Software I have installed on every system I use, including my DAW
If your computer is connected to the Internet, you need an antivirus program. This is practically unavoidable these days. Unfortunately, they often tend to be intrusive, both in terms of negative performance impact on your system as well as in numerous distractions in the form of popups, banners, sounds, messages etc. This is particularly the case with free antivirus solutions, which often offer the same level of protection as the commercial ones, but at the cost of these annoyances.
So, choosing the right free antivirus program for your DAW is not an easy task. My personal choice is Bitdefender Free. It offers the same level of protection as the commercial products from the company, which is at the very top when it comes to malware detection for many years now. Also, this is the only free antivirus program out there (apart from Windows Defender) that, at least to my knowledge, doesn’t contain any kind of commercial popups and even banners. These obstructions are not only distracting and unpleasant to the eye, they also drain your precious computer resources. Bitdefender Free has decent speed when scanning for malware. The program itself is really simple, even spartan in design, so it lacks even some basic additional features like scheduler. But this may not be necessarily a bad thing as it will constantly remind you of the importance of regular scanning. Unfortunately, Bitdefender Free occasionally has problems when updating its malware definitions which may require a restart or even reinstallation of the program in some cases.
Unfortunately, web threats are so common and dangerous these days, that along with your primary security software, however good it might be, you’ll often need a second opinion. Solutions from Malwarebytes have become de-facto industry standard in this field. The free version has the same detection rate as the commercial one, but it lacks certain advanced options, including a real-time protection. But in this case (for DAW systems), this is actually an advantage, as you want your security programs to have as little impact on system resources as possible. Malwarebytes Free, a successor of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free, was often criticized as a resource hog in comparison to its predecessor, but it seems things have changed for the better lately. The speed of the scanning have also been improved significantly.
This is my main Internet browser since 2001. These days, Firefox certainly isn’t as groundbreaking product as its competition grew exponentially since then. Features that were always cited as Firefox strong points were its large base of addons, browsing innovations, strict following of web standards and the company’s devotion to privacy of their users. As the time went by, this edge has lost its sharpness quite a bit. Also, for a long time, Firefox was outperformed by other browsers (read: Chrome and Opera) in the terms of speed and performance. This was somewhat changed recently with the arrival of new Firefox Quantum engine, that supposedly outpowers Chrome in several areas. However, Mozilla is more and more criticized for its recent moves in the privacy department, which is not a good thing, considering its legacy.
So, even though there are less and less reasons to use Firefox over Chrome or Opera, I still use it as my default browser. I feel that Firefox is more open software than the browsers behind which stands a huge corporation. Also, its GUI is more customizable and I like the clarity of font rendering much better than in other browsers, as well as its integrated read mode.
This is a legendary software that’s been around like forever and was rightfully dubbed as the “Swiss Army Knife”. Indeed, this can play almost everything you throw it, including many somewhat obscure formats. It’s video options are far more extensive than its audio capabilities, so for more serious music listening and cataloguing I recommend AIMP for Windows and / or Poweramp for Android. But VLC is more that competent when I need to quickly audition an audio file, so it’s a default media player on my DAW computer.
My personal choice for backup program. The free version is a professional-grade product that can also be used for commercial purposes, however it lacks some features that are reserved only for paid versions. One of the basic features the free version is missing is the ability to backup files and folders. But to be honest, you can (and you should) backup those without the use of a specialized software like this one. This program however could be a lifesaver if your Windows installation goes corrupt and you’re in the middle of the project. So far, I didn’t had the need to use it’s restore features, and I’m hoping it will stay that way. ;)
A great choice for a file archiver. It is an open source program which run on every popular OS platform and support all the most popular formats. It is quite fast, both in terms of extracting and compressing time. Also the software offers compresion to the native 7z format that can sometimes beat widespread ones like ZIP and RAR, when it comes to compression ratio. The GUI is very functional and flexible, however the appearance of the icons in the toolbar and especially in Windows Explorer is quite dated and it has been like that forever. Fortunately, there are many fantastic themes created by the artists at DeviantArt, which you can apply using the excellent portable tool 7-zip Theme Manager. But refreshing the icons that ship with the program would be most welcome.
In music world, we are frequently working with files that are quite big in size and when managing such files, the speed and flexibility of file transfer built in the OS itself often isn’t up to the task. TeraCopy is the answer to those limitations. Not only it performs basic file operations faster than the OS itself, it support advanced options like queueing of file transfers, pausing the operation, checking the file integrity, shutting down the system when done, etc. There is also a Pro version that has even more options and it can be used for commercial purposes.
The synonymous for cleaning up your computer. It has been available for many years now and is constantly improving in the terms of features and speed of operation. It allow cleaning of leftovers from many popular applications and you can even further expand this big list by using a 3rd party tool called CCEnhancer. CCleaner is a reliable software that mostly does what it says on the tin and typically don’t cause any problems. However, there were some issues lately that had somewhat jeopardized its reputation. In one recent version, there was some kind of malware in its official installer. The irony is that this had happened after Piriform, the company behind CCleaner, had been acquired by Avast, which produces one of the most popular antivirus programs out there. Of course, they’ve reacted promptly and quickly removed the said version from the circulation. It shouldn’t happen in the first place, but ***t can happen to anyone.