Jul 10, 2018 Latest software reviews, specification match up, price comparisons, editor and user ratings from PCMag.com. Previously known as PC Magazine. The operating system (OS) allows users to perform the basic functions of a computer. The OS manages all software and peripheral hardware, and accesses the central processing unit (CPU) for memory or storage purposes. It also makes it possible for a system to simultaneously run applications.
I’ve long recommended the free as your one-stop shop for desktop applications. Simply click on the applications you want and Ninite will download the latest version, absolutely free of crapware, install them, and leave you in the driver’s seat. As we went to press, Ninite supported 87 different Windows programs ( in the paid version, $50 per month for up to 25 machines). The beauty of the Ninite approach? Each app is a click away: no fuss, no nags, no charge. It’s the best way I know to install a bunch of good programs on a new machine in minutes. The downside?
It misses a few of my favorites—and it doesn’t touch UWP/Windows Store “Metro” apps. I used to recommend Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) for ensuring that installed programs are up-to-date. I’ve switched to Ninite’s $10-per-year. It works better. While you can manually run the free Ninite anytime and the latest versions of your apps get installed, Ninite Updater proactively watches your installed programs and warns of any available updates.
Ninite Updater even works with programs that you installed manually—as long as they’re among the apps. Unless you’re attached to a corporate network with a well-managed Update Server, Win10 will give you all of Microsoft’s patches, according to Microsoft’s schedule. You can usually keep the reboot limited to a time when you aren’t working, but the patches come whether you want ’em or not. Worse, if you uninstall a patch, every time you reboot or log on again, the same patch comes barreling at your machine. It’s like Sisyphus 10.0. As long as Microsoft’s patches, that’s great.
But the minute there’s a problem—a faulty driver, a cumulative update that refuses to install, a conflict between the patch and one of your programs—forced updating can cause mayhem. Fortunately, Microsoft has a program that allows you to block and hide specific updates. Wushowhide, known by its cryptic Knowledge Base number KB 307930, scans to see which updates are pending and lets you hide individual updates. To use it, head over to, then download and stick wushowhide.diagcab on your machine.
Next, follow these steps precisely: 1. Run wushowhide.diacab.
This part’s important: Click the link marked Advanced. Uncheck the box marked 'Apply repairs automatically.' Wushowhide will run for a long time.
When it comes back up for air, click the link to Hide Updates. You see a list like the one in the screenshot. Check the update(s) you want to avoid, click Next, then Next again. The chosen patch(es) won’t be installed, until you go back and uncheck it. Depending on your version of Win10, you may have options to slow down updates. No matter what Win10 says, this tool will block an update dead in its tracks—but watch out. Old Ms Paint there. If Microsoft releases a new version of a patch, it’ll switch off the “hidden” checkmark, so you have to go back and hide it again.
I’m forever amazed at how many Win10 users don’t know they can keep full, incremental, accessible copies of their files with a couple of clicks using a utility that ships with Windows. Once enabled, Win10’s File History takes snapshots of your files, allowing you to go back to older versions with a right-click. You need a second hard drive—internal, external, or over a network—with enough free space to store your backups. Click Start >Settings >Update & Security >Backup. If “Back up using File History” isn’t set up yet, click the button marked Add a Drive to specify your target backup drive.
After the first run, you see the “Automatically back up my files” slider (screenshot), which automatically backs up all the files in your User folder. You can click on More Options to add more folders.
After that, backups happen automagically. To bring back an old version, go to File Explorer, right-click a file, and choose Properties >Previous Versions. You can get to versions of the files made long, long ago. Every desktop user needs.
While Win10 File Explorer now has the ability to look inside ISO and other kinds of compressed files, Explorer still doesn’t support RAR compressed files or MSU Windows installer files (screenshot). 7-Zip also creates password-protected Zip files, as well as self-extracting Zips. You don’t need to register or pay for 7-Zip. Don’t fall for a website with a similar name.
To get the real, original, and only free 7-Zip, with a crapware-free installer, go to or, better, get it from Ninite. There’s support on the. Make sure you get the desktop version; UWP/Windows Store programs with similar names aren’t the same. Free for everybody.
File undelete has been a mainstay PC utility since DOS. But there's no better undeleter than (pronounced 'recover'): fast, thorough, free. When you empty the Windows Recycle Bin, files aren't destroyed; rather, the space they occupy is earmarked for new data. If you delete files on a USB drive (screenshot) or an SD card, they’re treated similarly, without the Recycle Bin as a safeguard.
If you delete files on an SD card using a phone or tablet, heaven help ya! That’s where Recuva (free for personal use, $35 each for ) comes in. Undelete routines scan the flotsam and put the pieces back together. As long as you haven't added new data to a drive, undelete (almost) always works; if you've added some data, there's still a good chance you can get back most of the deleted stuff. With more than a dozen competing tools available for examining the innards of your machine, coming up with the “best” revolves around what you need and what you expect. I’ve long recommended and, but of late I’ve settled on (free for everybody).