Abort-Retry-Fail: Just a few more freebies and tools

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By Bill Gregory

I want to throw out just a few last free utilities and applications that might be of interest to some of you readers.

Windows has a lot of settings that most users are unaware of. They are unaware because in many cases Microsoft has made it difficult or impossible to find how to adjust those settings.

FreshUI makes it easy. (FreshUI works on Windows 98 through XP; it does not work on Vista.)

I found that many of the Windows settings that are available in FreshUI are easy to find and manipulate in Windows while others are not.

For instance, if you wanted to keep someone from accessing the Control Panel where they might change some sensitive networking settings, you can remove the Control Panel from the Start menu and block access to it using FreshUI.

Likewise if you wanted to keep anyone from changing your display settings or your screen saver, you can eliminate those options individually.

FreshUI can be downloaded from freshdevices.com. If you have a lot of media files (images, audio or video), you might want to take a look at FreshView while you are at the FreshDevices website.

If your computer is running Windows Vista, don't feel left out. You can go to totalidea.com and download TweakVI Basic.

Ever wonder what hardware is installed on your computer? You could go to belarc.com and download a free copy of the Advisor and find out.

The Advisor will tell you pretty much everything you could ever want to know about your system. Of course you know what company built your computer and you might know how much RAM you have and what make and model of CPU you have.

Do you know how large your CPU L2 (second level) cache is? Do you know if your security updates and anti-virus updates are current? Advisor will tell you.

It will also show the software licenses for all software installed on your computer. (This is a handy thing to know when it comes time to re-install software after a system crash.)

At less than 1.6 Mb, it is a free, quick download. The Belarc Advisor runs on Windows 95 through Vista.

Have you ever been looking for a file, using Windows Explorer, and the filename didn't tell you enough but you didn't want to have to open the file in its main program?

Well, Alexey Torgashin has a solution for you. It is called a Universal Viewer, available at uvviewsoft.com, and it will allow you to open nearly any file type and get a glimpse of it to help narrow your search.

This will give you a quick answer to that, "Is this the file I want?" question.

Lastly, how many times have you deleted a file only to think, moments later, that you needed that file?

You could go out and plunk down $50 or more for a utility to "undelete" the file (or files) or you could go to http://www3.telus.net/mikebike/RESTORATION.html and download Restoration for free.

This is a small (1 Mb) program that will aid you in locating the erased file and restoring it. The web page at the above URL gives complete information about running the program as well as caveats regarding its use. Restoration can be run from a "thumb drive" or even a floppy drive (if you have one).

Another solution for the "lost files" problem is FreeUndelete from OfficeRecovery.com. Like Restoration, FreeUndelete is a small file that can be run from a USB Flash Drive or a floppy disk.

You should be aware that once a file has been "deleted" from your hard drive the space it had occupied is made available to store new files that are written to your disk.

So if you realize today that you accidentally erased a file six months ago, it is probably too late. Best word of advice: use the Recycle Bin in Windows whenever you "delete" a file.

If you have a computer-related problem or question that you would like answered in this column, please send it to the Cedar Key Beacon by email at editor@cedarkeybeacon or PCTech@islandcity.net.