Really useful free software for Windows 10

Windows is a great operating system, but it's not perfect. That is exactly what we are changing. The internet is full of freeware, but which free software for Windows 10 is actually useful and should not be missing on your PC? An overview.

Although Windows has matured in recent years, there are still areas where the operating system falls short. Enthusiastic developers have responded to this and released programs that provide precisely these missing functions. We selected nine pieces.

Better privacy management with O&D ShutUp10

Admittedly: the makers of Windows 10 have made a lot of changes to the privacy settings in recent updates, so that they are now clearer than in the first versions of Windows 10. Still, things can be much better, the makers of O&O ShutUp10 must have thought. This program gives you extensive control over the privacy settings in Windows 10. It is also nice that you can use the program free of charge.

In the main window you will find all the settings in a clear overview. There are different categories, including for apps and the browser. In the column Recommended see if it is recommended to enable the setting. For example, it is recommended to enable ad blocking via bluetooth, but the app indicates that it is less useful to always enable the camera blocking. click on Actions, Apply only recommended settings to restrict Windows privacy options in one go.

Return to the original situation is possible at any time: select Actions, Undo all changes ('factory settings'). Important: Make sure to back up your system before making the changes. In O&O ShutUp10 you choose for this Actions, Create a system restoration point.

Encrypt files with VeraCrypt

Time to put our personal files and folders under lock and key too. We do that with VeraCrypt. With the help of a unique 'identifier' (such as a password) and an encryption algorithm, the files are made unreadable. You specify which files should be encrypted. For example, you can choose to encrypt a specific partition or folder and store your personal files in it. The files are housed in an 'encrypted file container', which only you have access to.

Back up your files first before encrypting them; also make sure you are fully familiar with how VeraCrypt works. Then you choose Create Volume and follow the steps of the wizard to determine which parts you want to protect. Choose Create an encrypted file container or – when shielding an entire partition or disk – for Encrypt a non-system partition/drive. Follow the wizard's further steps to encrypt the files.

Manage passwords with KeePass

A good password manager should not be missing in Windows 10. Time to add this yourself. We choose KeePass. This is a free and open source manager that is regularly updated. In the main KeePass window you will find the different password categories, while the services and associated login details are shown on the right. To create a new group, choose Group, Add Group. Give the group an appropriate name (for example, Business Passwords or Private Passwords). Then fill the group with the login details of your services. Choose Input, Add Input.

Interesting is the wizard with which you can generate strong passwords. You can find it via Tools, Generate Password. On the Settings tab you can indicate which conditions new passwords must meet. Always make sure you have printed an emergency sheet and keep it safe: in case of an emergency, you (or someone you designate) will find the most important details to access the information. Then choose File, Print, Print Emergency Sheet.

Dive deeper into Windows 10 and take control of the operating system with our Tech Academy. Check the Windows 10 Management online course or go for the Windows 10 Management bundle including technique and practice book.

Recover deleted files with Recuva

The Recycle Bin is of course a nice safety net if you've deleted something and you change your mind later, but it could be better. With Recuva you can recover files that you have actually deleted by accident. There is a free variant available; which is sufficient in many of the cases for file recovery. In the main window, choose the disk (or partition) where the files originally resided and specify which file formats to search for. The search results are shown in a list, after which you can check which files need to be recovered.

The preview allows you to see which file it is before you restore it. This is especially useful for photos. The program works like a two-stage rocket: if the file is not found in the normal scan, you can always de Deep Scan bets: checks the disc even more thoroughly. The wizard is useful for novice users. This guides you through the steps required to recover a file.

Tabbed programs with Groupy

Microsoft tried it for a while in test versions of Windows 10, but the company withdrew the functionality in the end: tabs of different programs in one window. For example, if you are working on a report, you can create one window with a tab with Word, another tab with Chrome and the websites you need for the report, and a tab with Spotify for the necessary relaxation. This way you have one window in which everything is collected for your current work session.

Fortunately, Groupy offers this functionality and you are no longer dependent on Microsoft. You can create windows with different programs. Also useful: the next day simply open the window and continue where you left off, including all programs you had open at that time. You can also save the groups of programs to recall them at a later time.

Fix common issues with FixWin

Is Windows again not doing what you want and showing annoying cures? Windows' built-in Troubleshooters quickly fall short. With FixWin you have access to a large list of common and annoying problems for which the program has an automated solution. Think, for example, of thumbnails of documents that suddenly no longer appear in the Explorer or the Recycle Bin icon that is no longer refreshed once the Recycle Bin is filled or emptied.

The problems are divided into six categories. Open the category to see all issues. Do you recognize a problem, click on the button fix to solve the problem automatically. Sometimes there are multiple solutions available for a problem. click on Fix 2 to try the second solution.

Always remember to create a restore point first, so you can go back to a point in the past in case of an emergency. This option is also offered by FixWin.

Drivers up to date with Snappy Driver Installer

Snappy Driver Installer allows you to keep the system drivers up to date. This program makes an analysis of your system and makes an inventory of which drivers are needed. It then automatically downloads the latest versions of the drivers. We like to be in control, so we choose to see a list of available drivers and make our own selection of drivers to install in the end. In the main window you can choose from three options: Download All DriverPacks, Download Network Drivers Only and Download Indexes Only. We choose the latter option.

Always make a backup of the computer before installing the drivers. This option is offered by Snappy Driver Installer. Then click install. It is nice that the drivers can also be installed offline, so that you are not always dependent on an internet connection. It is a pity that the software does not offer the possibility to add drivers yourself, but otherwise the program is a valuable addition to the standard Windows functionality.

Windows in a virtual machine with Sandboxie

The latest version of Windows 10 Professional introduces Windows Sandbox: a built-in shielded environment in which you can, for example, test test programs without affecting the rest of the computer. Such a built-in virtual machine is of course a welcome addition, but unfortunately users of Windows 10 Home are left out. No problem: we add the free program Sandboxie to our own Windows installation.

Sandboxie allows you to run programs in an isolated environment. It is nice that Sandboxie is not only suitable for Windows 10, but also for earlier Windows versions. To create a new sandbox, choose Sandbox, Create New Sandbox. Provide the group with an appropriate name. Look at DefaultBox for shortcuts to frequently used programs and add new programs yourself. Choose from Any Program, From Start Menu or Windows Explorer. To show that a program is running in a sandbox environment, the # character appears.

Remove Duplicate Files with Auslogics Duplicate File Finder

Finally, keep the Windows environment tidy and prevent the system from getting filled with duplicate files. Identical files are not only redundant, but also take up valuable disk space. For example, several photo folders, in which the photos are duplicated because you have often backed up the photo folder of your mobile phone. With Duplicate File Finder you will automatically look for such files.

This way you can have files of a certain type traced, such as music files or photos. The option to exclude specific periods or file names is useful. By the way, Duplicate File Finder has a built-in backup function; This is not an unnecessary luxury if you are serious about thinning out the files.

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