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Five free Windows 10 utilities that do not require installation

Some of my favorite programs for performing computer diagnostics are the kind that you just download and run. These applications are simple to use and can be deleted when I am finished with them. So here are some of my favorite portable programs for Windows 10.

Five free Windows 10 utilities that do not require installation

Since I repair computers for a living, I use many different programs during my typical workday. Most of them I can store on USB drives for quick access.

But there are some programs that I like to download before I use them, as they are portable applications and do not require installation. Since they do not get installed, the only way to get the latest updated version is by downloading them.

Some of these programs have time stamps on them and will expire after a certain amount of time. So downloading them when I need them makes the most sense. The hardest thing about downloading them is remembering where you saved them.

All of the applications mentioned in this are article can run on any version of Windows currently supported by Microsoft. And the best thing of all is that they all are free to use.

CPU-Z

Portable program - CPU-Z

This is a convenient utility that displays the details of the installed processor, motherboard, memory, and graphics card in any given computer. This way, you do not have to disassemble a computer to determine what components it has installed.

CPU-Z comes in handy when you are looking to add or upgrade your computer's memory modules. I use it when a customer wants to upgrade the installed memory, as it displays the exact part number of all of the installed memory modules.

There are portable (ZIP) and installable (EXE) versions of CPU-Z and versions customized for particular motherboard vendors. If you are going to use CPU-Z to measure system performance between different BIOS settings, the installed version may be the best bet.

But if you are only going to run it a couple of times, then the stand-alone version will work quite well. All you have to do is extract the files inside of the ZIP archive, and you are ready to go.

For more information on CPU-Z, just follow the link below.

CPU-Z

Advanced IP Scanner

Portable program - Advanced IP Scanner

Have you ever added a new device to your network and then could not find it? That is where Advanced IP Scanner comes in handy. It can scan your network and find network devices, shared folders, and shared printers. You can even use it to access other network computers remotely.

Advanced IP Scanner can be installed or run as a stand-alone program. When you download the program, it comes as an EXE file. When executing it, you have the option of installing it or just running it.

If you are only going to use it a couple of times, then the stand-alone version will work. If you are going to use it regularly, you may want to perform a complete installation.

For more information on the Advanced IP Scanner, follow the link below.

Advanced IP Scanner

Adwcleaner

Portable program - Adwcleaner

This is by far my favorite tool for cleaning up Internet browsers. Just download and run Adwcleaner to remove adware and PUPs (Probably Unwanted Program) from your favorite browser.

Unlike the rest of the programs in this article, when Adwcleaner downloads its latest database, it also checks for a new version of itself. It will download an updated version but does not remove the previous version. It has to be removed manually.

Besides cleaning up browsers, it will also clean up and reset the TCP/IP network stack back to the default settings. And if you only need to run it a couple of times, it can delete itself and all of its quarantine files.

For more information on Adwcleaner, follow the link below.

Adwcleaner

Microsoft Safety Scanner

Portable program - Microsoft Safety Scanner

When it comes to scanning for viruses and malware, Microsoft's Safety Scanner is a powerful utility. Even though the user interface is kind of sparse, the true power is built into it.

Since this program is updated on a pretty regular basis, you will defiantly want to download it when you are ready to perform a scan. Keep in mind that this program is date stamped and will run only for ten (10) days after it was downloaded.

There are only a couple of choices regarding the types of scans it will perform; Quick, Full, or Customized. Be warned that if you choose a full scan, it can take hours or even days to complete, depending on how much data your drive(s) contains.

Remember that the Microsoft Safety Scanner is for manually scanning for malware and viruses and does not replace the need for a full-time anti-virus program.

For more information on Microsoft's Safety Scanner, follow the link below.

Microsoft Safety Scanner

Sysinternals Suite

Portable program - Sysinternals Suite

With over seventy utilities, Microsoft's Sysinternals Suite has the most extensive set of diagnostics tools. Sysinternals have been around for more than two decades and have become a staple in computer technicians' toolbox.

Every single program in the suite is a stand-alone program and does not require installation. You can download the complete suite of utilities in a single ZIP file or a single utility separately; it is your choice.

Now you have to remember that the Sysinternals Suite does not automatically update any of its programs. But there are script files out there that can download updated files.

There is also the Sysinternals Live service that allows you to run the tools directly from the web. That way, you will always have the latest and greatest version of any of the utilities.

For more information on Microsoft's Sysinternals Suite, follow the link below.

Sysinternals Suite

My digital toolbox

Every computer repair technician has a digital toolbox, more than likely several. They are either on a CD / DVD or USB drive and contain programs that we use regularly. Here are a few of the programs that I have in my digital toolbox.

My Digital Toolbox

All of the following programs have one thing in common; they don't require installation. Just right-click on them in File Explorer and select Run as administrator, that's it. Some of the programs may require access to the Internet for complete functionality.

AdwCleaner

AdwCleaner is one of the best stand-alone adware removal tools I have found yet. Right out of the box, and it will scan your system with a generic set of definitions. But if you are connected to the Internet before you start up AdwCleaner, it will download a current copy of adware definitions. And if you select uninstall, it will remove any quarantined files and then delete itself.

AdwCleaner

.NET Framework Cleanup Tool

When it comes to resolving .NET problems, you are sometimes better off just removing and reinstalling the framework. The .NET Framework Cleanup Tool is a stand-alone program that does just what its name implies. Just pick the version you wish to remove (or all) and click Cleanup Now. Once it is complete, reboot and use Windows Update to reinstall whatever version of .net framework you need.

.NET Framework Cleanup Tool

Sysinternals Suite

Sysinternals is hands down, the best collection of Windows troubleshooting tools. All of them are stand-alone programs, over 70 altogether from seeing everything that automatically starts up with Autoruns, exploring running processes with Process Explorer, or monitoring network usage with TCPView. When it comes to Windows diagnostics, you cannot beat the Sysinternals Suite.

Sysinternals Suite

Running your old version of Windows XP in a Virtual Machine

If you haven't heard by now, Windows XP has come to the end of its life. After April 8th, 2014, Microsoft will no longer support Windows XP, which means no more security patches or hotfixes. Using Windows XP as a primary operating system is no longer an option. But you can still use your old version of Windows XP and the installed programs on a newer version of Windows using a Virtual Machine (VM).

A physical to virtual migrated version of Windows XP inside of VirtualBox running on Windows 8
A physical-to-virtual migrated version of Windows XP inside of VirtualBox running on Windows 8

The problem most people are having with going to a new version of Windows is that they have software installed on Windows XP that they cannot install or will not run on a more recent version of Windows. Either the software came pre-loaded, they lost the installation media, or the company went out of business. If you're one of these people, there is hope.

I've written a few times about using VM's to run different operating systems on the same computer. You create a virtual hard drive and install your operating system inside of it. You can also create a virtual hard drive from your physical hard drive. This way, you can upgrade to a newer version of Windows and still access your old Windows XP programs.

Note: With the change of hardware from physical-to-virtual, Windows will need to be re-activated. Physical-to-virtual hard drive migration of a Windows installation is a valid function for customers with full retail copies of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

To do this, you will need two programs, Microsoft's Windows Sysinternals Disk2vhd and Oracle's VirtualBox. Both programs are free for personal use, and the links to the software are below. The first thing to do is create a virtual hard drive from your existing physical hard drive. Startup Disk2vhd, and you get only a straightforward menu. Select 'Prepare for use in Virtual PC' and 'Use Volume Shadow Copy' and deselect 'Use Vhdx'. Next, select the location for the virtual hard drive file. For the best performance, you should create the virtual hard drive on a different physical drive (network or external).

The Disk2vhd main screen with options
The Disk2vhd main screen with options

Now it's time to install VirtualBox on the new system. Remember also to download and install the VirtualBox Guest Extensions. Once installed, copy over the virtual hard drive you created with Disk2vhd. Next, you create a new VM with settings (operating system, memory, etc.) based on your old computer. You then will be prompted to create a new virtual drive or use an existing one. Browse and select the virtual drive that you created.

Modified boot menu in physical to virtual migrated version of Windows XP
Modified boot menu in physical to virtual migrated version of Windows XP

The first time you start the VM, it will find the new VM hardware and try to install drivers for them. If it fails to find drivers, just go to the 'Devices' tab on the top menu and select 'Insert Guest Additions CD image'. Open Windows Explorer and browse to the virtual drive named VBOXADDITIONS and run VBoxWindowsAdditions. This will install the keyboard, video, and mouse drivers. You will have to tweak the settings to get it run flawlessly. If you're migrating a version of Windows XP, I recommend disabling access to the internet since there are no longer security updates and patches for Windows XP after 4/8/14.

For more information on VirtualBox or Disk2vhd, just follow the links below.

Oracle VM VirtualBox
Sysinternals Disk2vhd

Troubleshoot your computer and more for free with Sysinternals Suite from Microsoft

Have you ever wanted to see what programs start up when your computer boots? Or maybe defrag your pagefile? Or how about finding out what files, registry keys, etc., are currently open? You can do all this and more for free with Sysinternals Suite by Mark Russinovicha and from Microsoft.

The Autoruns program from the Sysinternals Suite
The Autoruns program from the Sysinternals Suite

Sysinternals Suite is a collection of handy utilities for Windows. I have been using them since Windows 95. From an everyday user to a computer repair technician, there is something here for you. There are currently over seventy utilities included in the Sysinternals Suite.

The Process Explorer program from the Sysinternals Suite
The Process Explorer program from the Sysinternals Suite

For the everyday user, there is Autoruns, Desktops, and PageDefrag. With Autoruns, you can see what programs are configured to start when your system boots automatically. Desktops allow you to create up to four virtual desktops and switch in between them. And with PageDefrag, you can defragment your pagefile and registry.

The TCPView program from the Sysinternals Suite
The TCPView program from the Sysinternals Suite

For the computer repair technician, there is Process Explorer, Process Monitor, and TCPView. With Process Explorer, you can see what files and folders a program has open. Process Monitor is a real-time monitoring tool that provides detailed information (PID's, path, etc.) for files, registry, and processes. And TCPView gives you a detailed listing of all network endpoints, local and remote, with addresses and port numbers.

For more information on Sysinternals Suite and all of the free utilities included, follow the links below.

Sysinternals Suite

Sysinternals Utilities Index

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