I am a physics student and I find myself always recommending various software to people. Here is a list of some useful free software for mainly general use.
Note I have tried to keep most of the list focused on free software. However I find that alot of software has a free and pro version worth mentioning (particularly for security). Others I have not found a free version or if there is a free version I don't like it that much/its functionality is limited however there is in general a trial version of such software.
If anyone else has a mention of free or very useful software, feel free to mention it in the comments below (you may have a bit of scrolling to do).
Sphinx Windows 7 Firewall Control (Free/Pro $25 - Free version suffices)
A user should ensure that their standard security includes a firewall, an antivirus program and an antimalware program. What is the best security software is a subject of continuous debate. Personally I use Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes' Antimalware and Windows 7 Firewall Control. I have found this to suffice.
CCleaner, clears your system of junk files and also has an inbuilt registry cleaner. Other users will advice you to take care using the registry cleaner component. I have likewise experienced problems with other registry cleaning programs however I have found no damage with CCleaner's registry cleaner.
Defraggler defrags your hard drive (removes file fragments) to improve performance. Revo Uninstaller removes many files that a standard removal wouldn't. It is useful if you have problems uninstalling a program.
Dell Support scans the hardware on a Dell system, checking it in a similar way the diagnostics do. It also has inbuilt system information and links to the manuals and drivers. It also gives the temperatures of some of the components in the detailed system information.
Speccy again gives you alot of system information, it is useful for a quick glance at the system temperature and has a simple interface. Belarc Advisor gives you a print out of all the software on your system and gives you your Office and Windows product keys; it is free for Home Use.
Easeus partition manager is a great program for repartitioning your hard drive, upon which you have Windows installed. HP Format Tool is useful for formatting USB flash drives and external hard drives. Unlocker allows one to delete files that they are ordinarily able to delete. See here for introductory wiki on EaseUs Partition Manager.
• Internet 9 for Vista/7
• Internet 8 for XP
Even if you are not using Internet Explorer as your default browser, because you are using a Windows Operating System, I would recommend keeping it up to date and downloading the latest version applicable to your version of WIndows for security/stability purposes. I really like Internet Explorer 9 it has significant improvements over earlier versions of Internet Explorer.
Fast very easy to use browser. The adblock extension is excellent removing almost all adverts from a standard webpage. This is my favourite browser.
Firefox is a very popular browser and has a great deal of extensions offering it variable enhanced functionality. Many people have a preference for this browser.
Another quite popular browser, I have rarely used it however.
The skydrive is an excellent place to store/share and access their documents online. It is quite spacious for a free service and easy to use. Windows Live Mesh takes 5 GB of this space and allows you to sync folders on multiple computers. It also allows you to remote access other computers you have the Live Mesh software installed on and logged in that are powered up. Dropbox in comparison offers less online storage for free but has excellent syncing tools (I prefer the Skydrive and Mesh). Dropbox users have to pay for more storage space. See here for detailed wiki on these services. Microsoft has definitely put alot of work into their cloud services.
Microsoft Office 2010 Starter
Microsoft Office Visio
The starter version is generally preinstalled but it can be downloaded from the above link (requires Vista with SP1 or Windows 7). Full versions of other Office software may also be found here however one must purchase a product key.
I mention Visio here because it is an excellent drawing software which one often overlooks in the Office suite. It generally (unfortunately) has to be purchased separately.
My personal preference is with Microsoft Office however this is a subject of much debate/personal taste.
This is a program for writing and storing references. It has some OCR mechanism that allows it to extract relevant data from pdfs. There is an addin to insert the references into Microsoft Word and likewise for OpenOffice. Note the 64 bit version of Office 2010 is as yet unsupported.
It can take quite some time to run however it is a free program which generally gets the job done thankfully I have not had much need for it.
Adobe Reader is a program for reading PDF, Foxit PDF reader is a lighter on system resources. The djvu and xps readers are for reading formats similar to pdf. PDFCreator and CutePDF are pdf printers, this way one can print files from any program to pdf. CutePDF offers better quality but PDFCreator allows one to print to other formats such as jpeg and to print multiple files into one document. CutePDF allows further manipulation of the PDF. However Foxit PDF Editor (changed to Foxit Phantom) may be used to fully edit the pdf. I have not tried the new version.
These programs can be used to open various file formats such as 7Z, ARC, BZ2, GZ, PAQ, PEA, QUAD/BALZ, TAR, UPX, WIM, XZ, ZIP, RAR. 7zip and peazip are free whereas WinRAR is only a trial. 7zip and peazip are both excellent but have a slightly different user interface. I prefer 7zip.
Multimon is a free program which gives a taskbar on each screen for a desktop/laptop equipped with multiple monitors. It has XP styles incorporated only. Actual Windows Manager is vastly superior and has Windows 7/Vista styles and alot of additional tools. Stardock Fences enables users to lock heir desktop icons in a "fence". See here for an introductory wiki on Actual Windows Manager.
Mathtype is for typing maths, the free version Mathtype Lite only allows one to type in black and white but is suitable for most purposes. When installed you get a 30 day trial of the full version. The full version has LaTex commands. It works perfectly with many applications including Microsoft Office and OpenOffice. BK Chem is for drawing chemical structures. Microsoft Mathematics is a free graphics calculator. Essentially a free graphics calculator for Windows. Can perform integration, differenciation, calculus trig, unit conversion etc. etc. Has 2D and 3D graphic capabilities with rotation. Has some problems if you make functions too complicated.
Splash Lite is an excellent player with a great user interface however unfortunately it cannot play DVDs. VLC Player, plays about everything (except blu ray discs). Klite Codec Pack fixes many of the codecs within Windows and to allow windows media player for example to play more files. WinDVD is a feature rich program for playback of HD DVD formats. AnyDVD HD removes copy protection and also DVD regions.
This is a great program, it is an onscreen volume meter (similar to the Dell Quickset volume meter in Dell laptops). There are many shortcut keys in addition; the windows key and mouse wheel up, increases volume, likewise the windows key and mouse wheel down, decreases volume. Note use the small glass setting to get it closest to the Dell Quickset look (Have to run it twice to get the options). The options I select are Run on Startup, play sound, keep above other windows, set to a custom position. Brightness meters will later be integrated. If you have a Dell laptop it is best to use Dell Quickset instead but I would use this program on a desktop.
Freemake Youtube Video Convertor is great for downloading Youtube video to .MKV, .AVI & .MP3. It also works on some other similar websites. The video convertor seems quite good when I converted some files from .AVI to .MKV.
GIMP is an excellent piece of software for picture editting, including fine rotation (angle controlled) and brightness and contrast settings. Inkscape is a vector based drawing software, it is open source but I personally prefer Microsoft Office Visio 2010.
The .iso files downloads of Windows 7 and standalone updates. In addition a tool to manage the .iso for installation. For more information see my other wiki here. RT-7-Lite may be used for Service Pack slipstream and some other minor tweaks (However does not seem to like my Windows 7 Dell OEM DVD). I would recommend not using RT-7-Lite and instead downloading the .iso with Service Pack 1 preintegrated by Microsoft or install the Service Pack straight after installing Windows 7.
Standalone updates for Windows Vista. In addition a tool to manage the .iso for installation. For more information see my other wiki here. Vlite may be used for Service Pack 1 slipstream (but not Service Pack 2 for some reason) and some other minor tweaks. I would recommend not using Vlite and instead downloading the .iso with Service Pack 1 preintegrated by Microsoft and/or install the Service Packs 1 and 2 straight after installing Windows Vista.
Standalone updates for Windows XP. Nlite may be used for Service Pack slipstream and some other minor tweaks. See here for wiki on nlite. The Royale Noir Theme is an additonal them for Windows XP. PageDefrag defrags system files which are currently in use. There are no public official download links for Windows XP, this OS is greatly being phased out; upgrade to WIndows 7 if your system can support it.
A variety of usable portable USB software may be found here.
Autodesk Education Community
Notably Visual Studio 2010 Professional along with other developer tools can be downloaded free of charge for all students from Microsoft DreamSpark. A free student version of all Autodesk software may be found by joining the AutoCAD student community.
There is a range of other heavily discounted student software (in particular Windows 7 and Office 2010) but these depend on what country you reside in.
In earlier versions I took screenshots and described alot of the software but I guess it was too long reading and it is better to put a brief description, the user will find out more if they click on the download links or do a quick google search. I have made some links to other wikis I have wrote that provide more information on some of the software.
If anyone has better software suggestions feel free to comment, it would be appreciated. In particular sections 5 and 6 and of course software within categories not listed.