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Topic Starter Topic: Computer Software you might not use but probably should

Timed Out
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Joined: 02 Aug 2000
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PostPosted: 05-05-2007 05:20 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


ITT, cool free shit that deserves to be part of everyone's software lineup:

VMWare
VMWare is a company that produces virtualisation software in use both on desktops and server environments. Despite the 'enterpriseyness' of what they do, they have free versions of both VMWare Player and VMWare server available for download on their site.

Virtualising an operating system basically entails having a 'fake' PC running inside your PC, on which you install another OS such as a Linux distro, or another copy of XP, or even a windows server. That virtual PC is then totally self-contained and can be turned off and on at will without interacting with your 'real' operating system that's actually running on your PC.

This is useful for:
- Playing around with new linux distros and livecds without needing to reboot
- Running a second copy of XP to test software installations on
- Running old OSes to play legacy dos-mode games
- Running a web server or other web-connected service with minimal risk.
- Uh, porn.

MS Virtual PC
Nearly identical in every way to VMWare Server. Slightly better in general with Windows OSes. Free and doesn't require the extra 5 mins of work to get a free license key like the VMWare products do.

TrueCrypt
File encryption software for windows. Highly polished and powerful but a cinch to use. Allows you to set up a 'container' file which you access with a password and it becomes a drive in My Computer. You can then treat it as any other drive and move documents across to it. When you're done, you 'dismount' the file and it's inaccessible without the password.

The overhead of accessing an encrypted volume isn't particularly large (haven't benchmarked it, but it feels smooth), and it's entirely feasible to encrypt huge volumes of data i.e. your entire ripped movie collection would be no problem and access would be just as fast.

The program will let you encrypt an entire hard drive but not your primary boot drive (so you can't fully encrypt your whole OS). However in conjunction with the virtualisation tools above, you can encrypt a virtual PC in a container. So same thing.

This is useful for:
- Online banking and storage of account information.
- Storage of any sensitive information, documents or files you care to think of. Maybe you'd like to keep your music collection secure?
- Uh, porn again.


Imma post more later. Fingers are tired.




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Timed Out
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PostPosted: 05-05-2007 05:29 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Altiris SVS
Altiris Software Virtualisation Solution is a means of encapsulating an entire piece of software in a single package file, including any data created or changed using the software.

A piece of software complete with its data and settings can be easily moved between systems and brought online in the exact same state on each machine. Consider for example if you chat online using your desktop and laptop PCs... with SVS you can sync the whole thing with a single file and your chat history, contacts list and other settings will all be preserved in the package.

This also makes backups freaking easy as its merely a case of dumping the .vsa file for each program onto a backup CD or such. Reformatting is a doddle because you bring the packages back online and all your configuration is right where you left it. This is particularly useful for me for Firefox and Winamp. Saves me re-applying my search engines, addons and media library stuff.

There's even premade starter packages on http://svsdownloads.com/




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The voices in your head
The voices in your head
Joined: 14 Dec 2002
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PostPosted: 05-05-2007 05:34 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Stickied.




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Timed Out
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PostPosted: 05-05-2007 05:47 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Thanks Torm!

Alcohol 52%
This is a tool for managing ISO files, which are physical CDs encapsulated in a single file. The program allows you to turn a CD into an ISO, and 'mount' an ISO in a virtual CD Drive to use it as if the CD was connected to the computer.

This is useful for:
- Running your games without having to faff about swapping CDs in and out all the time
- Backing up CDs to a DVD as data files (can get up to 12 CDs on a dual-layer DVD)
- Capturing CDs for use on virtual machines (see above posts) to avoid the aforementioned CD-Swapping
- Mounting CDs and DVDs using the iSCSI server feature to access CDs across your network.

The last entry was particularly useful when I was configuring my new laptop, which has no CD drive. After installing Windows from a USB drive I was able to mount discs via the network and install directly from them without a hitch.

Nowadays with hard drives being so cheap and there being such a huge back-catalog of quality games, keeping a library of ISOs has moved beyond hardcore nerding and is now a really convenient method of access data without needing to swap CDs.




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I'm the dude!
I'm the dude!
Joined: 04 Feb 2002
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PostPosted: 05-05-2007 05:52 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


I'll contribute a few if I may...

UltraVNC
Virtual Network Computing application that allows you create a virtual KVM over a network. Runs much better than Windows Remote Assistance and works across with Windows, Linux (and I think Mac) computers.

Hamachi
Zero-configuration Virtual Private Networking client that creates a virtual LAN between computers. Great for sharing files or collaborating with others or with a server between computers in different locations.

Notepad++ or Textpad
Windows Notepad is a little out of date but we like it because it's "light". Notepad++ is free and Textpad is a cheap replacement for Notepad that adds a lot of extra features, yet remains "light" good for those of you who need to do a lot of scripting, light programming or web design. I prefer Textpad though it's not free and don't know what I would do without it.

Beyond Compare
Sadly not free, but for $30 it's well worth it. Beyond Compare compares the contents of directories or text files for differences in content, date, etc. Great when it comes time for backups or when comparing different versions of the same file or directory to determine the latest revisions. You can add scripting features to compare files on a normal basis and do backups of the latest versions to something like and external HD.



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I'm the dude!
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PostPosted: 05-05-2007 05:53 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Alcohol 52%? Don't you mean 120%



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Timed Out
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PostPosted: 05-05-2007 06:07 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


obsidian wrote:
Alcohol 52%? Don't you mean 120%


Nah 52%, which is essentially the same at 120% but without the CD Burning bits. Only 52% has a free version, though lately they've been adding IE toolbars to the package, might warrant using an older version or checking out the status of these bundle bits in case they're detrimental.

Pidgin
Rebranded GAIM instant messaging client. Now at Pidgin v2.0.0 with a very stable, slick means of accessing all your different chat accounts via a single client. My only criticism is lack of VOIP support for skype/google talk, hopefully this will come soon. But for now I can use MSN, Yahoo and ICQ with no issues.

IM Clients are always a bit political. Before multi-protocol clients people would argue about the best chat protocol i.e. MSN vs ICQ vs Yahoo vs AIM. Now that there are clients out there that can handle them all its become a case of arguing over which one. Pick any one of:
GAIM (Pidgin)
Miranda IM
Trillian

And for anyone who's taken heed of the Altiris SVS blurb above and wants to try it out, here's a VSA I just created (using VMWare Server!) for loading Pidgin via SVS:
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=X5O3BFSK




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It felt good...
It felt good...
Joined: 28 Mar 2001
Posts: 9558
PostPosted: 05-06-2007 08:16 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


You can also use Altiris Juice to run all your (or at least most of your apps) in a sandbox mode where nothing touches your computer outside of the sandbox. Registry, etc. settings do not get bogged into your physical registry. Pretty kewl shit. (Virtualization for those that are not up in the know)

http://www2.altiris.com/juice/svs/

It can essentially run your entire computer in a state of "fresh format" for ever (as long as you keep running your apps through it).




Last edited by dzjepp on 05-06-2007 08:21 PM, edited 1 time in total.

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It felt good...
It felt good...
Joined: 28 Mar 2001
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PostPosted: 05-06-2007 08:17 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


I'm gonna have to seriously start using their svs solutions. Fucking sweet at how much time you can save when reformatting. :ups:




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It felt good...
It felt good...
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PostPosted: 05-06-2007 08:18 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Sandboxie is another solution for running your apps in a virtual state.

http://www.sandboxie.com/

Foo sorry for not following your formatting method, but I will fix it up a bit later. :D




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It felt good...
It felt good...
Joined: 28 Mar 2001
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PostPosted: 05-06-2007 08:28 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


It would be interesting to see if anyone has full experience with running all or most of their everyday apps in sandbox mode. Alas so far I haven't had the time or want to use it beyond trying it with Firefox. I wonder if there are any cons in doing this or if they would outweigh the positives.

My mobo has an option to enable virtualization and so far I haven't bothered to do it (it's a feature on new intel core processors I believe). It does mention that it recommends against enabling the feature unless you are using it for specific vm purposes.




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!Berserker!
!Berserker!
Joined: 22 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: 05-07-2007 08:57 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


I use Daemon Tools to mount ISO's and such.




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It felt good...
It felt good...
Joined: 28 Mar 2001
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PostPosted: 05-07-2007 02:37 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


UPX (The Ultimate Packer for eXecutables)
UPX is a free, portable, extendable, high-performance executable packer for several different executable formats. It achieves an excellent compression ratio and offers very fast decompression. Your executables suffer no memory overhead or other drawbacks because of in-place decompression.

http://upx.sourceforge.net/

You can compress all your exes wth this and save a lot of space, the on-the-fly decompressing is very fast.

If you'd prefer a GUI instead of command line to play around with UPX, try this http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail/Alpx/1110410043/1




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It felt good...
It felt good...
Joined: 28 Mar 2001
Posts: 9558
PostPosted: 05-09-2007 01:05 PM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


RightMark CPU Clock Utility
RightMark CPU Clock Utility (RMClock) is a small GUI application designed for real-time CPU frequency, throttling and load level monitoring and on-the-fly adjustment of the CPU performance level on supported CPU models via processor's power management model-specific registers (MSRs). In automatic management mode it continuously monitors the CPU usage level and dynamically adjusts the CPU frequency, throttle and/or voltage level as needed, realizing the "Performance on Demand" concept.

http://cpu.rightmark.org/

Save some e-bills when you leave your putter on idling overnight (aka downloading) instead of hunting for the borg.




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god xor reason
god xor reason
Joined: 08 Dec 1999
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PostPosted: 05-10-2007 07:00 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Filezilla
The best FTP client I've encountered and best of all it's free!
http://filezilla.sourceforge.net/

WinMerge
An excellent tool for comparing/combining several directories or documents.
http://winmerge.org/




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Elite
Elite
Joined: 04 Jun 2000
Posts: 4672
PostPosted: 05-23-2007 04:22 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Launchy - http://www.launchy.net
Alt+Spacebar will open anything on your system.

Eraser - http://www.tolvanen.com/eraser
Instead of just killing files with Shift+Del, this works in a way that it kills the files, douses them in kerosene, burns them to a crisp and dumps their ashes into a strong current which transports it to all parts of the globe, removing all traces or memory of it.

KeePass Password Safe - http://keepass.info
KeePass is a portable password management utility, passwords are stored in highly-encrypted databases. For anyone with more than 6 different passwords, KeePass is indispensable.




Last edited by Cooldown on 05-30-2007 07:31 PM, edited 2 times in total.

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Timed Out
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PostPosted: 05-26-2007 10:58 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


dzjepp wrote:
It would be interesting to see if anyone has full experience with running all or most of their everyday apps in sandbox mode. Alas so far I haven't had the time or want to use it beyond trying it with Firefox. I wonder if there are any cons in doing this or if they would outweigh the positives.


Well I've been doing this with a few applications for about 2 months now and the system works OK. I wouldn't recommend it for games or any other use where performance is critical, as it adds some lag to file loads and stuff.

I've had a few crash issues too, and creating your own VSA for anything more than a really simple program can take a lot of time. It's rarely a case of capture, export, finish. Usually you have to analyse the file lists and tweak things.

Having said that, in conjunction with a good drive imaging program this is a pretty powerful method of keeping your system fresh, as being able to totally export a program and its settings in a few clicks is more convenient that manually backing up settings for various apps.




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.
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PostPosted: 05-26-2007 01:36 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Keep this thread sticky.




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Timed Out
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PostPosted: 06-02-2007 09:03 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


CCleaner
Utility for erasing internet history, plus all kinds of history information, temp files, and other detritus from tons of different applications. Can be customised to wipe set locations automatically, and can do secure file deletions.

Handy for quickly cleaning out all browsing history if someone else wants to jump on your computer quickly. Also does some general housecleaning stuff that's good for periodic maintenance.




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.
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PostPosted: 06-13-2007 12:55 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Do you think a tutorial could be written on how to use TrueCrypt with MS Virtual PC?




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Elite
Elite
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PostPosted: 06-16-2007 09:54 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


This thread is a very <3 kind tribute to the time-robbed members of this place. :up:




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Timed Out
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PostPosted: 06-17-2007 03:04 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Massive Quasars wrote:
Do you think a tutorial could be written on how to use TrueCrypt with MS Virtual PC?


I could if you need it doing but essentially its just the following:
*Create a truecrypt archive that's at least a few gigs in size.
*Mount the volume to a drive letter e.g. Z:\
*Create a new virtual PC and virtual hard drive. Install windows.
*Close the VPC session and copy the virtual PC's container files (in \documents\My Virtual Machines\) into the mounted container
* Run the VPC session file you just copied from the Z:\ drive

You'll then be running a virtual machine which is encapsulated in an encrypted volume. When you close the VPC and dismount the volume, everything in that session is fully encrypted and hidden, and can be permanently removed by erasing that one truecrypt container file.




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.
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PostPosted: 06-17-2007 07:33 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


That should probably do, thank you.




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axbaby
axbaby
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PostPosted: 08-07-2007 11:44 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


jv16powertools http://www.jv16.org

keeps your registry in tip top shape , removes hidden un-wanted software , finds duplicate files , tons more features.

free to use for a month



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I'm the dude!
I'm the dude!
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PostPosted: 08-08-2007 05:47 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Just reinstalled Windows after a wipe and am currently installing software again, so I thought I'd add a bit more to the list...

TweakUI
Microsoft Power Tool gives you access to system settings that are not exposed in the Windows XP default user interface, including mouse settings, Explorer settings, taskbar settings, and more. I have no idea why these features aren't actually built into Windows XP's interface with a service pack. There are also a few other powertoys from MS with limited usefulness.

UltraMon and MultiMon Taskbar
Useful tools for multiple monitor setups, creates monitor specific taskbars among many other things. UltraMon is the much more powerful of the two but comes with a price tag. MultiMon is free.

IrfanView
Previews photos and collection of photos. More useful and versatile than basic Windows photo viewer.

Here's a list of software I use to encode, volume level and tag MP3's:

LAME and EAC
LAME is a command line MP3 encoder and EAC is a frontline GUI interface utilizing LAME's encoder. The two together creates high quality VBR MP3's from your CD collection.

FooBar 2000 (Volume Leveling)
You can use something like MP3Gain to volume level your collection, but it is semi-destructive. Or you can use FooBar 2000's built in volume leveling which uses the non-destructive ReplayGain standard. With a little tinkering you can even convert ReplayGain to iTunes Sound Check leveling, or just use FooBar as your default music player.

MP3Tag
Tags your MP3's including cover art, and any other custom tags.




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axbaby
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PostPosted: 08-15-2007 06:06 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


sticky??



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I'm the dude!
I'm the dude!
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PostPosted: 08-15-2007 06:44 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


It already is.




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Black Magic
Black Magic
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PostPosted: 08-17-2007 09:19 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Vista Manager
just tripped over this the other day when i was trying to change a file association icon (and realized for some bonkers reason microsoft decided to remove said feature that has been in every windows prior). anyway, its like "power toys" for vista.

Trial download for free, however the changes are not reverted by the trial-period. so you can use it to tweak what you want and then uninstall it.




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*wank*
*wank*
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PostPosted: 08-21-2007 04:31 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Flashget

The best freaking downloader manager ever.

http://www.flashget.com/en/download.htm




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Shambolic
Shambolic
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PostPosted: 08-22-2007 03:17 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


I'm a massive fan of 7zip, compression software that can access all your favourite archive file formats, integrates with the shell nicely on XP and Vista, includes it's own new .7z archive format and best of all, is open source and free, so no more annoying "Please register WinRAR / WinZip" messages.




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Timed Out
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PostPosted: 08-22-2007 03:49 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


7zip is indeed the bomb. There's 0 reasons to go with winzip or winrar now.




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Black Magic
Black Magic
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PostPosted: 08-22-2007 04:08 AM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


i thought everyone already used 7zip. its one of those utilities thats so good you just want to throw money at the author. should be the new defacto standard for archiving.




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The voices in your head
The voices in your head
Joined: 14 Dec 2002
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PostPosted: 08-22-2007 07:27 AM           Profile   Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Dr_Watson wrote:
i thought everyone already used 7zip. its one of those utilities thats so good you just want to throw money at the author. should be the new defacto standard for archiving.


I hadn't even heard of it until now but its currently downloading.




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I nose it!
I nose it!
Joined: 28 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: 08-23-2007 01:52 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


obsidian wrote:
FooBar 2000


I always thought that was the place to go where foo was handing out free beers. :D

I'll add to the list if I may. Comodo firewall. Free, very configurable and highly secure. A bit fussy but once you get used to it and get it set up right, it's really good. Also, their forum is very good for free support, and they're always polite and friendly.

http://www.personalfirewall.comodo.com/




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Pestilence
Pestilence
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PostPosted: 08-31-2007 06:12 PM           Profile Send private message  E-mail  Edit post Reply with quote


Foo wrote:
7zip is indeed the bomb. There's 0 reasons to go with winzip or winrar now.


I don't mean to clutter up the thread, but I've had 0 problems with winrar. Does everything I need it to. Other than it's own format, what would I need to use it for?




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