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.