You have an insatiable need for free tools, I know, and there’s no reason to deprive you. I have seven gems for you, and all but one are freebies. Plus I have a quick follow-up about passwords and security.
Dump the Dupes
You think you might have a couple of duplicate files on your system? (Don’t be silly — of course you do.) Easy Duplicate File Finder (see image) is a handy freebie that will dig around and show you where they’re lurking. I like being able to choose specific folders, use a mask to find only certain files, and either rename or move dupes.
Be careful: Deleting the wrong file is risky. Here’s are a few rules from Bass International Labs because I don’t want to hear, “Hey Bass, I ran that duplicate finder and deleted a lot of stuff, and that’s great, but now my machine won’t boot. Why didn’t you tell me to backup my system first?
- No program has the decision-making skills to determine what’s safe to delete or not. Make that decision based on your knowledge and experience. If you’re in doubt, don’t delete the file.
- If one of the two duplicate files is located in the Windows folder or its subfolders, leave it alone. Really.
- If you try deleting a file and see “Cannot read from the source file or disk,” it’s because the file’s being used by a program. Leave it alone.
Duplicate File Tip: I’m too impatient to wade through 50,000 duplicate files, so I look for the monsters, those over-30MB hard drive wasters. There’s a good chance they’re long-forgotten duplicate videos.
The Bane of MP3 Duplicates
At last count, I counted 3 million MP3s on my PC, many from the Napster days, and I just know half are dupes. Easy Duplicate File Finder spots the exact duplicates based on file size, but that’s not good enough for me. The best tool — and I mean the very best–is Audio Comparer. (See image.) It listens to MP3, WMA, and OGG files, finds dupes, and actually shows you the percentage of duplication. It’s $30, but if you have scads of MP3s, and the moolah, this puppy’s a perfect tool. Grab a trial that does everything–except let you move or delete files.
Nifty Selective Web Printing Tool
Zap Jammed Print Jobs
You say you used PrintWhatYouLike and now have a stack of jobs stuck in the print queue? It occasionally happens to me and I don’t know why — probably just to be annoying. When it does, I whip out the Stalled Printer Repair tool. Sure I could clear out the print queue myself; the program’s just going to the Spool folder and deleting the wedged files–but it’s so handy and satisfying to use. I can’t wait for my next stalled print job.
Follow-up: Passwords and Paranoia
Last week you heard my horror story about how someone got hold of my PayPal password. Here’s some follow-up from TechBite subscribers.
— I’ve been wondering if the PayPal breach was an inside job. A buddy of mine wrote: “I had the same experience with PayPal last May. They refunded my money so quickly, that I am somewhat suspicious that they are trying to cover up an internal problem of some sort. Do you get the same feeling, or do you think YOU screwed up?” -JK
Well, I’m so scrupulously scrupulous when watching out for spoofing, it ain’t funny. I don’t think I was phished or spoofed. But how do you prove that it’s an inside job…?
— Tom C. railed against sites that wouldn’t let him use a long password, or symbols, or differentiate between upper- and lowercase characters. I try to avoid doing business with sites too loopy to let me have a strong password.
— CloakPass is a smart, free utility that resides in your System tray and automatically transforms your easy-to-remember password into a difficult-to-hack one. So for example I type stevebass and CloakPass changes it to Zf12#$6KYb8, the real password. I tried the free version (get it here); paid versions provide extra features, such as @#%* symbols. Read the CloakPass Getting Started page and FAQ to get a better idea how the program works.
— If you don’t want any of your passwords stored on your PC, and won’t resort to a paper list, try the Logio Secure Password Organizer. For $30 you can store and retrieve all your passwords; it’s super secure because it doesn’t connect to your PC. Be aware, though, that it takes some time to enter data using the multi-tap character input method.
— Michael M. said that he clicked on the Microsoft’s Password Checker link in last week’s story, “which really did look exactly like Microsoft’s website.” He tried his online banking password and the site said his password was very strong. “Ten minutes later,” he said, “when I checked my bank balance, it was ZERO.”
True, Michael, because the Microsoft link was a spoof I created–and I picked up about 200 fresh passwords I’ll be trying shortly… [kidding and ducking]
[This post is excerpted from Steve’s TechBite newsletter. If you liked it, head here to sign up–it’s delivered on Wednesdays to your inbox, and it’s free.]