I've included a 'Geek factor' so my friends who don't like reading instructions, or setting options can decide if they want to try any of these. Low means it will be easy to use 'out of the box' - might be more difficult to do everything it offers. High is for software that probably requires experience using utility or test software or customizing your computer.
My Programs for Computer Maintenance
Clean, defrag, check, and backup. That's it. I use Ccleaner (Downloads) to delete temporary files and junk. I use MyDefrag (Downloads) to defragment my hard drive so it will run fast. To check the intregrity of the drives, I use the built-in CHKDSK utility in Windows to test and repair any hard drive problems. For backing up my system and personal files (on separate partitions), I use Acronis True Image (about $50 but search Gizmo's freeware for discounts) to make regular "IMAGE" backups. For daily personal file backup, I use Windows 7 RoboCopy (Downloads page) in a script to back up all my personal folders to an external drive.
I hate to admit that for security I now use Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) and the Windows Firewall, because they do the job - I practice "safe Internet" and don't need more. You may. Occasionally I run the MSE scan mode and TrendMicro Housecall to check for malware. The best online security is to use Firefox browser with addons NoScript, Cookie Monster, Better Privacy, Adblock Plus, and LastPass. In my wireless router, I set up WEP wireless security and password. That's all - and only Acronis True Image was purchased - everything else came with Windows or was free.
IRFANVIEW (file viewer)
AGENT RANSACK (file search utility)
STARTUP MONITOR (security utility)
Classic Shell for Win7
XENU's LINK SLEUTH (web utility)
SKYPE INTERNET PHONE
BEST WINDOWS HELP NEWSLETTERS
To make the most of your computer and your time online, you should try out at least one of these useful newsletters. They are spam-free (you pay a fee, or they use advertising). These are popular and have been helping people for years.
The Langa Letter newsletter (www.langa.com) and the Support Alert Newsletter (techsupportalert.com) merged with WindowsSecrets.com, which is now one of the best sources of information about Internet and computers. A "Plus" edition is well worth the small extra fee but you get important security notices with either. Weekly email. Geek factor: medium
Neat Net Tricks
NeatNetTricks.com (fee) - Email newsletter always has useful software, Windows tricks and Internet resources one can use without being a technical whiz. Geek factor: low
TourbusInternetTourbus.com Still one of the best, has information on searching, spam, cookies, and fun stuff too. Easy to read with a dash of humour. Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispin rock! Geek factor: low
You can copy the files from 32,000 floppy discs or 9 DVDs to fill up a dual-sided Blu-Ray disc - 45 to 50 GB (8 hours of HD video). Most of us are still using standard DVDs which store 5 GB.