View Full Version : The Queen of Free's USB Windows Repair Kit

Matera the Mad
08-15-2015, 05:54 AM
My old post must be somewhere in Database Limbo. Anyway, I had a request for this and it's better to have an up-to-date list.

This collection has been growing and evolving for a long time. As much as possible, when I use Windows, I will go for stuff that doesn't have to be installed. Also, I have found that some installed software is actually portable! Pick it up and drop it someplace else, and see if it runs. I prefer not to use the Portable Apps version if a program is natively portable. Less bloat, and I don't need the Portable Apps menu. Never liked it anyway. Portable Apps apps in this list are marked with a double asterisk**. No links included for them, you know where to go (http://portableapps.com/apps).

Quite a few of my favorite tools also come in a Linux version [wink wink]


General Useful Stuff:

Firefox** or Pale Moon with ad and flash blocking extensions, so I can research online and dl stuff without having to deal with IE or Chrome
Pale Moon portable download: http://www.palemoon.org/palemoon-portable.shtml

Free Commander, so I can dig into the filesystem and do stuff efficiently (except until the 64-bit version goes public it's a little handicapped). Any good, well-behaved portable file manager can save a lot of time over using Windows Exploder with typical default settings.

AkelPad - http://akelpad.sourceforge.net/en/index.php - terriffic plain text editor, portable, has its own updater. Lots of configs, plugins

Cherry Tree Notes - http://www.giuspen.com/cherrytree - Keep all sorts of info organized with or without password.

Easy 7-Zip - http://www.e7z.org/ - and I carry the installer too

IrfanView, because it's superbly portable and can open a zillion filetypes. http://www.irfanview.com/ - go to download page, find link to "other download sites" at the bottom, go to the bottom of that to find the no-install zip downloads.

Sumatra PDF - http://www.sumatrapdfreader.org/free-pdf-reader.html - because it does more than just PDF, and its portable.

WSCC - Windows System Control Center - http://www.kls-soft.com/wscc - Best way to update and keep track of Sysinternals and NirSoft suites, more tiny tools than you may ever need. You could get by with nothing else half the time if you have these. I worship Autoruns.



DTaskmanager - http://dimio.altervista.org/ - because it is inherently portable and when run as admin can kill almost any process (and shows more than Windows' tm).

Netstalker - http://sterjosoft.com/netstalker.html - sort of a mini-firewall watchdog. Nothing can get out without permission.



CPUZ - http://www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php - Everything you need to know about the hardware you're poking into.

LookInMyPC - http://www.lookinmypc.com/ - has a fancier interface

SIV - System Information Viewer - http://www.rh-software.com/ mega-info, I've known this one since waaaay back

Crystal Disk Info - http://crystalmark.info/ - gotta check hard drive health

MeinPlatz - http://www.softwareok.com/?Download=MeinPlatz - find drive-space-hogs. Check out other handy things at this site.


Cleaning, getting rid of:

DDU - Display driver uninstaller http://www.wagnardmobile.com/DDU/downloads.html - to clean up messy video card disasters prior to a clean install.

Geek Uninstaller - http://geekuninstaller.com/ - because it is a single, all-powerful file and very effective.

JRT - Junkware Removal Tool http://thisisudax.org/ - can wipe out hellish infestations of browser hijackers and other pestware with no interaction. Lovely, one little file with all that power.

Spybot Search&Destroy**

SUPERAntiSpyware - http://www.superantispyware.com/portablescannerhome.html

ClamWin** - portable AV is a must-have!

BleachBit - http://bleachbit.sourceforge.net/download/windows/ - Get rid of the temp garbage

Wise Registry Cleaner** - Because although registry cleaners are one of the least necessary tools, sometimes you do have to do it.


Internet Repair:

MiniToolBox - http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/minitoolbox/

Complete Internet Repair - http://www.rizonesoft.com


Hope you never need this but don't lose track of it:

De-CMOS - http://boginjr.com/it/sw/dev/de-cmos3/ - https://www.4shared.com/file/I2Jhgyc7/De-CMOS.html - Fix BIOS with no battery-pulling. Shweet. Sorry for horrible download link.


File Recovery:

Wise Data Recovery**

Recuva (free version) http://www.piriform.com/recuva

TestDisk - http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk_Download

MailView - http://www.mitec.cz/mailview.html - can get email out of several different formats if an email client has gone south. MiTec software rocks.


Installers. latest version, for:

Libre Office
Spybot Search&Destroy
Unchecky (helps prevent some, if not all, bundleware dumps)
Nitro PDF Reader
CCleaner and Bleachbit
...and a bunch of others, variable

The MVPS HOSTS file - http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.htm - Serious protection for the helpless


There is quite a bit more clutter in my portable arsenal, but these are the big guns and most used tools. If you can't boot Windows at all, you'll need a bootable stick or disk and an external drive or other safe place to back up files before letting Windows fix itself. The Linux Mint install disk runs live, and it's a comfortable environment for rescuing files. I once ran Slax from a disk for 3 days, burning backup CDs, after a weird small disaster in my own computer.

Keeping all this stuff updated is another reason I love Free Commander or any other dual-pane file manager with a file-sync directory compare feature. Once a week or so (ideally) I update my stick from a copy of the whole works on my hard drive, where the individual proggies can be updated as needed. I also carry a twin stick, in case of either potential infection or overzealous AV that zaps my poor little tools. Nir Sofer's password peepers are the most often seen as malware, and goodness knows you may need them when someone has forgotten a password. I have. Be sure you tell the AV to lay off your stick before you start!

Whew. Epic.

08-15-2015, 07:38 PM
Thanks very much for this exhaustive and epic list!

One side comment:

I think everybody, whether they need these tools or not, should visit http://dimio.altervista.org/
You owe it to yourself. feast your eyes! Wow. Just don't look too long...


Matera the Mad
08-15-2015, 10:41 PM
I know. I go there just to drool. XD

08-16-2015, 01:50 AM
This is a loverly and extensive list. Nice!

08-16-2015, 04:41 AM
Lots of interesting goodies :)

I do consider a good registry scrubber necessity; I've been using this excellent freebie for ~15 years now:


Most don't actually work. This one does. And I've hand-vetted what it wants to kill. One big reason my Windows installs remain stable for many years is because I use this, and beat my clients with a broomstick until they agree to run it religiously once a week. (The other big reason is regular defragging.)

Matera the Mad
08-16-2015, 11:56 AM
I did use that one many years ago. Had one horrible experience with it. Don't remember the details, just the horrible. I lost my appetite for that one. Nice kid, Toni, I was a real fan of his back then, but.... Nowadays if I'm doing my own Windows, or at work, I use Ccleaner. Registry cleaning is not a big deal for ordinary users, unless they suffer a shitstorm and have to clean up after. It is up to you what you like to use. I try different things a lot (one reason I use a registry cleaner LOL).

A friend of mine is stuck on Iolo's godawful System Mechanic, won't give it up because he paid for it. The free version of Ccleaner gets stuff it misses. Every time I'm in his computer, I need DTaskManager to killall the Iolocrap processes so I can get something done without a total freeze. But that's the kind of crud people fall for when they worry about cleanup speedup bla bla (a need mostly stimulated by ads and often caused by ads) and don't know about alternatives or understand the priorities.

08-16-2015, 06:06 PM
Probably missed something Toni has since added to his "blacklist" (entries to skip). I only use the registry cleaner part, tho have occasionally peered at the rest. In v1, the dupefiles finder would get stuck at a certain point (probably had a limit on number of dupes that I was exceeding). Otherwise, I have not seen any serious bugs in it.

I remember System Mechanic from way back when. Had a client who neglected to tell me they were using it, and had a version that only groks FAT16. Client applied it to their new FAT32 HD. It wasn't smart enough to check whether it was the filesystem that was bad or itself that didn't grok the filesystem (to be fair, back then nothing was that smart). Of course it promptly mangled the client's new HD. Fortunately for them, I still had their old sick HD with all their data. (This is why I don't immediately wipe old client HDs that I've hauled away, unless they insist. That dying HD may suddenly be called upon for an emergency restore, as this one was.)

If I were still in the business, I think the first thing I'd do while clubbing the client into submission is install NoScript and teach 'em how to use it. And a good HOSTS file. That will kill 99% of the risky garbage ads without using any sort of ad blocker, and what they never see, they can't be tempted to click on.

BTW, considering where Firefox has been going, you might want to consider PaleMoon or SeaMonkey instead.

08-17-2015, 12:51 AM
I appreciate the software listed in this thread for help with dealing with other people's computers, but one gem I have seized for myself is PaleMoon. I must admit to being just a little bit scared of it, though. I have it installed and have looked at it, but I have an instinctive (but maybe unwarranted) prejudice against third party browsers. I use other browsers all the time, just not as my primary window to the web.

Has it ever participated in one of those browser security shootouts?

Do you have any words of insight, background, or encouragement? I think I'll go see what extensions it has available.

08-17-2015, 01:15 AM
PaleMoon is just an optimized Firefox. I detest Firefox (normally I use SeaMonkey) but PaleMoon is slightly less irritating than Firefox as it hasn't succumbed to the New! Shiny!! interface, and wastes fewer system resources. So I use PaleMoon when some site insists on a newer shinier browser. I think I first used PaleMoon back at v2 (2009ish); it was still fairly new, but already less annoying than Firefox.

The only add-ons I install are PrefBar (http://prefbar.tuxfamily.org) and NoScript (http://noscript.net).

PaleMoon also hasn't jumped into the cesspools that Firefox has lately entered; see article below, and now I can't find the recent article about it, but the latest is following links in the background before you ever click on them (certainly a privacy hazard, and possibly a security hazard as well).


For some other browser suggestions, see the posts by "Hairyfeet" (whom I've known online for some years now).

ETA: Found it:


08-17-2015, 01:39 AM
browsers I use on a regular basis include midori firefox qupzilla dillo chromium and now, I think, palemoon. I'm using it now. I need to get noscript, and will check out prefbar. I just installed tab utilities, because I like my tabs on the right. I also like discovering new software. Thanks mtm. :)

Matera the Mad
08-17-2015, 12:44 PM
My Firefox use is minimal. Just a few frequent-use sites that I keep cookies for. Midori is my Dedicated Gmail Browser, and my Special Investigator in private mode. Opera is for Difficult Sites -- it can be amazing. Pale Moon is my runabout, my Duckmobile.

There is a difference, you know, between personal at-home (and house-call) use and recommendations for lusers who don't even know how to copy/paste or take a screenshot.

Matera the Mad
08-27-2015, 02:38 AM
I'm adding something new. Wifresti (http://www.kitploit.com/2015/08/wifresti-find-your-wireless-network.html) is a python script (and a compiled Windows executable) for wireless password recovery. Haven't run into a serious problem yet, but it never hurts to have the right tool if poo happens.

Matera the Mad
12-05-2015, 07:49 AM
If you want to avoid some of the work of building and maintaining a tool collection, there is Win-UFO (http://win-ufo.org), a ready-made compilation packaged in an installer. It has almost everything you can think of; in fact, most of what I usually include. Installs on a USB stick, taking a bit less than 1GB of space. If copied to a disk, it can be run without fear of attacks by over-zealous antivirus.

Matera the Mad
05-10-2016, 10:55 AM
I have been told that there is a fix-it stick advertised on TV. I do not allow the Eivil Grandmother in my house, so I have not viewed this shit. Doesn't matter. DO NOT buy it. Anything that is advertised is evil. If you click this shit you will undoubtedly be innfested with a shitload of stupid.

05-10-2016, 05:29 PM
Reminder that as SSD's become more common, defrag becomes less important. The actual hard drive structure is buried under a firmware layer of abstraction. A defrag utility might think it's saving to consecutive locations when, in fact, it is not. And with the random-access nature of SSD's, it's not that important anyway.

This is also a bit of a complication when disposing of a drive that's SSD. Unless you do a full-drive wipe, you cannot use a file eraser.

Matera the Mad
08-02-2016, 05:28 AM
I've been having a discussion with a Win7 laptop about Windows Update which has turned into an epic saga. This lappy was handed over to the non-profit I work for in a sad state; ancient inactive AV, no firewall active, Office installed but not activated. But worst of all, no updates installed, and Windwoes Updater incapable of connecting to any updates! I wasted a lot of time trying to repair the update service, did things that should have worked several times over. No wupdates.

Finally, I gave up in disgust and downloaded the well-respected Windows Updates Downloader (http://www.windowsupdatesdownloader.com/). It snagged a few years' worth of Microslop in minutes. Then, lazy thing that I am, I Ducked around until I found a batchfile of pure gold (http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/2018.how-to-install-multiple-windows-updates-andor-hotfixes-in-a-time.aspx) to install them in bunches. The one I used is in the comments down by the bottom, posted by "brdavis" (apparently having a Bad Internet Day, because it's triple-posted!).

It's not as easy as the way it's supposed to be, but when Windwoes has broken bits, you have to do what you can. I feared to re-install because Dell offers too little driver support for this 8-year-old laptop. Y'all know what I'd do if it was mine :ROFL: Anyway, I figured I should post such useful things here, since update failure is not as rare as it should be.