5 Must-have Free Windows 7 Utilities

I was speaking with my future sister-in-law over the weekend and she was complaining about her laptop running Windows (s msft) Vista. She asked me if Windows 7 was better and I quickly realized I was gushing about it. Windows 7 (as I told her) is easily the best version of Windows and I recommended she upgrade her laptop if proper drivers are available. I also realized there are some utilities I use on every Windows 7 system I test, and I recommended them, too. Here are my top 5 Windows 7 utilities.

Microsoft Security Essentials. A good anti-virus/spyware utility is a must on Windows 7, and I like Microsoft’s latest free product. I have used other free products in the past, AVG and McAfee in particular, but I find Microsoft’s Security Essentials is easier to install on new systems and uses less system resources than any other.

Rocketdock. I use a lot of Windows systems with limited screen real estate, and the free Rocketdock is a good way to have one-click access to the programs I use the most. Rocketdock is fully configurable, and can be positioned on any edge of the screen preferred. It’s simple and indispensable once installed. And it’s the utility I am most asked about when showing off a system with it installed.

Batterybar. I only use portable computers, and keeping an eye on battery performance is critical. Batterybar is a free meter (paid version available) that sits in the taskbar and shows the battery gauge. It also tracks lots of stats about the battery performance, and over time is extremely accurate.

CCleaner. Windows 7 requires housekeeping, just like all the versions before it, if you want to keep it humming along nicely. CCleaner is a free utility that keeps the pesky Windows registry lean and mean, along with clearing out the jump web browsers leave behind.

Wireless Network Meter. Desktop gadgets were introduced with Windows Vista, and Windows 7 carries on the tradition. I live my work life online, so keeping an eye on the network performance is useful. Wireless Network Meter monitors the network bandwidth in real time. It provides useful network information to make sure hotspots are secure.