There are a handful of tools I use all the time
- Always check Ninite.com for free software first! The good people here provide cleaned up installs for a lot of common freeware. Browsers, Anti-Virus, lots of stuff.
- Handy tip: Keep your Ninite downloads because these also work to check for and install updates for your software 😉
- BitDefender Anti-Virus
- Good detection rates, works well, and in addition to free anti-virus, the paid "total security" is a good price for a full security suite if you need it.
- Lots of PC maintenance tools; disk cleanup for browsers and other junk, application un-installer for broken application cleanup, duplicate finder like when you have hoards of pictures and want to remove some dupes, secure file and disk erase...
- Pro version is a good price if you are using it and getting annoyed with free version because it has really frequent annoying updating
- Malware Bytes (see Ninite.com) if something does get on your PC and you need to clean it properly
- 7-zip (see Ninite.com) super utility for zip files
- Sumatra PDF (see Ninite.com) lightweight PDF viewer
- Notepad+, Paint.Net, ... did I mention check out Ninite.com?
Using the Web is fraught with inconsistencies and perils from sites that don't work in some browsers at all, hacked sites loaded with malware, and broad invasions of privacy. 😭
A solid go-to browser with lots of features like synchronising your bookmarks, reasonably secure password saving (I put everything but Banking type stuff in there), and generally works the best.
Another good browser, for me it's the "when nothing else works" try Firefox.
Browser Plugins and Extensions
Both Chrome and Firefox have lots of available plugins and extensions. Lots of junk but some gems.
- Ghostery blocks ads, pop-ups, tracking, so much stuff!
- Adblock Plus double-down on Ad Blocking
- Chrome History AutoDelete is a nice way to reign in how much is in your browser history once you start using Chrome or a browser which is synchronising your browser history with Google across many devices
Scripting and Development has really powerful free tools.
- VS Code from Microsoft is essential on Windows. Add extensions for Python, PowerShell, C#, Azure, Git, etc and it should be your go-to. Dante writes "All other IDE's, don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out."
- Windows Terminal is, well, I think it is the best. At the very least, stop using "cmd" and use PowerShell - but if you have WSL and other things too, this is a great app. Get it from the Microsoft Store.
- Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) is a Microsoft provided emulation for Linux so you can install Ubuntu and other operating systems right from the Microsoft Store. It is not the same as a virtual machine but beats the heck out of Cygwin.