Recommended Software for Windows Computers

Over the years I have used many applications for different needs.  This list might help you if you have a particular need, and save you the trouble of downloading and testing a variety of tools which might not suit your needs.  Links are not included due to sites frequently changing the path to these downloads. 

Whenever you are searching and downloading software make sure you are getting what you expect.  Many times, download links to the files you are after are slightly hidden; they might be further down the page, or in plain text versus a graphic button of some kind.  The big DOWNLOAD button might actually be referring to a product being advertised on the page which isn't the files you are after.  Be cautious.  I highly recommend searching for your files via Google and using WOT (Web of Trust) to help verify the safety of the site (no site can be 100% safe, 100% of the time).

Purpose Software Title Description
Safe Web Browsing WOT (Web of Trust) WOT is a free service which connects you with thousands of other WOT users who rate the safety of web sites on the internet.  Since user behavior is the leading cause of infections, WOT provides a great way to clearly identify a malicious website before you click on it.  Additionally, I recommend Google for your searching since WOT works so well with it.
New Computer Software Install Ninite Ninite is a small package manager which you can see on their website.  Simply pick the apps you want to install and download a file which will install them all, potentially saving you hours of tedious downloads and installs.
System cleanup CCleaner Free & Fast. Includes a program uninstaller and a registry cleanup tool which is almost guaranteed to increase PC speed by 50% on just about any computer that a user complains of slow performance. Cleans your Apple Mac too!  Speaking of Mac you could also try AppCleaner from FreeMac Soft.
Picture Viewer Irfanview Free & Fast. All the tools you need for quick edits of photos. Been using this for probably 12 years now and the fact that the UI has remained unchanged is a great bonus.
Antivirus Microsoft Essentials Free & Fast. Effective antivirus without all the bloat, subscriptions or low performance. Certainly not the best; it's known to miss things like just about everything else out there. Strikes a perfect balance between effectiveness and performance.
Remote Support for friends/family LogMeIn I enjoy using this because it's free and so easy to set up and use. Quirky with clipboard though.
Hard Disk Checkup Passmark DiskCheckup Free for personal use, this tool will monitor your computer's hard drive for hardware problems and possibly alert you before a failure.  Even for small businesses with critical hard drive needs, the price of this software is a good value proposition.
Remote Support for local network RealVNC Preferred for LAN/low-security use. Remote Desktop or LogMeIn still preferable for internet desktop sharing due to extra security.
Archive Files 7Zip Opens just about everything under the sun, it's free and fast.
Print-To-PDF CutePDF Good program; quick and clean. Low incidence of bundled crapware, but still must remain diligent.
Workstation Documentation & Help Desk Tool Gritware's Mouse Tracks Works great with XP & older computers. Needs a little TLC to work with Vista/7 but it will work. Excellent hardware & software detection. Helpdesk feature is good too. Great for managing your inventory of licensed software. There is a free version which supports a limited number of workstations.
Windows Crash Analysis WhoCrashed This little free-for-home-use tool will quickly give you a direction to attempt troubleshooting when faced with an obscure bluescreen.
Network Packet Analysis Wireshark Been using this little gem for over 8 years. It does take a little sorcery to make the info work for you, and if you don't know much about networking beyond just IP, DNS, DHCP you could get a little lost. Newer versions are getting friendlier though. Free of course.
CD Ripper CDex Creates .wav files from your audio CD's which you can then change to MP3's with...
MP3 Creator Lame Creates MP3 files from .wav files. Command-line tool with many options for bitrate, batch processing, etc.. Not very friendly but if you can spend the time to tweak it; you will find it to be a powerful tool.
Media Viewer VLAN Not the greatest tool for music but a solid choice for video.  Supports Windows formats as well as Mac
Media Viewer (Listener??) Winamp I always used to use this for my MP3's, but also has a robust video interface.  Still has a free version and I find the database of media it creates unmatched.
Malware Removal MalwareBytes Free app with a paid alternative for active scanning (not really needed if you go with MSE above). This does well for just about everything but rootkits. It's a great first go-to when getting after an infection.
Malware Removal SuperAntiSpyware Free to try and disinfect. I recently found this when trying to get rid of some stubborn rootkit. This was a very effective tool and I highly recommend it if MalwareBytes can't take on your infection.
Malware Detection/Investigation SysInternals Suite Free! More than once I have used this tool exclusively to clean malware infections. While it is more tedious then the two Malware tools above, it gives you an unmatched view of the internal workings of your operating system. It is also quite effective as a hardware and software troubleshooter outside of the security realm. Being able to break down program interactions by the split-second is incredibly helpful.
Connect Linux to Active Directory PowerBroker Identity Services, Open Edition Free but there is a registration.  I learned about this from Tech Republic and while I haven't checked it out personally; others had and likewise recommended it.  I look forward to giving it a try!
Mac Application Bandwidth Private Eye Free utility to monitor the amount of bandwidth your apps are using.
Documenting Networks CADE, QCAD or LibreCAD Free offerings that have libraries of network objects to create network maps and diagrams.