Category Archives: Portable Applications

PrivaZer – An In-depth Free PC Cleaner and Privacy App

imagePrivaZer is an extremely powerful cleaning tool and as such, it is not a tool that you need to use on a daily basis. If CCleaner is your daily system optimization, privacy, and cleanup tool, stay with it – it’s  the granddaddy of all system cleaners with good reason. In my view CCleaner is as close to perfect at its assigned task, as a free program can be.

However, if you have a need to get deeper into your system – then PrivaZer (recommended by super user and regular reader Chris A.), is a free application which has been designed to do just that. The “fast facts” listed below will give you a good overall view of  PrivaZer’s capabilities.

PrivaZer, like many recently released privacy tools, should not be run without the user taking time to fully understand the power inherent in this application. Further on in this review, you’ll find a number of suggestions for getting you up to speed quickly.

During the installation process, shown below, you will have an opportunity to choose various installs.

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An additional choice you will have is – selecting (or not), to install context menu commands.

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I’ll jump ahead here for illustrative purposes. For this test, I selected the context menu install which I’ve shown in the following screen capture. Note, this screen shot shows only one of  the four context menus – “For drives, Storage”.

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Prior to the first run (as shown below), the developer has designed the interface so that less experienced users can choose to be guided by a series of recommended actions.

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One such recommended action (subject to user input), is shown below.

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Once I had made the choices appropriate for my needs (including cleaning any traces in the free space on the Hard Drive) ……..

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… the application allowed me the option to continue as planned, or to back out of individual choices. As well, as illustrated below, selecting any specific action will bring up a menu which provides additional information.

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For this test, I went “whole hog” which included cleaning up the drive’s free space. The complete task (analyzing the system and cleanup), ran roughly 30 minutes. The developer makes the point, that future cleanup tasks will run much faster.

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Fast facts:

With simply one click, PrivaZer is able to clean securely

Internet browsers

Index.dat

Cookies

Cookies Tor

Cookies Flash

Cookies Silverlight

DOM Storage

IndexedDB

AppCache

Registry

RAM

Pagefile.sys and Hiberfil.sys files

Use of software

Messengers

Histories of visited websites, viewed videos, use of software, opened docs, etc

Jumplists

Recycle bin

Temp files

Log files

Invalid Prefetch entries

Indexing service

ThumbCaches, Thumbs.db

Residual traces of deleted files

Free space

File table (MFT or FAT)

INDEX attributes in MFT

USN Journal, etc

The developer provides a short video which illustrates the basic functions of PrivaZer. I highly recommend that you take the two and a half minutes to view the video. Click on the graphic below to go to the developer’s home page.

While there, I suggest that you scout around the page for additional information on this super application.

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System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 – 32 bit & 64 bit (tested on Win 8 32 bit).

Download at: Developer’s site.

A complete User’s Guide is available here in PDF format. I highly recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity.

This application offers a straightforward interface, a ton of options, and it’s free – but, it should only be run by experienced users who have a good grasp of system operations.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Cleaning Your Computer, downloads, Freeware, Portable Applications, Privacy, System Utilities

Free ImgBurn – Is It One Step Ahead Of CDBurnerXP?

imageA recent review of the freebie CD/DVD burning application – CDBurnerXP – led a number of readers to offer their views on burner applications. A particular free favorite amongst readers, and one I’ve run with on and off over the years is – ImgBurn.

Since there’s no better time like the present, and driven by curiosity as to why readers found ImgBurn so compelling – I revisited this application and ran with it for several days. Glad I did.

I’ll jump ahead here – directly to my conclusion. ImgBurn is a superior CD/DVD burning application. No hesitation – this application ROCKS.

The following screen capture illustrates the wide range of application settings available. For those of us who are conversant with all of the ins and outs, this is very advantageous. An average user might well skip by these selections. Still, the options are there and, jumping into the Settings menu offers a terrific learning opportunity for those who are interested .

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Ez Mode Picker GUI shown. As you can see, I’ve chosen to write an image file to disc. Writing image files to DVD, is the most common use I have for burner software.

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Since I’m burning to a rewritable disc – ImgBurn has given me a “just in time” warning – saving me from what could have been a critical error – overwriting valuable data. It’s not likely that I would have saved important data on a DVD+RW but, that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t happen.

So, the warning popup as shown in the following screen capture – is absolutely necessary, in my view.

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Given the go ahead, the application got right down to work – erased the disc; burned the ISO image; and verified the data. Total time to completion – 4 minutes 18 seconds (586 MB).

I do agree with regular reader Muncher W., that we could do without the blast of celebratory music.   Smile

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In a comparable test (in conjunction with this review test), running CDBurnerXP, which I reviewed several days ago, that application, including a manual erasure of the disc’s contents (* more on that in a moment), took 4 minutes and 10 seconds. An inconsequently  time difference.

* If you are using a DVD-RW (as I did for these tests) which already contains data – CDBurnerXP will not warn you that you are about to overwrite that data. Bad! Very Bad!

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As an expert user, I make it a practice to always read a rewritable disc before using that disc on a new job but, an average user might easily be burned (no pun intended), if that simple step is not followed. Better, I think, that a burner application should shout out a warning.

While CDBurnerXP, with its simple straightforward GUI and limited choices, is a very fine application for those who are relatively new to CD/DVD burning – the lack of a warning has the potential to cause havoc.

The chances may be slim – but, they are real, nevertheless.

The usual offer on installation. As always – caution is the byword.

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System requirements: Windows XP, Vista and Win 7.

Download at: ImgBurn

A portable version is available at: The Portable Freeware Collection.

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Filed under CD/DVD Tools, downloads, Freeware, Portable Applications, Software

Have A Need To Burn CD/DVDs? – Checkout Free CDBurnerXP 4.4.0

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The predictions are  – CDs and DVDs, as storage media, are on the way out. It seems a reasonable prediction given the  availability, and cost effectiveness, of both large capacity USB Flash Drives and large capacity USB portable Hard Drives. We’ve come a long way from the days when I bought my first USB stick – with its tiny 128 MB capacity (huge, in its day) – to today’s mega monsters.

It’s hardly surprising then, that CD/DVD costs have taken a dramatic tumble. I recently came across an offer at a local “excess inventory” outlet, which makes that point eloquently – 100 Memorex DVDs for $2.96. I couldn’t buy drink coasters at that price and, old/damaged CD/DVDs make very acceptable coasters.   Smile

So, despite the fact that solid state devices are cheap and portable and, are often ideal for long term storage, I still have a need to burn data to DVDs. If you have a similar need, and you’re looking for value in a CD/DVD burner (and what can be better than free), then CDBurnerXP (last updated November, 2011), is definitely a significant freeware application.

The fairly simple interface makes it a breeze to use for even the most inexperienced user, although it should be said that some users have mentioned the interface has some confusing aspects.  Hmm, I don’t see it.

I have burned dozens of DVDs in the last year using this free application, and in every case, CDBurnerXP did the job flawlessly. I can’t tell you how many times, over the years, a burner has misbehaved – but lots, comes close.

If you’re looking for a free CD/DVD burner application to do what it says it will do, with an easy to work with interface, then CDBurnerXP could be the program you’ve been looking for.

The following screen captures illustrate just how “one click simple” it is to burn an ISO for example, using CDBurnerXP.

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Now, how hard is that?

Quick facts:

Burn audio-CDs with, and without gaps between tracks

Burn on the fly (you don’t have to image the disc in advance)

Rip Audio-CDs to a Hard Drive

Obtains track-information (ID3-tags) from the Internet

Burn and create ISO-files

Create bootable discs

Drag-and-drop

Multilanguage interface

Customizable with many settings

Data verification after burn,

Simple cover printing

Supports most IDE, USB, FireWire and SCSI drives

Free – (for both personal and corporate use)

No adware, malicious components, or restrictions

Available languages: Arabic, Bahasa Melayu, Catalan, Georgian, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Slovenian.

System Requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7 (64 bit available Vista and Win 7).

Additional Requirements: .NET Framework 2.0

Download at: CDburnerXP

A portable version of CDBurnerXP (last updated January 8th, 2012) which includes the full feature set (ideal for installation on a Flash Drive), is available at: Softpedia

Note: If you are using a DVD-RW (as I did for these tests) which already contains data – CDBurnerXP will not warn you that you are about to overwrite that data.

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Filed under CD/DVD Tools, downloads, Freeware, New Computer User Software Tools, Portable Applications, Software

xplorer2 lite Freeware – Does Portable Too

imageYou might think that your stuck with the Windows Explorer version that your particular version of Windows supports – but, your not. While the Windows 7 version of Explorer is an improvement over previous versions, it still falls short in several areas – for those of us who manage files on a daily basis.

A freeware Windows Explorer replacement* xplorer2 lite (last updated October 2011), offers a number of additional functions including dual panes, and folder tabs, which should make your file management tasks more efficient.

* during installation you may choose to replace Windows Explorer, or you may install xplorer2 lite side-by-side with Windows Explorer.

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Typical Windows Explorer display – in this case Windows 7. (Click on graphic to expand).

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xplorer2 lite display in dual pane mode – showing local disk E: (Windows 8), and local disk C: (Windows 7). Click on graphic to expand.

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xplorer2 lite display in thumbnail mode.

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A very cool tip of the day function helps users learn to take advantage of the great features in xplorer2 lite. Examples are shown below.

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Fast facts:

Dual panes and folder tabs

Browse everywhere (all shell namespace)

Preview documents, pictures, music, video

Side by side views for easy file management

Filter and select with wildcards

Synchronize folders

System requirements: Windows All (32 & 64 bit) XP, Vista, 7

Languages supported: English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, and more.

Download at: Developer’s site

xplorer2 lite edition portable version available at: SmithTechSoftware

A caveat – during installation you will be offered a Toolbar. Consider carefully as to whether installation is in your best interest.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, downloads, File Management, Freeware, Portable Applications, Utilities

NirLauncher – 100+ Free Utilities In One Download

imageIf you’re  a Geek, then I’ll wager that you’ve got at least one of NirSoft’s incredibly useful small utilities on your Hard Drive – or, on a Flash Drive. If you’re not yet familiar with NirSoft’s  collection of free tools, then you’re in for a treat.

NirSoft offers over 100 freeware utilities ranging from Password Tools, Network Monitoring Tools, to System Tools and more. All are available as individual downloads, or you can download all 100+ applications in one neat package – NirLauncher

In order to start using NirLauncher, extract the files in the package to your Flash Drive, or your Hard Drive. After you have extracted the package, simply run the executable file – NirLauncher.exe

Once you’ve launched NirLauncher, you can then launch any utility you choose from the GUI. You’ll notice, in the following graphic, that the tools are grouped by function.

Clicking any graphic on this page will expand it to its original size.

A total of 106 Utilities.

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Password recovery utilities illustrated.

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Fast facts:

NirLauncher can be used from USB flash drive without the need to install.

NirLauncher package includes a variety of tools, including utilities to recover lost passwords, to monitor your network, to view and extract cookies, cache, and other information stored by your Web browser, to search files in your system, and more…

For every utility in the package, you can easily run it, view the help file, or jump to the Web page of the utility.

When installed on a USB flash drive, the configuration of every utility is saved into a .cfg file on the flash drive.

On x64 systems, NirLauncher automatically runs the x64 version of the utility, when there is a specific x64 version.

NirLauncher allows you to add additional software packages – including SysInternals Suite. Please see the download page for additional information.

System requirements: Windows 2000 up to Windows 7.  NirLauncher also works on x64 systems.

Download at: Nirsoft – scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Available languages: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Traditional Chinese.

The false positive issue:

I recently came across a forum comment (on another site), made by a regular reader, who made the comment that he occasionally gets a malware warning on applications I recommend.

He’s right, and here’s why.

Many of the applications I test and recommend, are designed to be used by sophisticated users and often, these applications dig deep into the operating system replicating the behavior of hacking tools on the one hand – and malware on the other hand.

Some of the applications in NirLauncher are a perfect example of this. A number of the recovery utilities are in fact, hacking tools. Any application which can recover a hidden password is, by its very nature, a hacking tool.

You can see from the following graphic, that on installing NirLauncher my primary AV, Microsoft Security Essentials, went into overdrive to warn me of 5 potential threats contained in the NirLauncher package. This is exactly what Microsoft Security Essentials is designed to do.

Here’s what I said in a previous article dealing with false positives:

Antimalware applications are not immune from false positives. In fact, false positives are more common than many users realize. Just one example – some AVs are notorious for seeing extractor files in application setup files as a Trojan.

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Since I was well aware that the warnings were false positives – all items were allowed.

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Here’s what NirSoft has to say on the false positive issueAntivirus companies cause a big headache to small developers.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Integrated Solutions, PC Tools, Portable Applications, Software, System Utilities, Utilities

Free Linux Live USB Creator – Run Or Boot Linux From A Flash Drive

imageIf you’re looking for a painless way to run Linux without having installed any one of 200+ distributions to your Hard Drive, or without having to boot from a Live CD, then open source Linux Live USB Creator could be the perfect tool. In a very simple process, Linux Live USB Creator will install any one of a huge range of Linux distributions to a USB drive.

After installing your chosen Linux distribution, either from an existing ISO on your HD, or exercising the option to download an ISO through Linux Live USB Creator, you will have several available options.

Option 1 –  Run LinuxLive USB directly within Windows in a virtual environment.

Option 2 – Boot directly from the LinuxLive USB key.

The following screen captures illustrate how a previously complex process has been streamlined, so that a competent average user should be able to breeze through the installation. For this review, I installed PCLinux from an ISO, previously stored on my HD, to an 8 GB Flash Drive.

Launching Linux Live USB Creator will take you to a colorful, “follow the bouncing ball” simple interface.

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In less than 5 minutes the process is complete and I’m off to the races!

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Well, sort of. In fact, immediately upon installation completion, you will be taken to the developer’s site for a quick heads-up on using Linux Live USB Creator.

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As per the developer’s instructions, using Windows Explorer, I navigated to the newly installed VirtualBox folder on the USB drive, clicked on Virtualize_This_Key.exe, and sat back as PCLinux launched inside Windows in VirtualBox.

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Now, how cool is that! No fuss, no muss, no knowledge of running a virtual system required.

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As stated earlier, you have a huge selection of Linux distros to choose from. For this review I choose PCLinux since I had it hanging around on my HD – one of those “I’ll get to it when I can” downloads.

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Fast facts:

Free and Open-source – LinuxLive USB Creator is a completely free and open-source software for Windows only. It has been built with simplicity in mind and it can be used by anyone.

No reboot needed – Are you sick of having to reboot your PC to try Linux? No need with LinuxLive USB Creator. It has a built-in virtualization feature that lets you run your Linux within Windows just out of the box!

Supports many Linux distributions – Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, OpenSUSE, Mint, Slax, CentOS, ArchLinux, Gentoo, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon, BackTrack, Puppy Linux …

Persistence – Having a Live USB key is better than just using a Live CD because you can even save your data and install software. This feature is called persistence (available only on selected Linux).

SmartClean & SmartDownload – SmartClean uninstalls properly any previous Live USB installations and SmartDownload lets you download any supported Linux in 2 clicks automatically selecting the best mirror to download from. SmartClean also lets you clean your USB key in 1 click.

Intelligent processing – LiLi works with many Linux, even if they are not officially supported.

Hidden installation – LiLi hides the Linux installation, your USB key stays clean.

File integrity – tells you if your ISO is corrupted.

Keeps your data on your USB device.

Intelligent formatting – can format disks bigger than 32 GB.

Auto-update – automatic updates when new Linux distributions are available.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP

Download at: Linux Live USB

User’s Guide – This tutorial will show you how to create a Linux Live USB very easily.

Tested on Windows 8 (developer).

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Filed under downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Linux, Live CDs, Open Source, Operating Systems, Portable Applications, Software, USB, Virtualization, Windows 8, Windows Tips and Tools

Is IObit Uninstaller 2.0 A Revo Uninstaller Worthy Competitor?

imageLike most geeks, Revo Uninstaller is my main “go to” program for uninstalling applications – except anti-malware applications, which tend to be tricky to remove. Luckily, AppRemover, a powerful free anti-malware, antivirus application remover, supports the removal of virtually all of the most popular antivirus and antispyware applications.

IObit, the developers of the highly recommended Advanced SystemCare, has spread its wings in the last few years and released a raft of applications (both free and commercial), which cover a broad spectrum of computer consumers’ needs. One of these is IObit Uninstaller – now in its second version – which is designed to go toe-to-toe with the venerable Revo Uninstaller.

IObit Uninstaller 2.0, is a simple executable file which does not require installation – making it suitable for a USB toolbox. I emphasize this point, since I often get reader questions wondering why a particular application is not listed in “All Programs”, or elsewhere.

Since IObit Uninstaller is a simple executable, it’s blazingly fast out of the gate – as it should be – and launches into a simple, and instinctive, user interface.

For this review walkthrough, I have chosen to uninstall an application updater on my test system – Nvidia Update – which, as you can see – IObit Uninstaller has located and listed under “All Programs”.

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Prior to completing the uninstall action, the application offers an opportunity to create a Restore Point.

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In this case, the uninstall process took a matter of just a few seconds following which, a secondary scan (Powerful Scan), was offered. The Powerful Scan has been designed to clean out any leftover entries – including cleaning up the registry.

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As the following screen capture indicates, using the Powerful Scan was a good choice since the initial scan had not deleted the program file directory.

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As illustrated in the following screen shot, IObit Uninstaller offers the user a number of additional uninstall options – other than the straightforward “All Programs” option. You’ll also note, that the application is available in a number of selected languages.

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Fast facts:

Batch Uninstall – Uninstall several applications so easily with just one click.

Standard and Advanced Uninstall – While Standard Uninstall works as the Windows built-in Add/Remove Programs function, Advanced Uninstall function helps you scan Windows registry and hard drive for any possible installation leftovers.

1-Click Toolbars Removal – Annoyed by so many toolbars in your system? Here’s the simplest and fastest solution.

Portable Application – Look for a pure uninstaller that does NOT need an installation and will not screw your system again? IObit Uninstaller is the answer.

Forced Uninstall – Even if a program is not listed in Windows built-in Add/Remove Programs, this feature still can help you automatically find the program’s leftovers and traces in your system and remove them completely.

Log Manager and Restoration – Easily view what has been changed by IObit Uninstaller. Every time an “Advanced Uninstall” is performed, a restore point image will be automatically set for possible future system restoration.

Free and Easy-to-use – No IT knowledge needed, just download it and simply run it to remove all junk programs.

System requirements: Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows 7 (64 bit), Windows Vista (32 bit), Windows Vista (64 bit), Windows XP.

Download at: Softpedia

Frankly, I don’t think either product has a marked competitive advantage – one over the other. Both applications perform essentially the same function – uninstall applications. Still, there are differences that should be noted.

IObit Uninstaller Pluses – The user interface sidebar lists a number of items   that may be important to an average user, including – installed toolbars, recently installed applications, large programs, rarely used applications,  and Windows Updates. Full 64-bit compatibility.

Revo Uninstaller Pluses – Revo Uninstaller (as illustrated in the following graphic), provides an opportunity to dig deep into an application prior to removal and, additional information on an entry can be generated by following the enclosed Google search link.

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The following graphic illustrates additional functionality available in Revo  including – Autorun Manager, Tracks Cleaner and access to Windows System Tools. These additional features may have more value to an advanced user than to an average user.

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In the final analysis – which one is better?

I don’t think it’s quite as simple as to which one is better. But, I do think IObit Uninstaller may be better suited to those users who are not as familiar with system maintenance as more educated users. It seems to me, that Revo Uninstaller has more broad appeal for those users who like to dig just a little deeper.

Additional free uninstaller software – 

MenuUninstaller is a free Context Menu alternative to the Windows Add or Remove Programs applet

SlimCleaner Final – Optimizer, Uninstaller, Shredder and Anti- Hijacker Built In

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Computer Maintenance, downloads, Freeware, IObit, Portable Applications, Software, Uninstall Tools, Windows Tips and Tools