It's a fact: Computer hard drives fail without warning, viruses destroy company records, and unauthorized eyes try to spy on your business. How can you safeguard your valuable files and optimize computer performance? By using a simple collection of indispensable software products. Think of them as your software-survival kit.
These 23 software and service packages represent powerful tools to keep your business running with minimal risk and maximum performance. Download a few and secure your business operations before it's too late. (Unless otherwise noted, the following programs are designed for all versions of Windows (from 95 to XP) and offer a trial version you can download over the Internet.)
RegClean 4.1a (1997) (774KB)
Free from Microsoft (microsoft.com)
Tired of waiting for your computer to power up? Reduce the wait and free up precious resources with RegClean. This tool removes registry clutter left behind by sloppy software and incomplete un-installers. Designed by the people that make Windows. Unfortunately, this program only works with Windows 95 and 98.
CompuApps DriveWizard 2.05 (2003) (3.65MB)
$30 from CompuApps (compuapps.com)
An easy-to-use hard-drive manager that can clone or resize your storage partitions without the risk of losing data.
System Mechanic 3.7h (2002) (1.5MB)
$59.95 from IoIo Technologies (IoIo.com)
Similar to RegCleaner, this software cleans the registry. Then System Mechanic goes further and removes unneeded files, and optimizes the Windows security and networking settings.
WinZip 8.1 SR-1 (2002) (1.71MB)
$29 from WinZip Computing (winzip.com)
This wildly popular compression/decompression tool makes space saving copies of files and folders without losing any information. "Zipped" files are extremely compact, making them easy to transfer by removable media or Internet access. This is an indispensable tool for making off-site copies of your business data. WinZip is so well thought out it becomes a seamless extension to Windows Explorer.
RegCleaner 4.3 (2002) (540KB)
Free from Jouni (jv16.org)
This is similar to RegClean except it supports all versions of Windows, including XP.
Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.1 (2002) (8.42MB)
Free from Adobe Systems (adobe.com)
Most storage facilities offer user's manuals and help guides on their website. With rare exceptions, these items are stored in Adobe Reader PDF format. PDF is virus free, extremely compact and preserves the formatting. The reader becomes a seamless feature within Windows Explorer.
Active@ File Recovery 2.01 (2003) (523KB)
$49 from Active Data Recovery Services (file-recovery.net)
Although this utility can only restore small files, Active@ offers an Internet-based service that recovers lost data for an added fee. There is no free trial of this service.
SystemSafe 6.2.521 (2002) (3.04MB)
$19.95 from NetMass (netmass.com)
A disaster-recovery tool that automatically and securely copies your computer data over the office network or Internet. Think of this as information insurance. You may already have some of this protection if your management software automatically e-mails a copy of your data files to an alternate location.
BadCopy Pro 3.62 (2003) (774KB)
$39.50 from JufSoft (jufsoft.com)
When your precious data disappears to "Never-Never Land," BadCopy can bring it back, even when the drive is no longer recognized by Windows. BadCopy also works on most removable storage devices like camera cards, ZIP and JAZ disks, CDs, and floppy disks.
VirtualLab 2.2 Data Recovery (2003) (1.42MB)
$546 (plus $149 per GB to restore) from Total Recall Data Recovery (totalrecall.com)
Just mail them your drive for complete restoration. There is no free trial of this service.
Spector Pro 4.0 (2003) (CD only)
$99.95 from Spector (spectorsoft.com)
Do you need to keep an eye on things? Now you can know how your office computers are being used. Spector records every keystroke, e-mail and how each program was used. As of this writing, the above-noted programs could not detect Spector Pro 4.0.
Who's Watching Me 1.4 (2003) (382KB)
$25 from Trapware (trapware.com)
If you are concerned your fellow employees are monitoring your work, this simple tool searches your computer for keystroke recorders (keyloggers) and products that capture screenshots of your daily work.
BCWipe 3.04 (2003) (1.9MB)
$39.95 from Jetico (jetico.com)
As noted earlier, some programs can restore deleted files. This utility will permanently delete files so they cannot be restored by any data-recovery program.
Spybot 1.1 (2002) (2.4MB)
Free from PepiMK Software (patrick.kolla.de)
Got the feeling you're being watched? This handy tool searches your hard disk for Internet-based spyware programs that steal your files and snoop on your activity.
BestCrypt 7.08.1 (2003) (3.45MB)
$90 from Jetico (jetico.com)
This software sets aside a portion of your hard drive for sensitive information. Everything you store in the protected area is extremely safe from all prying eyes. Purchase includes the BCWipe program.
Norton Internet Security Pro (2003) (CD only)
$99.99 from Symantec (symantec.com)
Here is a great example of when an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is the industry standard for comprehensive virus protection. It monitors both incoming and outgoing e-mails and includes Norton's Antivirus software.
ZoneAlarm 3.1.395 (2002) (3.6MB)
Free from ZoneLabs (zonelabs.com)
Stop malicious hackers before they stop you with ZoneAlarm's firewall protection. You control which programs and computers have access to your business files and network connections. I recommend this program for everyone.
SpamCatcher (2002) (2.26MB)
$19.95 from Mailshell (mailshell.com)
This is an anti-spam filter designed for Outlook 2.0. SpamCatcher compares junk mail against a real-time database of known e-mail signatures. Junk mail is filtered out before it reaches your in-box. SpamCatcher also supports AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo! and IMAP e-mail accounts. The program is guaranteed to block junk e-mails or your money back.
Accelerator Plus 5.3 (2002) (1.67MB)
Free from SpeedBit (speedbit.com)
With Accelerator Plus, your Internet downloads will be up to three times faster, even across dial-up connections or proxy servers. Disrupted downloads are automatically resumed, and you can schedule downloads for the middle of the night. It is free, so what's the catch? You can't disable the banner advertisements that are shown through the Accelerator Plus interface.
Internet Download Manager 3.11 (2003) (750KB)
$24.95 from Tonec Inc. (internetdownloadmanager.com)
Here is an Internet accelerator similar to Accelerator Plus, except there are no banner adds, the download speeds are significantly faster, and the user interface supports more options.
Remote PC Access 2.2 (2003) (900KB)
$35 from Remote Access Software (access-remote-pc.com)
Use the Internet to securely access your accounting files and operate your management software from an off-site location. What makes this program special is its compatibility with dynamic IP addresses and firewalls.
Stamps.com 3.0 (2002) (1MB)
$4.49 from Stamps (stamps.com)
Legally make your own postage stamps using your plain-paper printer. Mail everything from postcards to packages worldwide. You also receive discounted rates on electronic delivery and signature confirmations.
Rippling Water Photo Edition 5.0 (2002) (1.42MB)
$12 from ControlZed (controlzed.com)
OK, this entry is just for fun. Forget those boring screensavers and add animated waterscapes to your management computer when it's not in use. Expand the scenery with more than 50 images available from the vendor's website.
Doug Carner is on the Western-region board of directors for the Self Storage Association. He is also the vice president of QuikStor Security & Software, a California-based company specializing in access control, management software, digital video surveillance and corporate products for the self-storage industry. For more information, call 800.321.1987; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.quikstor.com.