or Mac.
Privacy *coughs* Read Google Privacy Policy. It does not respect your privacy. Period.
Safety. Chrome fanboys say it has sandboxing feature which is safe. Pure BS. I have seen jailbreak-ed sandboxes. But separate tab processes... nice. Though Chrome does not survive browser crashes anyway. Restoring tabs has always been their problem I guess.
Customization is not Chrome's forte anyway. But with its nice Apps it can certainly win one's heart.


Opera 31

It is a nice browser. Has nearly equal customization scope minus addons that Firefox offers. It has become Chromium-based now, coming with more crashes and memory hogging. Your choice. Personally my second choice when Firefox fails to render pages properly due to installed add-ons.

Opera Next 24

Opera's beta channel. Nice but hogs memory. As said above, requires 9 page reloads to render page properly. Your choice. Your doom.


Safari 5.1.17

The awesome and Apple-ish finesse for Windows. Now unsupported. Problems due to no support for HTML5 might show in YouTube and sites that use this future web standard. Last version 5.1.17 available from many places.



Conclusion

I guess someone is going to yell - "you are a Firefox fanboy". I am not. I tried every browser available in the world about 6 years ago, and knew that Safari was the best even though I hate Apple. Even with all it has, I ranked Firefox 2nd because its inbuilt downloader downloaded slower than Safari. Chrome was a baby back then. Opera used to be the powerhouse in those days with inbuilt torrent and e-mail clients.

But things have changed a lot since then. Firefox is the ultimate stuff. Stuff of the legends. Now only one thing remains: when will everybody make their browsers as less memory hogs as they used to be when Firefox 3.6 was the king?

Light the forked Firefox has come to our rescue seemingly. Now I do not use Firefox but LIGHT (40.0) with all my addons as MY PRIMARY BROWSER.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The best Live CD to rescue data

*UPDATED - September 5 2015*

Hello! It's been 16 days (or 17) since I wrote a tech post. This one is very important for me in that it took me a long time to analyse all the available solutions on the market. It took my brains out and kept them engaged them all day and night, just to conclude which is the best Live CD for any system that I encounter. Some are dead simple to use, few are totally command-line (or terminal) and most are hybrids. Personally I prefer the third option. A large number of people will prefer the first type.

I have ranked them countdown wise with big numbers.

I will list all the utilities I will require for rescuing data from a system crash (for example, when it is impossible to boot into Windows, or if you forgot your Windows or BIOS password). Here they are:
  • Web browser (eg. Firefox)
  • Disk cloning tool (like Clonezilla?)
  • Hard disk wiping tool
  • 'dd' backup option
  • gzip and bzip2 CMD apps
  • Nice bootloader
  • Diagnostic tools
  • Text editor (to make notes or scripts on-the-spot)
  • Data recovery tool (TestDisk?)
  • Complete Internet connectivity support
  • Support for any filesystem (Linux or Mac or Windows)
  • CD/DVD burning tool (in case you want to backup data onto them)

best Live CD

I tested every possible Live CD and distro "specially made" for this task. I will highlight some of the best ones here: Damn Small Linux (DSL), SystemRescueCD, Trinity Rescue Kit, Parted Magic, Rescatux, Redo Backup, Ultimate Boot CD.

Why I did not include CloneZilla Live?

It is because it does not tick any box except the first one in my checklist.

Why I included DSL?

It does not have disk cloning tool, disk wiping tool and data recovery tool. But it can be your best bet on the old Pentium 486 machine with 16 MB RAM.

1. DSL 4.11 RC2


(to be used with the best at the bottom of article)
It is a good and fast Live CD for doing dd backups. It has Firefox and text editor, and looks great while having lot of functionality in 50 MBs in a time when you have 15 GB Windows 8.1 installations.
So which one did I choose as the best of the lot?
 

6. Parted Magic 01/08/2013


Remember Parted Magic is now paid, and the last free version (01/08/2013) is lethal poison to your PC's hardware. As quoted by Parted Magic author Patrick on his site:
"WARNING! A few sites on the internet are offering a file called pmagic_2013_08_01.iso for free download. This version was released with a very destructive USB corruption bug in the Linux kernel. We removed this file from our official mirrors to minimize the damage and quickly released version 2013_08_10 to replace it. The 2013_08_01 version also included a bug in the OLD Secure Erase GUI that would allow a user to erase an ATA disk through a USB interface. In some cases it would brick the expensive USB device. The OLD GUI would also set the secure erase password to NULL by default and using the disk on a Lenovo BIOS is not possible because a password cannot be entered. Version 2013_09_26 does not contain these flaws and is completely safe to use. Sorry for any inconvenience or loss suffered by using this unofficial/unsupported FREE pmagic_2013_08_01.iso. You have been warned."
Parted Magic is a paid option, and you need to give $10 for personal copy of the latest version, which means for an organisation or group it can be very costly.
  

5. Ultimate Boot CD 5.3.5


It is CMOS utilities plus diagnostic tools plus the state-of-the-art disk wiping tool DBAN plus Parted Magic free version. As warned, Parted Magic is extremely dangerous to use hence strictly not recommended.
  

4. Trinity Rescue Kit 3.4


It has text user interface (text menu) but a lot of the work has to be done through terminal (or command line). So if you do not want to dirty your hands and work in the dingy environment, keep scrolling down.
   

3. Rescatux 0.32 beta 3


It is a nice and easy to use Live CD for rescue operation. It can promote and erase Windows passwords and recover data and lot more in a button-style wizard mode. But the only concern is that it is still in beta mode and thus makes some users uncomortable using it. Though it is stable to a large extent.
  

2. Redo Backup and Recovery 1.0.4


It is the 2nd best in my test. It wins the prize for looks straight off. Super polished, while remaining small (261 MB) and has everything you would look for. It even has Facebook and Twitter apps. You can also add and use Skype during serious work. I find things like Facebook and Skype useless during such a task. Only one cons here: it cannot restore a partition backup to a single partition. Instead, it will erase any other hard disk contents and replace that with the backup. Bad when you want to restore backups to partition.
  

1. SystemRescueCD 4.5.4


This is the best of all and offers everything I want. It does not offer CloneZilla. Instead it offers the app on which CloneZilla runs: PartClone. Same text-based interface and same colours. Pretty much the same as CloneZilla, except the name "CloneZilla". It can burn backups and data on CD or DVD. It offers options for erasing Windows passwords and supports even Windows 7 for that. It offers text-based, command line interfaces and graphical interface by writing "startx" in command line. It also has diagnostic tools. A treasure for system administrators and tech geeks in short, while not being hard on the newbie with its quick and extremely descriptive online guides.


Conclusion


SystemRescueCD is the best for any system and the most functional, while not having Facebook or multimedia stuff. In short, for serious work while not getting messy with command line. DSL is for the weak and old hardware systems.

Comments in the form of disagreements would be considered. But my opinion stands still till then.

Friday, October 03, 2014

The best security for Windows for FREE

*UPDATED - September 5 2015*

Hello! I am gonna try my hands on this task, which seems 89.9-degree uphill. For the "freeware only" people. For those who want everything for free. Antivirus for Windows.

free vs paid security for windows


Windows is insecure as hell, with Microsoft not recommending its own Security Essentials. It spoofed its Windows Defender well. It had to move users from other security options, and it made people ditch everything for Security Essentials for sometime... till it got its marketshare and ditched it, just like other Microsoft programs.

See this article: http://hctechbyte.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/microsoft-self-destruct-countdown-begins/

It did its job well at its peak, catching 99% viruses for free, and real-time. The Windows Firewall also worked well. But now people have moved on, and as people move on to free solutions, they are boggled by the amount of articles declaring different solutions. My article may be one of them tomorrow. But if you read carefully, you will actually notice my solution works best.

So based on my personal experience, I will suggest you the best and rock-solid security for your Windows PC. It incldes all aspects. But before all that, I would like to tell you all the possible sources of viruses and malware (no article on the Internet specifying all possibilties till now). Here are possible virus sources:

  • USB and CD/DVD and memory card autorun (INI files)
  • Standalone EXEs, setups, BATs and COMs
  • Cracks and keygens
  • Fake and spoofed sites (porn and religious alike)
  • Network attacks
  • Malicious scripts (Javascript and/or ActiveX)
  • PDF/DOC(X)/XLS(X) documents embedded with virus
  • Malicious email attachments
  • Adware/spyware/toolbars embedded in setups commonly

I tackle each with efficiency. First instruction: Use or replace your browser with Firefox. Only then follow my instructions.

Let's start off with the easiest:


Email attachments

Stop using offline email clients. Login with browser and logout. Do not open these emails. Look at the email address where it has come from. If its your friends', phone him to confirm about attachments. Else delete it. Period.


Fake and spoofed sites

Install LinkExtend and WOT add-ons inside Firefox. Red means bad, green means safe. Any one flags any website as red, and you avoid it.


Cracks and keygens

Stop using paid software illegally. Try better free replacements for your softwares. There is hardly any software which does not have free alternative (exception WinRAR and CorelDraw).

Malicious scripts

Install NoScript add-on inside Firefox. Period.


PDF/DOC(X)/XLS(X) malicious documents

Upload each to VirusTotal. If any one flags it as danger, trash it. Contact author to clean up virus and then send it to you.


Network attacks

Use Comodo Firewall. It is the best and SHOULD be installed immediately after fresh Windows installation.

If it produces BSODs (which it does upon Windows installations crippled by registry cleaning, malware and junk installs), then install Emsisoft Online Armor.

If Emsisoft does not work in your case, use Private Firewall. It is quite impressive while keeping secure enough.

NOTE: Comodo producing BSODs is a great misconception. A well maintained or freshly installed Windows setup NEVER annoys.


USB and CD/DVD and memory card autorun (INI files)

If using Windows Vista and above, click Start and search AutoPlay. Open AutoPlay. Uncheck the box that says "Use AutoPlay for all media and devices". Do not leave it partially checked. Then install Ninja Pendisk on your PC. Turn on "Auto Clean" and "Disable AutoPlay" by right-clicking the green ninja in the taskbar tray. Use Unlocker software for the more problematic ones. (Below suggesting antivirus.)


How to immune my USB drive from other PCs?

There is only one solution, albeit free, to do this. This concept is weird in that your USB does not have any power to protect itself even after being opened in an infected PC. Get MX One. Install it on your USB drive and keep it updated.


Standalone EXEs, setups, BATs and COMs (long explanation)

People say often now that Panda Cloud AV is the best. Indeed it is, due to 100% detection rates at real-time for free! The top-end ones like Kaspersky and BitDefender are the ones to do that, which means pay, which you do not want to do.
Long story cut short, use Avira Antivirus Free 15. It does not depend on the cloud a.k.a. Internet to detect viruses, and most people are not online 24x7. Offline protection is where Panda fails miserably, and this is where Avira excels. But does not have detection rates like Panda (it has 99%) but better for offline security, and in cases where virus intrudes your system and disables your Internet connection permanently.
Panda is known to cache cloud database on a PC but only for previously detected viruses, not any other viruses. And it only protects you from current viruses, not MS-DOS or others which can still be effective.
Avira is known to have the largest virus database in free category (arguable, 360 Total Security or Avast?) and shields your PC overall (inarguable). It has much better protection than most free effective solutions.


Adware/spyware/toolbars embedded in setups commonly

Use free WinPatrol. Period.


Conclusion

Firefox + NoScript + LinkExtend + WOT + VirusTotal (online) + Comodo Firewall Free + Ninja Pendisk + MX One + Avira Antivirus Free + WinPatrol = FREE SOLID PROTECTION

P.S. I use Kaspersky PURE 3.0 with free WinPatrol instead of all that. Costs me 900 INR per year. Better security for some money. Can be worth it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The super benchmark: WinRAR VS 7-Zip

**UPDATE - October 4 2016**

Here is the latest WinRAR vs 7-Zip benchmark: http://hctechbyte.blogspot.com/2016/06/the-super-benchmark-winrar-531-vs-7-zip.html

Hello! In a debate on one of the two eternal wars (other being Firefox VS Chrome), I sort-of jump in through my blog to conclude which is the better of the two. This is a cauldron, as always, and does not cool down. So here I am with my comprehensive benchmark, which I did in a "test.txt". So I will copy all the Notepad text from there to show you the results.

winrar vs 7zip benchmark

But before that, two things.

One, the best archiver on the basis of feature set, supported by SqueezeChart 2014 benchmark was
concluded by me for Windows, Mac, Linux and Android on my other article. Here is the link: http://hctechbyte.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/the-best-file-archiver-for-windows-unix-linux-mac-and-android/

Two, WinRAR with 1 GB dict size usage requires only 3 GB RAM. But 7-Zip requires 11 GB RAM for 1 GB dict size, which one rarely has in his PC or laptop. So WinRAR is better for common PCs.

My benchmark is here, below this line.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
System Specs

Windows 7 Home Premium (OS also makes some difference in terms of optimisation of system resources)
Core i3-2120 3.3 GHz
4 GB DDR3 RAM
1 GB AMD Radeon HD 6450 gfx card
Seagate 1 TB HDD @ 7200 rpm

Datasets

MVSC (contains Cadillacs n Dinosaurs, Marvel Superheroes VS Street Fighter,
Marvel VS Capcom, Street Fighter Alpha 2, X-Men VS Street Fighter ROMs
and Final Burn Alpha 0.2.97.05 emulator) 119 MB

NFS Most Wanted installed game folder 2.83 GB

Oni installed game folder 1.01 GB

Dict size used
RAR5 128 MB
RAR 4 MB
7Z 64 MB (Best)
7Z 32 MB (Max)
7Z 16 MB (Normal)
7Z 1 MB (Fast)

Throughout, for 7Z, LZMA2 algorithm was used.
In each case Solid compression was used.

Note: In RAR and RAR5, Best and good were almost equivalent in size and time and
hardly made difference in memory usage,
which was doubling time to benchmark so to avoid time wastage, "good" was excluded.
Proof: you can see from the results.

Note: no test was done twice, as others say to remove hdd bottleneck.
This is a real-world performance test, and as expected, no one would compress a file
twice to ensure removal of bottlenecks as it will take nearly double the time to do such a task practically.

NOTE: NO OTHER PROCESS WAS RUNNING WHILE COMPRESSING WAS GOING ON.

Time is in seconds throughout.

Tests

Folder Format Mode CompressTime ArchiveSize

MVSC 7Z Ultra 32.6 110 MB
MVSC 7Z Max 24.3 110 MB
MVSC 7Z Normal 18.4 110 MB
MVSC 7Z Fast 13 111 MB

MVSC RAR Best 12 111 MB
MVSC RAR Normal 13 111 MB
MVSC RAR Fast 12 111 MB
MVSC RAR Fastest 4.8 112 MB

MVSC RAR5 Best 23 111 MB
MVSC RAR5 Normal 31 111 MB
MVSC RAR5 Fast 21 111 MB
MVSC RAR5 Fastest 3 111 MB

NFS MW 7Z Ultra 657 1.84 GB
NFS MW 7Z Max 616 1.84 GB
NFS MW 7Z Normal 506 1.85 GB
NFS MW 7Z Fast 288 1.96 GB

NFS MW RAR Best 299 1.94 GB
NFS MW RAR Normal 317 1.94 GB
NFS MW RAR Fast 589 1.92 GB
NFS MW RAR Fastest 132 2.03 GB

NFS MW RAR5 Best 739 1.91 GB
NFS MW RAR5 Normal 661 1.91 GB
NFS MW RAR5 Fast 592 1.92 GB
NFS MW RAR5 Fastest 101 2.03 GB

NFS MW TAR+GZ Normal 105+166 2.08 GB *Just to prove how BAD GZip is, because people say GZip is superfast

Oni 7Z Ultra 216 313 MB
Oni 7Z Max 213 383 MB
Oni 7Z Normal 160 423 MB
Oni 7Z Fast 71 500 MB

Oni RAR Best 109 487 MB
Oni RAR Normal 86 482 MB
Oni RAR Fast 75 485 MB
Oni RAR Fastest 40 528 MB

Oni RAR5 Best 145 297 MB
Oni RAR5 Normal 115 298 MB
Oni RAR5 Fast 81 300 MB
Oni RAR5 Fastest 23 519 MB

Extraction

7-Zip and WinRAR mean the time in seconds they took to decompress archives. N/A represents inability to extract archive.

Folder (Format Mode) 7-Zip WinRAR

MVSC - in all cases time varied between 0.7 and 2 secs

NFS MW (7Z Fast) 127 211
NFS MW (RAR5 Best) N/A 76
NFS MW (RAR Best) 93 80

Oni (RAR5 Normal) N/A 0:13
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Conclusion

RAR5 with Fast setting with Solid compression is the best setting for common usage. But when you have to compress 1000's of files, whether big or small, and you may have to extract one of them sometime, uncheck Solid compression (in WinRAR) or select Non-Solid in 7-Zip.

WinRAR is better for daily life usage, even though 7-Zip has better compression (2-3%). But time is money, and 7-Zip wastes that to get smaller archives. WinRAR is efficient enough for daily life usage.

NOTE: If you want to see more efficient archivers than WinRAR, then look at FreeArc and NanoZip.

Hope for comments on this one.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The best AV converter for Windows, Linux and Mac

*UPDATED - September 5 2015*

Hello! I am gonna talk about another not-so-disputed category of software - audio-video converters. This category has some intense competition between few makers. I will talk about that later. And let me tell you - I have reviewed the latest versions of the video converters as soon as they were available. But first let me make it clear what an actual AV converter is.

An AV converter is a tool that converts your videos as fast as possible while not lowering or pixelating your video or audio output in any case. It should have a very simple GUI which even a child can understand. It may also have additional options for tweaking, trimming and light video editing. It should accept any common audio and video format so the user is not forced to download any additional tool or plugin or add-on later on.

My criteria is a tad bit different from other reviewers. This is the prioritised checklist:
  • Extremely large input format support
  • Conversion to MP4, MPG and legacy 3GP video formats
  • Conversion to MP3 and WAV audio formats
  • Easy to use interface (or GUI; technical terms... ugh!)
  • Light video editing and trimming option
  • CD/DVD ripping option

NOTE: There can be adware/spyware in my suggested options since they might be added after the time of reviewing (nothing to do with my review :P).

So let's have a look at the contenders for the title: Freemake, SUPER, Wondershare Video Converter.

NOTE: 3GP is a very important video format since it is the only video format that can run on Java phones (the cheap Nokia feature phones and the like).

So why did I choose these video converters out of the crowd? You will get the point after reading the complete review.

best-video-converters-for-windowsWindows

Freemake Video Converter 4.1.7


It has recently improved its core files to make it more stable. It has recently added support for iPhone 5S and 5C. (Sorry iPhone 6 users!)
It is the simplest of all. So simple even your granny can use it if she knew how to point and move the mouse cursor. It supports almost every format out of the blue. It converts for most mobiles and devices, and also gives you the option to convert into the common video formats.
It also offers light video editing and trimming.

Disadvantage 1: Does not offer intensive control of the conversion process (tweaking every setting? No way!). But that will make it difficult to use. For such control, I recommend SUPER.
Disadvantage 2: It does not convert into WAV audio format. For that I recommend another video converter that can be used as Freemake's sidekick: SUPER.


SUPER 2014 build 65


Why did I choose SUPER, a such underrated and obscure video converter? Not to mention it is bulky (66 MB offline installer).

It is the only video converter that encodes ASF, MOV and WMV into the new standard H.265 (or HEVC codec). (Hell, even the paid ones cannot do this now.) Only MKV and MP4 are supported by others for HEVC encoding.

It is a complete tool for the video studios and video editing pros. If anyone wants to have total control over the conversion process, this is it. Of course, you should have some knowledge of audio and video codecs. Also the bitrates and frequency. And all the gobble-de-geek I don't want to say to humiliate you.

Another sidekick for converting MIDI files: Free MIDI to MP3 Converter.


Free MIDI to MP3 Converter


The name says it all. MIDI files are not supported by any free video converter as inbuilt. So an external app was needed for this job. It is around 7 MBs. Keep this with you if you like. I had to use it once for my mobile ringtones.


OR AN ALL-IN-ONE PAID ALTERNATIVE


wondershare-video-converter




Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate 8.4.0



It is equal to Freemake + SUPER + Free MIDI to MP3 Converter.
It does not include ASF, MOV and WMV conversion into the new H.265 (or HEVC codec).
It does not rip DVDs like Freemake.
It does not have as many codecs as SUPER for both audio and video.


Linux


ff-multi-converter



FF-Multi Converter



It is an audio, video, pictures and documents converter. It should rather be called a universal converter. Best of all, it is free. Though bulky, it converts into more than 110 formats (of course depending on whether input file is a document or video).




Mac

any-video-converter-for-mac



Any Video Converter 7.0.7



It is a good video converter that fits my criteria. MP4 for all Apple devices, 3GP for cheap feature phones and MP3 for songs. Period.

 

Is your favourite app excluded?

This section tells you why your favourite and popular choice was excluded.
HandBrake: Cannot convert to 3GP format (important for little feature phones)
Miro Video Converter: Cannot convert to 3GP format
MacX Quicktime Video Converter: Cannot convert to 3GP format

 

Conclusion

Use the 3 free apps in Windows in conjunction with each other. Only formats excluded are the obscure KAROKE formats and the like. Otherwise you will be able to tackle most audios and videos from the Internet or from your friend. (Maybe even your electronic piano?)

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Why piracy is necessary

Hello! I am going to advocate for a right that is illegal to say the least - piracy. Yes, I am going to do so. I am not going to stay in those diplomatic or a puritan shell where everybody considers you right. I may be wrong, but I can say that that after reading this article, everybody will either whisper secretly in their dorm diplomatic cocoons or come out of their shells and say it loud and clear - "I support piracy."

So, let's start off with a negative note - why piracy should NOT exist: games, movies, songs and softwares can be copied and used for free for which lots of money, time and effort has undergone.
That is just one statement why all these companies like anti-piracy campaigns. These companies support SOPA and PIPA and all the load of shit that has ever come out in the form of bills or white papers or .... or anything.

So, why is piracy a necessary evil?

I will explain you with an example: friction. Okay, anyone who has read any bit of friction (even in the junior classes) has read that friction causes wear and tear of machines. Right? And you could use ball bearings to overcome that. But remember - you can walk on earth only because of friction. Imagine if there were no friction - you couldn't walk to your home toilet to pee. Frightened?

Now I will compare that example exactly with this: piracy causes money losses to companies. It can be overcome by anti-piracy bills and DVD/BluRay/USB encryptions. But remember - you can't copy it to view movies on a smartphone, which does not have a USB port or DVD reader. You can't copy it to preserve it as DVD/BluRay can become useless within 5 years of purchase due to physical scratches or extreme heat exposure.

Today I can attribute the preservation of years old Sega Genesis, SNES, NES, Atari and any other old gaming console cartridges to the pirate guys who ripped the cartridges. The rare ones which haven't been ripped must be ripped to preserve them. Of course, that could mean piracy of even those cartridges. I have a solution to that - but that could mean "PIRACY" because their makers can't make money out of that product anymore. Stop being such cry babies, okay anti-piracy advocates?
Today I can attribute the preservation of old songs and old movies to pirates. Today I can attribute preserved old scanned copies of manuscripts and documents to pirates (and maybe some officials?). Today I can attribute those old historical photos/pics you could show to your child/grandson on your PC or phone to piracy.

All the past that could be preserved somehow has been preserved by pirates. These bills and advocacy are only making it harder to preserve them in digital form.

One more instance: I wanted to watch an Indian movie that was copyrighted and was on an encrypted DVD. My father wanted to watch it on my PC. But I had to publish this article since it had been 10 days since I published an article (my frequency is an article every 7 days). So I used the great, powerful Freemake to rip that darn encrypted DVD. It took around 50 minutes to rip that DVD, but now I can simply copy the AVI file on a microSD card or a USB to watch it on a smartphone or tablet.

That is a real example, as a person on Earth (and not Utopia) can identify well with that situation.

I will use a video here. Credits to Question Copyright.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeTybKL1pM4

Request you strongly to go to this page: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

I will use some pictures. Credits to the links are below each image.











I want to leave you with one last question: if you were in their place, would you stop making money out of a movie, song or software after... let's say three years?

If no, then you are pretty much like other companies (Sony, Norton, Microsoft etc.) who don't drop off the anti-piracy tag even after years when they don't make that song "LEGALLY" available to you. Don't support piracy.

If yes, then you have made 99% of the money you could ever and that 1% of making money could sting the civilians and people to being supportive for anti-anti-piracy = PIRACY.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The best system tuning suite for Windows

*UPDATED - July 8 2015*

Hello! I am ready with an in-depth analysis of the best system tuning suites for Windows. It took three years for this research to complete. This is not gross, so please give this article 5 minutes of your lifetime. Thanks!

So, what is a system tuning suite? Does it sound like TuneUp Utilities or iolo's System Mechanic? Or Advanced System Care Free? Or Glary Utilities Free? Or even ToolWiz Care Free? Or even SlimCleaner? No. Nil. Nought. Never. Never ever.

It sounds to me like CCleaner and a handful other free apps.





best-system-tuning-suite


So read on to know what actually works for a PC tuneup (and I am talking about the kind of gross tuneup guides that are scattered all over the web).

You need $0, 0 INR, 0 Euros or 0 of any currency. You need absolutely no cash for this tough job made simpler.

Download these utilities: CCleaner, CCEnhancer, Boost by Reason, BootRacer, Defraggler, PC Decrapifier, DiskFresh, FixWin, GigaTweaker, TweakMe!, TCPOptimizer, SpeedFan, Process Tamer, Process Piglet, Unlocker, Xtreme Download Manager, FoxSpeed Ultimate 0.15.

NOTE: Search for them at Google, or for more convenience, on Softpedia and MajorGeeks.

NOTE: I assume that you all know how to install any type of programs while being careless about toolbars included in them.

Now that you have downloaded all of them, firstly run a good antivirus
(http://hctechbyte.blogspot.in/2014/04/protecting-your-computer-and-mobile.html
http://hctechbyte.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/protecting-your-computer-and-mobile-from-viruses/)
, then HijackThis and Malwarebytes Free Edition to remove all viruses and worms and browser hijackers.

Firstly install and set up BootRacer on your PC. Restart your PC with it. Note down the startup time it announces.

Now install Unlocker. It can handle anything that might conflict with your tweaking and program removing.

Now run PC Decrapifier. Follow the program’s instructions. Create a system restore point to reverse any changes. Tick toolbars you may find in the long list of installed programs and other crap apps. Not to mention the once-used apps you have forgotten about.

Now again run HijackThis to remove any browser hijackers which might have conflicted with other crap installations before.

Now install CCleaner. Do not run it. Install and run CCEnhancer. Update your CCleaner definitions (INI file) and close it. Now run CCleaner. Do remember NOT to select anything in the “Advanced” category. It will slower your PC cleaning process.

After you have done half the job, install FixWin and create a System Restore point. Repair some settings of your PC like icon cache, missing Recycle Bin from desktop, Internet Options defaults and the like. Restart your PC on prompt.

Feeling better about your PC? I still have to make it a F1 race car and not just a 14 second car. :)

Reset internet settings by opening MS-DOS Command Prompt using Administrator rights (i.e. "Run As Administrator" after right-clicking CMD.exe) and type "netsh winsock reset". Restart computer.

Run TCPOptimizer. It is portable. Now you can see some options at the bottom like Windows Default, Current, Optimal and Custom. Do not worry, I won’t make you mess up with that. Just select “Optimal” and restart your PC on prompt.


tcpoptimizer

Download FoxSpeed Ultimate 0.15 from SourceForge in Files section. Run as Administrator and use "/accel" command there. And now use Xtreme Download Manager as your download client.

Your internet connection will work better about 20-25%.

Now install and/or run GigaTweaker (depending on whether you have downloaded installer or portable ZIP). Now that you have entered the program, firstly create a system restore point (program will prompt you before opening). Then you have to adjust some settings, which I will mention here to make your job easier.

Go to System-->System and select “Launch Desktop and Taskbar in separate process” and “Force DLL unload from memory”.

Then go to Optimization-->System Boost. Select “Turn off the Search Indexer” and “Disable showing compressed ZIP files as folders” and “Disable showing compressed CAB files as folders”.

Now go to Optimization-->Startup Boost. You should disable the first two options. That won’t do you any harm, however risky they look to you.

Now go to Optimization-->Advanced. If you use a third-party burning toll like Nero or CDBurnerXP, select “Disable built-in CD/DVD burning feature”.

If you want few GBs of more disk space, select “Disable the hibernate function”. Though this will not help you much as there is usually a lot of disk space there in your hard drive.

Now go to Memory Management-->RAM and Disk Cache. Select 8 MB option for L2 cache. This should help you enough in getting a speed boost while opening/closing programs.

Close the program and restart your PC. Your startup time will decrease a lot. But there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Install and run TweakMe!. First hand, create a System Restore point. The green text shows safe tweaks, the orange potential ones and the red ones ARE NOT BAD TWEAKS. They are slightly advanced ones which require advanced users to fiddle with. Do not worry as I will only recommend you the green and orange ones anyway.

When you click the dropdown button on top left corner, you can find more tweaks for SSDs and some fixes. Do use SSD optimisation options for even bigger boosts on PCs with SSD(s).

This is a bit tricky for novices so I will tell you the options to select.

Leave Action-Center category.

In Aero, select 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th options only.

In AntiSpy, select the first three options.

Leave Internet Explorer category.

In Performance, select 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th, 10th and last option.

NOTE: You must disable “Disable Windows Defender” if you use a good antivirus and firewall already to prevent conflicts.

In Security, select “Don’t let Anonymouse users list SAM accounts”, “Restrict access to Base System Objects” and “Show File Extensions”.

In User Account Control, select “Stop Blacking Out the Screen” only.

In Windows, select “Disable Firewall” both options, “Disable WBEM Logging”, “Show Control Panel in My Computer”, “Show Encrypted and…” and “Show Run command on Start Menu”.

In Windows Media Player, select 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th options.

In Windows Update, select “Prevent Windows Update from…” option only.

After applying these tweaks, restart your PC. You will see a much bigger improvements. But there is always room for improvement.

Now install and run Boost by Reason (also known as Boost, though it might show up a hundred things on Googling with the lone term). In its Options (gear icon), enable “Auto Boost” function and hit the bar at around 85%. Now click the X mark and lose the program. It should minimize to the Taskbar Tray.

Whenever you feel like your PC is sluggish, single-click the Boost icon in the tray and click “Boost” button. Close the results window later.

Now install SpeedFan. Run it. Click the “Configure” button. In its Options tab, select “Start minimized”. Close the Configure dialog box. Tick the “Automatic fan speed” button on the main interface.

NOTE: STRICTLY DO NOT FIDDLE WITH THE SETTINGS UNDER ANY TAB EXCEPT ”Charts” and ”Readings”.

SpeedFan will keep your PC cooler in the summers enough to overcome any overheating anytime.

Now install DiskFresh. Run it. Check your hard drives for errors and repair those.

Now install Process Tamer and Process Piglet.

NOTE: Now remember these are special freeware that require keys since the author requires you to visit his site at least once. Sign up for free and get a 6-month key for both the programs. You can also get 2-month keys without sign up but you will have to put them every two months. In both of them, go to Help-->About and enter license key from the website. After one year of registration, you will get a permanent license key for all their programs at www.donationcoder.com. You can also choose to donate few dollars to get the permanent key immediately, but that does not solve the purpose because you do not have a penny to spend on tuning up your PC, as said earlier. (Though I am so impressed, I will donate him some dollars.)

Run Process Tamer and if required, double-click the weights icon in the Taskbar Tray. Its main interface should show up. Here, if you have a program like antivirus that runs continuously and eats up your CPU usage, set explicit rule for such programs as “Force Low”. Close the window and you are done forever. Forget it now.

Process Piglet tells you about the programs (like Firefox or Chrome) and games that eat up your RAM and gives you the option to forcefully restart them. Though in case of games, high RAM usage is alright unless you have less RAM installed.

Now install and run Defraggler. Set boot defrag immediately and restart. Now set full defrag on all drives. Let it complete.

FOR SSDs: Use "Optimize" option instead of Defrag. Defragging SSDs can render them useless in a short span of time because SSDs are not made for multiple read and writes as compared to HDDs.


For more on its linking with Firefox, see this page:

http://hctechbyte.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-best-download-manager-for-windows.html

OR

https://hctechbyte.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/the-best-system-tuning-suite-for-windows/


Now restart your PC. It should run like a F1 race car until the end of Earth or your Windows
crash date.

Now run BootRacer once again. Compare the previous and new boot times. You should find a difference of about 1 minute for not-maintained-at-all PCs, 20-30 seconds for slightly maintained PCs and 5-10 seconds for nicely maintained PCs. Uninstall BootRacer. Whenever you feel like your startup is sluggish, check boot times. It is sometimes ONLY AN ILLUSION of less speedy PC when you often find your PC in good shape.


Hope you like this guide on PC maintenance. Do not forget to comment for appreciation or queries, or even objection. :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The best download manager for Windows, Linux and Mac

*UPDATED - July 8 2015*

Hello! Today I am going to give you a review of the latest versions of the download managers I have selected after about 2 months of intense research and real testing on my PC (no virtual machine testings).

But before we start, let me tell you what a download manager is.
A download manager, contrary to your thinking, is a tool that helps manage all your files smartly the instant you start downloading them. It essentially also serves a way to use your bandwidth more efficiently (as opposed to them increasing your bandwidth - it is in the hands of your ISP) so as to give you a better download speed. It may have browser integration facility. It may also contain a website downloader.

So I selected these download managers: Xtreme Download Manager, Internet Download Manager, Download Accelerator Plus, Free Download Manager, Gigaget, FlashGot, DownThemAll! and FlashGet.

best-download-manager


On what basis did I select them? Here is the prioritised list:
  • Smart sorting of files
  • Faster download speed
  • Browser integration
  • Website downloading (or grabbing)
  • Download queueing facility

So I start writing about each of them:

Xtreme Download Manager 5.1.17 beta (FREE AND OPEN SOURCE) + FlashGot 1.5.6.12 + HTTrack 3.48.21

It takes few words to describe XDM - the new king. Period. IDM is dethroned officially. Faster than IDM, it is the lightest download manager of all. It is an EXACT COPY OF IDM. It is FREE and OPEN SOURCE. Only feature it misses as compared to IDM: website grabber. That can be overcome by the free and open source and cross-platform HTTrack. It has much more customisation options than IDM Site Grabber. Which means that you do not need to buy or pirate IDM at all. Only one disadvantage: integration might cause problem, albeit very little. To overcome that completely, use FlashGot and set XDM as the default downloader for your browser.

Internet Download Manager (IDM) 6.21 build 12 (PAID)

The download manager has recently added support for searching for your download through the list and support for Firefox 39 and SeaMonkey 2.33. It has the best integration (except FlashGot *no typo*) into any browser you can find. It has a superb website grabber (I have used it twice!) with various filters and options for specific files' downloading. It is the 2nd most speedy of all. It also has an advanced queueing facility and option to schedule your download(s). But the downside: it comes at a price of $30 (lifetime license). The vast feature list with the most lightweight interface is the reason IDM is one of the most pirated software on the Internet.

Free Download Manager (FDM) 5 Preview (OPEN SOURCE)

It is the third fastest download manager, is highly optimised as compared to old 3.9 version. It has a very aesthetic interface, is more feature rich than IDM and supports almost every protocol (even RTSP for m.youtube.com videos). It is better than IDM on every front except speed (5 KB/s difference per 400 KB/s connection approx.). And the biggest plus point - it will soon be available in GUI and command-line for Linux and Mac also. So if you don't regret that bit less speed optimising, go for this one.

DownThemAll! 3.0 beta 6 (FREE)

It is the only option available currently for Linux and Mac along with Windows, since it is a Firefox add-on. It is the fourth most speedy of all, but falls short on the smart sorting feature. Best choice for Linux and Mac OS until FDM comes up with the Linux and Mac OS versions.

Download Accelerator Plus (DAP) 10.0.6.0

It is the 5th most speedy download manager on my list. It has all the features of IDM, plus strong browser integration. The bit lesser speed makes it tumble to third place on my list. But the plus side: it is available as free version.

FlashGot 1.5.6.4 + Gigaget 1.0.0.23

NOTE: BEWARE OF 20 TIMES SPEEDY CLAIM!

It is the 4th fastest download manager. Both are free. The only cons: has a weak integration, which is overcome with the combined use of FlashGot with which GigaGet is set as the default downloader. Slightly slower than IDM though.

FlashGet 3.7

It comes at 6th position of all those available on the Internet. It has a rich feature list, but is a turn off when it comes to download speed. Almost no edge over the default Firefox/Chrome inbuilt downloaders. Better for smart sorting though. So go for the above ones.

CONCLUSION

So, XDM and IDM are the top picks of this competition. Go for either one. But if you are running Linux or Mac OS, go for XDM as it one of the few ones with a GUI (interface) (no command line scribbling!)

Please comment any queries if you want other choice for Linux or Mac. Any other replies will also be appreciated and replied as soon as possible.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The best file archiver for Windows, Unix/Linux, Mac and Android

Hello! Today I am gonna talk about my favourite category of software - file archivers. Yeah, I am gonna show you the favourites I have found over the course of 4 years of research and testing of every file archiver out there - dead projects or slowly developed, or in fact the ones frequently updated.

But let me tell you what a file archiver a.k.a. compression tool is. A file archiver is a tool designed to combine several files into one file, which is ideal for sharing through file sharing sites or as attachments. It is also used for making backups. It may also have the ability to adjust the files in a way so that they together become a compact file on storage media.

I want to thank SqueezeChart (http://www.squeezechart.com/SqueezeChart.pdf) for providing me the latest compression benchmarks (saved me a lot of time, though I also did a benchmark years back).
RAR is the king on Windows, TAR on Unix/Linux and SIT/SITX on Mac. The real problem is: what solution to come up with for each of the three major platforms/OSes? No one usually writes an article with all solutions bundled, rather they divide it into three articles to get more pageviews on their blog/website. I do as promised. So my followers and first-time visitors, the discussion is going to start now. After about 4 years of research (emphasising on that), I am going to present my results to you.

But before that, you should know three things:
I have written only about the best archivers under each OS category.
RAR format is second only to ZIP in terms of popularity. 7Z is third most popular.
And what were the factors on which I selected the best out of the best? Here they are (no priority):
  • Popularity
  • Stability
  • Format efficiency
  • Program update frequency
  • Speedy response (loading times, not compressing times!)
  • Easy to use
  • SFX ability
  • Recovery record ability
  • Security
  • Comment feature
  • Looks
  • Theme availability
best file archiver

So, the selected utilities are:
  • Windows: Universal Extractor, WinRAR, 7-Zip, FreeARC, PeaZip (not discussed)
  • Unix/Linux: GnomeRAR, WinRAR, p7zip, FreeARC, PeaZip (discussed here)
  • Mac: WinRAR, Keka, SimplyRAR, The Unarchiver, StuffIt
  • Android: RAR for Android 5.10, B1 Free Archiver
Note: StuffIt Deluxe is always a bad option since its decompression needs a special 10 MB StuffIt Expander tool to be downloaded. Hence not discussed and strictly not recommended by me.

Windows
Universal Extractor 1.6.1
It is basically the Unarchiver of Windows, just that it is much more powerful. It only extracts and not compresses, so can be a sidekick alongwith the main archive tool to be used. The list of formats it can extract is too long, hence see this link: http://legroom.net/software/uniextract#formats

WinRAR 5.11 beta 1 (SHAREWARE)
Looks, features and efficiency - it got all in 1.6 MBs. A list of all the features it has:
Most stable
Very efficient
Wizard mode for novices
Frequently updated
SFX ability (also installer creation ability)
Multivolume support
Very speedy response
Superb recovery record feature (also adjustable!)
Comment feature
Best security of all
Advanced BLAKE2 hash checksum (also old CRC hash)
Almost all common formats supported
Best looks
Themes available
Note: One feature it has which no archiver on any platform has: set profiles and add them into context menu with immediate execution (no dialog box popping up!).
It got one cons:
$30 for lifetime license (justified!)

7-Zip 9.34 alpha (FREE AND OPEN SOURCE)
Bad looks, less efficiency and even lesser features - that's what it is. A list of all the features it got:
Free and open-source
Good security
Most speedy
Least efficient (nice compression though)
SFX ability
Multivolume support
3rd party themes available (7-Zip Theme Manager: http://www.7ztm.de)
It has lots of cons:
Unstable (stable till 9.20 version)
No wizard mode
No context menu additions by default (novices will have to Google for solutions)
An ancient-looking software
Very slow development

FreeARC 0.67 alpha (March 2014) (FREE AND OPEN SOURCE)
Very similar to WInRAR. I can see it being the open source variant of WinRAR. I also see it as RAR and 7Z combined to get a super hybrid format, and lots of efficiency. Just if its development and interface were better. A look at all its cons:
Equal to WinRAR minus: the good looks, speed response, efficiency, comprehensive installer creation ability, multivolume feature and wizard mode. Also no themes.

NanoZip 0.09 alpha (FREE)
The PAQ of the efficient archivers. Competes with the mathematically advanced RK and PAQ family formats while also competing with the efficient archivers. Provides magically compressed files. Just that it is not developed and is still in the alpha stage. A list of the features it has:
Magically efficient
Super speedy and clean interface
Super speedy compression
SFX ability
The cons:
Development at snail's pace (3 years ago last release)
No wizard mode
No security
No comment feature
No GUI for SFXes
No context menu feature

Conclusion
WinRAR wins hands down. FreeARC at no. 2. 7-Zip at no. 3. NanoZip at no. 4.

Unix/Linux

You don't have many good options for Unix/Linux systems. And since the formats used are comparatively less complicated (TAR), we have few options to select the best archiver.

WinRAR
It is only a command-line version, and most Linux users are aware of how to use command line apps, unlike Windows and Mac dumb people. For some who don't like it, I have another alternative for you down.

GnomeRAR
It is basically WinRAR that has got a usable and nice interface for itself. Only for GNOME distro users.

I can't disappoint KDE distro users, so I have a trick down my sleeves for you:
DoubleCommander with RAR command-line file  (trust me, it will work!)

PeaZip
This is the real winner here, with the best GUI/interface in Linux. A look at its features:
Ability to decompress over 130 formats without any support/addons
Compresses to TAR, ZIP, 7Z, GZIP, BZIP2 and the PAQ variants
Speedy and clean interface
SFX ability for 7Z and ZIP
Context menu integration
It has no cons as far as I know (atleast for Linux).

p7zip
As discussed above (see 7-Zip in Windows category), it is not that nice. Though since many options aren't available, it is popular.

FreeARC
It again is not that good, and ARC format is not so popular on any platform.

Conclusion
PeaZip wins hands down. WinRAR at no. 2. 7-Zip at no. 3. FreeARC at no. 4.

Mac

There are even fewer options here, as listed above.

StuffIt
It has a very uncommon format SIT/SITX which is only used and seen on Macs. Please abandon it and use something more common like ZIP or 7Z format. Strictly not recommended.

WinRAR
A command-line version is available for Mac.

RARMachine
Same as WinRAR with a usable interface.

Keka
It is the 7-Zip of Mac. Powerful and has the ability to compress into 7Z, ZIP, TAR and some other uncommon formats. Nice.

Conclusion
Keka wins hands down. WinRAR/RARMachine at no. 2. StuffIt does not deserve any rank.

Android

RAR 5.10
It is the WinRAR of Android. As discussed above, its popularity and efficiency can't be beaten till decades.

B1 Free Archiver
A cross-platform archiver, it has its own B1 format. Nice but you are lucky if you find one B1 file in your lifetime anywhere. It also offers ZIP support.

Conclusion
RAR wins hands down. B1 is the only other option. Rest are only fakes and extractors found on Play Store.

Final Conclusion

So what I can see is this: WinRAR (or RAR) is for all platforms and is second only to ZIP in terms of popularity. So use WinRAR. And just to assure you that my blog is not very popular (as of August 10, 2014) so I cannot be paid by WinRAR to write such a comprehensive cross-platform review.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The best file manager

*UPDATED - July 8 2015*

Hello! Today I am going to talk about file managers/commanders.

First of all, get clear about what file manager is. It is a pretty nice solution to get rid of the dull and obsolete default Explorer in Windows. One of the first of them (and most popular) was the Norton Commander (yes, the antivirus one!) that came in the 90's. Today all of the file managers are known as NC clones (NC - Norton Commander).

This software is something most tech geeks have played with in their lifetime, and some other non-geeks too have given it a thumbs up. But whenever someone is asked to reward one out of those hundreds of file managers as the best, everyone has varied opinion. Of course I will have too.

file manager competition

Welcome to the highly debatable topic of the best file manager on earth. (You may also know it as file commander.) So today, after months of testing the latest version of each file manager software out there, I have come up with the best of the lot. Here are those (not in ranking order):
  • Q-Dir 6.11 (FREE) (WINDOWS)
  • MultiCommander 5.11 (FREE) (WINDOWS)
  • Double Commander 0.6.3 beta (FREE & OPEN SOURCE) (WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX)
  • SpeedCommander 15.6 (PAID) (WINDOWS)
  • Directory Opus 11 (PAID) (WINDOWS)
  • Unreal Commander 2.02 (FREE) (WINDOWS)
Some would say this review is somewhat common to others. So, what was my basis of coming up with this result and not something else?
  • Practically useful features
  • Plugins support
  • Integration into Windows (replacing the Explorer)
  • Archive support (without external EXE usage)
  • Tabbed browsing
  • RAM and processor friendly / Resource friendly
  • Linux support
Why I just said Linux is because Microsoft's future is bleak, as said here: (http://hctechbyte.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/microsoft-self-destruct-countdown-begins/
http://hctechbyte.blogspot.in/2014/07/microsoft-self-destruct-countdown-begins.html)
So, what do I expect in the chosen ones? Not all of them in any one. Surprising? Most software reviewers try to bring and claim something that has all of it. Some of them have succeeded, though later told by users that their review was a fake. Well, I don't do all that kind of crap. I bring true results to people.


Q-Dir

Screenshots: http://www.softwareok.com/?seite=Freeware/Q-Dir/Screenshots
  • Can have upto four panes in any arrangement possible
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Can save state. For example, you are working with three folders, and you want to close the program and want to work with those very folders the next time you open the program. Use the Save State option and open the 2 KB file wherever you have saved it. It will feel as if you never closed the program.
  • Resource friendly
  • Extremely small size (>1 MB)
  • 32-bit and 64-bit support with Unicode character support
  • Portable versions available
So, it is for sure a complete file manager, right? No. Such a small package can't have everything in its arsenal. There's got to be some disadvantages. So here they are:
  • A bad program author who does not take time and fix many bugs altogether
  • Once integrated into Windows, Control Panel will stop opening
  • No archive support other than ZIP
  • No complex search feature available
  • No Linux support
Note: If you get habitual to Q-Dir, others will become useless for you. You can use third-party apps along with Q-Dir to make work easier. But this is what tabs are made for. Use multiple tabs for many folders in two pane managers.


MultiCommander

Screenshots: http://multicommander.com/screenshots
  • Practically completely useful
  • All plugins come with the setup, that too already configured for you
  • Good integration into Windows
  • Resource friendly
  • Superb archive support (latest RAR5 (WinRAR 5.xx) extraction supported)
  • Complex search feature
  • Small size (16 MB after installing)
  • Portable versions available
  • A very good program author who leaves no errors to complain about
So, it looks more complete. In fact, the ultimate package, right? No. Though it has two things to worry about:
  • All help is online, no help file made
  • When will the author get a Linux version out?

Double Commander


Screenshots: http://doublecmd.sourceforge.net/static_gallery_mirror/
  • Better than Total Commander
  • Support for every Total Commander plugin available
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Resource friendly
  • Complex search feature
  • Covers most archives' extraction (RAR5 supported!)
  • Small size (11 MB after installing)
  • Portable versions available
  • Linux and Mac support
  • Good program author
  • Open source code (development can never stop)
It looks pretty much complete. And indeed it is. But it also has its share of worries:
  • No OS integration
  • No theme support, only single color changing for bars
But atleast if Windows goes down some day, this program will be there for Linux or Mac.


SpeedCommander


Screenshots: http://www.speedproject.de/sc/screenshots/
  • Simple and clean interface with pleasant themes inbuilt
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Best archive support to exist (Compression and extraction: 7Z, ACE, ARJ, BZIP, CAB, GZIP, JAR, LZH, RAR, SQX, TAR, UUE, ZIP | Extraction only: ZIPX, RAR5)
  • Quick access to the desktop and system folders (VERY IMPORTANT FOR POWER USERS)
  • Nero-like burning tool inbuilt
  • ISO making tool inbuilt
  • Complex search feature
  • Good program author(s)
  • Portable version available (http://portableappz.blogspot.in)
It has a lot of problems in it:
  • Paid (you will have to get bucks out of your pocket!)
  • Only 7-8 plugins available, that too by the author
  • No OS integration
  • German help only, no English or other language help made available till date
  • Uses moderate resources, slightly heavy for slow PCs
  • 60 MB after installing
  • No Linux support

Unreal Commander

Screenshots: https://x-diesel.com/ (slideshow on the top right side)
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Resource friendly
  • All Total Commander plugins supported
  • Complex search feature
  • Good program author
  • Small size (about 20 MB) after installing
But there are lots of problems. Here they are:
  • Bad interface
  • Portable version not available
  • No OS integration
  • No Linux support

Directory Opus


Screenshots: http://www.gpsoft.com.au/program/screenshots.html
  • Best file manager to exist on earth
  • Tabbed browsing
  • Viewer for common audio and video formats
  • Viewer for common documents
  • Complete archive support for RAR, 7Z and ZIP and some other common formats
  • Best ever Windows integration by any such program
  • Has burning and image making tools inbuilt
  • Has image editing tools inbuilt
  • Complex search feature
  • And any other little utilities you can imagine....
But it is highly disadvantageous. Reasons are:
  • No Linux or Mac support
  • Exorbitant price ($89 for all the things mentioned above)
  • Lite version available ($49) but crappier than MultiCommander, Double Commander and Unreal Commander (all three free!)

Worthy of mention

FreeCommander XE
  • Feature set is good
  • Tabbed browsing is better than others
  • Layout is awesome
  • Moderate resources consumption
  • Lacks support of content plugins, FTP client and file splitting features

CubicExplorer
  • Feature set is okay-ish
  • Looks are good
  • Bookmarks and quick-links access in side panel help save time at work
  • Tabbed browsing is better than others, and are almost double-sized (for the better!)
  • Lacks a lot of features like support of any TotalCommander plugins

Conclusion

MultiCommander is for system administrators.
SpeedCommander is made for power users like me who want to make the most out of time.
Those who want 4 panes, use Q-Dir.
Those concerned about Windows future and want to have a file manager with Linux or Mac support, go for Double Commander.
The choice is yours.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Microsoft self-destruct countdown begins!

Hello! This is real important (what I am telling you) considering the events that are taking place. Microsoft is nailing its own coffin with its own hands! Surprised? Let's see how. Microsoft has been always, from the very inception of it (the company), profit-minded. It is one top-performing company that almost never goes in recession and has always upped the ante for other companies to improve user experience and productivity together. For example, Windows with its product MS Office and Outlook (earlier Hotmail) has been doing well since inception, particularly because there was no cheaper and non-complicated alternative those days back.

This is what Microsoft does every time. They ditch their own products once the market share is in their hands. They like to be the puppetmaster and let others be their puppets (or puppies :) ).

Internet Explorer was also released so that Netscape in those days could not hold grip of the web browser market. Now it itself is doomed.

Nokia X has been sold nicely across the globe, and has attracted Google cloud users, only to become Microsoft service users for a long time. Now they are ditching it.

They ditched Windows XP, only to force millions of users to buy Windows 7 with attractive schemes to give their own Windows-powered PC at discounts.

Now they will ditch Windows 7 in 6 months (updates will still come), only to force users to buy copies of Windows 8.1.

See this table to get an overview of the support and status of its products:

Microsoft products status

Windows XP was recently completely shut down. Windows XP users all over the world cannot buy new and powerful hardware and so some of them are changing their mainstream OS to Linux because it is free and uses less powerful hardware, thus making their hardware more usable. They can use Oracle VirtualBox or Wine utility to run Windows applications, which sorts out the mess. Macs are still expensive and cannot be bought by everyone.

So learn how to install Linux and start using it for the better so that once Microsoft is doomed, you are safeguarded from the apocalypse. Use VirtualBox or Wine for Windows applications. Tell me how Microsoft is dooming itself using comments.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Microsoft and Internet Explorer: Blunders

Hello! I am very happy today because Filehippo is one of the few popular platforms to announce this: Internet Explorer is a big blunder. Yeah, everybody knows it and it can be proved at least in the cases of IE 6 or 7 or 8. But not IE 9 or IE 10 or IE 11. Check this out:

http://news.filehippo.com/2014/06/microsoft-hired-agency-to-pay-bloggers-to-write-fake-ie-reviews/

Internet Explorer has, is and always will be a blunder. Let's go back to the late 90's and get a brief insight of how Internet Explorer was born. There used to be this browser.. uh.. the Netscape Navigator (also known as the sea green coloured box with a white N).

old ie netscape icon

Netscape was an instant hit because there was no other browser in the market. Bill Gates with his slew of chiefs decided to ship Internet Explorer for free with its every copy of Windows. Netscape began incurring losses, and soon it went bankrupt. Internet Explorer was the undisputed king of web browsers. Mozilla was born at the Netscape headquarters in 1998 using the source code of Netscape, albeit with a few enhancements, what is now called the Firefox. This gave people choice and made the competition tough for IE. In around 2005, Q2, Mozilla engineers stopped developing Firefox and until now, is being developed by open source developers.

Why I am telling you this story is because Internet Explorer was, is and always has been a means to make money for Microsoft. Nothing else. Every time these fools release a new version of IE, hundreds of vulnerabilities come up. Then the patches. (LOL!) Such things never happen with Firefox or Chrome (though occasionally Chrome also fails to give security). So never ever try and realise that IE is a good browser. Microsoft only uses it as a means of money. Use Firefox (security) or Chrome (speed).


No IE, Yes Firefox

I am hoping for a nice debate on this, if you have read the full article.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Update: Firefox 33 Alpha 1

Hello! I have got you some sneaky peek into the latest nightly build of Mozilla Firefox, Nightly 33 Alpha 1. The newer browser is more optimised for performance, and the Chrome-like menu button is still there. The aesthetics of the interface are absolutely fine.

Nightly logo

The new feature, however, could be a breakthrough because it gives users the option to make voice calls via VoIP without the need for third-party apps or third-party dedicated software. The feature can be accessed by opening the Customize option from the menu button. You will get this.

Firefox customise call feature

Drag the caller icon aside the menu button and exit Customize tab. Click the caller button and you will get this.

Firefox make a call feature

Surprise! Probably you will need to enter the number of the person you want to talk and then get the URL for it to do so. There is also a Do Not Disturb option which probably means that either you will not get very flashy alerting by your browser to answer the call, or the person you want to talk to will not get disturbing flashy alerts.

I provide you the links from the directory of Mozilla to download the Windows, Mac, Linux and Android versions of this update here:

Windows: ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/try-builds/fred.wang@free.fr-0e915d5c078b/try-win32/firefox-33.0a1.en-US.win32.installer.exe

Mac: ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/try-builds/fred.wang@free.fr-0e915d5c078b/try-macosx64/firefox-33.0a1.en-US.mac.dmg

Linux: ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/try-builds/fred.wang@free.fr-0e915d5c078b/try-linux/firefox-33.0a1.en-US.linux-i686.tar.bz2

Android (without Mali GPU): ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/try-builds/fred.wang@free.fr-0e915d5c078b/try-android/fennec-33.0a1.en-US.android-arm.apk

Android (with Mali GPU): ftp://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/try-builds/fred.wang@free.fr-0e915d5c078b/try-android-armv6/fennec-33.0a1.en-US.android-arm-armv6.apk

See ya guys! And feel free to comment  or ask anything.