Seven Tools to Make Your PC Smile

Steve Bass's TechBiteYou 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

A few weeks ago I told you about Lexmark’s Toolbar for smarter printing. TechBite reader “Cal Tjader Lady” found something even smarter: PrintWhatYouLike, an online tool that lets you easily block out items on a Web page that you don’t want to print. It’s a neat idea, and it works most of the time. But if the page you’re printing requires JavaScript to be enabled, it might not work perfectly. Play around with the tool and lemme know what you think.

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.

— Dozens of people told me about Password Safe, a freebie you might want to try. My tech editor Carey Holzman just wrote and said he recommends LastPass.

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.

— I made the news. Check out InfoWorld’s When Paranoia isn’t Enough and cNET’s Are Passwords Our Best Security Option?

— 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.]


7 comments

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  1. Jonathan March 5, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    Thanks for mentioning PrintWhatYouLike.com! You’re correct- by default PrintWhatYouLike disables any javascript on the page you are modifying. If you must keep the javascript, there is a bookmarklet at http://www.printwhatyoulike.com/bookmarklet which integrates PrintWhatYouLike into your browser and does not disable javascript.

  2. Mars March 5, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    I use easy duplicate file cleaner to find and remove duplicate files my on computer! Thank you for the guys who developed this perfect tool. You know, now I can easily remove duplicate files on my computer!

  3. rogaine hair regrowth December 24, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    I appreciate your good work.thanks for sharing this helpful post.

  4. wildoc January 14, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    a very nice post and I could not agree more with you about removing duplicates. I have nearly 6 TB of disk space in five external disks and I am sure I have many duplicate files in them. So i ran a scan with the duplicate file cleaner. It is neat little software. It downloads fast, loads quickly and works without consuming too much computing resources. using this I was able to free up more than 500 GB of space from my three disks. Definitely worth trying.

  5. seeja January 15, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    A very nice post and you made me think on a interesting angle. i am sure I must be having a lot of duplicate files on my system. So i am going to try deleting the duplicate files. After some research I have narrowed down my choice to the following three software: duplicate file cleaner, clone spy and easy duplicate finder. Which one should I choose?

  6. sriram January 15, 2011 at 2:49 am #

    Amongst the three software you mentioned I think duplicate file cleaner and clonecleaner are very good. Both are fast, accurate and work almost equally well. Although the duplicate file cleaner has some more customizable features. The price is slightly lesser than the pro version of clone cleaner. Easy duplicate finder is a good free program but it is not as accurate as the other two. So if you don't mind paying about $25 then you may pick up the duplicate file cleaner

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