1. NZXT CAM
Billed as a complete PC monitoring solution, NZXT CAM allows you to keep an eye on CPU and GPU temperatures, overclock your GPU, and keep tabs on your in-game performance – frames per second (FPS).
The UI is clean and straightforward and has standard and mini versions. You can also choose a custom accent color. If you choose to, you can create a free online account that will give you some data storage options, but you can stay with a local account if signing up is not your thing.
2. Core Temp
Core Temp allows you to monitor your CPU temperature in real-time by displaying the temperatures for each CPU core. It shows you your CPU frequency and CPU load, plus the distance to TjMax. We like Core Temp because you can set it once to always display in the Windows taskbar, and you needn’t touch or manually open the app again.
You can change the color of the text that is shown in the taskbar. In our example, we chose black for the core temperatures and blue for the frequency. You can also customize the colors for any hot or critical temperatures and display temps in Celsius or Fahrenheit. If CPU overclocking is your thing, or you live in a particularly hot area, or you just like to know how warm your PC is running, Core Temp is a great Windows tool.
Microsoft To-Do is a friendly little to-do list app for Windows, Android, and iOS. It’s originally from the team behind Wunderlist – a to-do list app that Microsoft acquired back in 2015. With it, you can choose My Day or To-Do tabs to make a list of things to do. Just make sure you do them! Microsoft To-do syncs nicely between devices, so you can keep catching up with tasks and doing things on the move.
As mentioned in Computer maintenance, the very popular CCleaner is a quick-and-easy way to remove the trash on your PC and create more space on your drive. It’s one of the first free third-party go-to maintenance tools to use to keep your Windows 10 device clean.
QTranslate is a free translator utility for Windows (XP/Vista/7/8/10). Simply choose a language, type, or paste text you’d like to translate and hit the translate button. You can toggle back and forth between translations. You can also perform a dictionary search and have the text read out loud. If that’s not enough, you can make QTranslate use either Google Translate, Bing Translator, Promt, Babylon, DeepL, SDL FreeTranslation, Yandex, youdao, Baidu, or Naver as your translate service of choice. (Internet connection required.)
6. Patch My PC Updater
Patch My PC Updater is a free Windows app, which quickly checks the apps on your PC and tells you which ones need updating. You can set it to download updates and install them automatically, behind the scenes. Patch My PC Updater can also uninstall apps with its built-in app uninstaller.
WinDirStat lets you see which files and file types are taking up what space and where. These types of apps are especially useful if you’d like to have more disk space, and you can, therefore, consider which apps or files can be uninstalled or removed.
8. TreeSize Free
TreeSize Free also lets you analyze the disk space on your PC hard drive. Again, useful for understanding which files are taking up more space.
9. VLC media player
VLC media player – (recently updated to 3.0.1) is a well-known, free, and open-source media player. VLC is popular for its ability to be able to play many multimedia file types, including Blu-Ray (which Windows 10 can’t play out of the box), 360 video and audio, Chromecast streaming, and 4K and 8K playback. It comes with enough audio and video codecs, so you should be able to play most typical audio and video files, which you might find online. If you want DVD playback, download the desktop version (linked above) from videolan.org, and not the version from the Microsoft Store. (And if you did want more codecs for various other files, see K-Lite Codec pack.) Go here for other Audio players for Windows.
CPU-Z gives you lots of information about your system, including real-time monitoring of CPU and memory frequencies (speeds). CPU-Z is often used by overclockers who are trying to get the most efficient or maximum performance from their CPUs.
Do you remember the Windows Experience Index from Windows 7 (and introduced in Windows Vista)? It was a hardware scanner that ran a series of hardware tests and then gave you a performance score to help you better gauge your computer’s capabilities.
The Windows Experience Index is still calculated but doesn’t show in Windows 10 (or Windows 8.1). However, the third-party app ExperienceIndexOK brings it back again (and it looks almost the same). ExperienceIndexOK doesn’t get installed. You can just download it and run it.
12. Network Speed Test
Network Speed Test is a quick and simple-to-use app for checking your internet connection speed. It’s available from the Microsoft Store, and Microsoft Research makes it, so you know it’s a decent app.
13. SUMo (Software Updates Monitor)
SUMo is another free app updater for Windows. It lists the apps and drivers on your PC and lets you know which ones are out of date. Any major updates are listed in red, for example, a web browser security or vulnerability update.
If you find yourself unable to open any archive files within Windows, like a zip file or .rar file, then 7-Zip is the app for you. 7-Zip can work with many archive file types, and it also compresses and archives files at a high compression to create nice small archive file sizes. (In regards to zip files or archives, less advanced computer users should be careful not to download and open any zip files at random – especially via email.)
Eraser is a free security tool for Windows 10, 8, 7, and XP, which allows you to remove data from your hard drive by overwriting it many times with carefully selected patterns. Safely removing data can come in especially useful if you’re selling a PC, and you’d like to make sure that your data has been removed forever or is unrecoverable.
16. Office Suites
Office suites are a useful tool for Windows 10, too. With that in mind, I’ve included this category here, but please see the Free office suites for Windows page, to peruse the different and popular free office suite options.
RealTemp is a CPU temperature monitoring program for Intel single Core, Dual Core, Quad-Core, and Core i7 processors. RealTemp sits down in the taskbar by the clock, and you can monitor your CPU core temperatures in real-time, giving you an idea of your PC’s cooling efficiency or the CPU workload. Please see Core Temp (above).
Rufus is a quick and easy-to-use app for creating a bootable USB drive. I use it whenever I want to download and cleanly install the latest full version of Windows.
AIDA64 lists the different components of your PC. If you’re curious about things like what CPU you have or who makes your video chip, then try AIDA64.
Speccy is one of the best and original apps for checking to see what’s inside your PC. As the name suggests, if you need to know your hardware `specs’ – look no further. Speccy gives you detailed information on every piece of hardware in your computer, including real-time running temperatures. Speccy is made by Lavasoft, the same team which brought us CCleaner.
22. The PC Decrapifier
The chances are that your lovely new PC or Windows device has come with some built-in bloatware designed to benefit the manufacturer more than the end-user. This bloatware can trigger unnecessary startup items that can slow down your PC. The PC Decrapifier is a free tool that helps remove these programs and unnecessary startup items. It takes you step-by-step, giving you recommendations on what bloatware apps to remove, many of which can be removed unattended. It has a rather unfortunate name, in my opinion, but it gets the job done.
These are some of the practical tools for Windows that people like to use. We’ll be sure to add some more. If you’re looking for all types of software, check out the Windows Store, or for freeware, try FileHippo.
Grant is the webmaster here and a longtime computer enthusiast. He enjoys building new PCs and fixing old ones. Originally from the UK, Grant lives in Japan, teaches English, and is a part-time vegetable farmer. Lesser-known history about him includes getting his Commercial Helicopter License CPL(H) in the US and being a caregiver in the disabled community. Grant enjoys playing Apex Legends.