Software Worth Paying For

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DoktorThomas™

Kudos for discovering LastPass.

Prey is a nice recommendation for those who like to use "half-desktops at twice the price" ("laptops" for the publicly educated).

Unfortunately TurbidTax™ from not-Intuit™ is a necessary evil. Be fore warned that a response to a question or a blank is far from the whole story when doing US taxes (this is the primary reason your CPA is marginally competent). While TuribTax™ will get you through, one still needs to know what the question really asks and what it does not. Be prepared for annual price increases and tons of up dates.

Pass on the rest save for the Adobe After Effects. Save dough, buy previous versions. Adobe is another floundering giant big enough to fail.

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Angstromm

If you venture into forum-land (see url below) and read about TotalMedia you'll discover a theme: for the last year or two TotalMedia is for many users a TotalDrag. Why, you ask? Well, after installing SSD drives and paring down boot times on all my PCs and laptops to the 20 second range, ArcSoft had the temerity to design in a function that drags boot times out by as much as 10x normal boot times! Mine are hovering around 3-minutes. Yikes!

www.arcsoft.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=11050&PN=1&title=tmt6-causes-long-boot-times

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daardvark

Good work on the list. I agree with some and disagree with some. I was never a fan of the Start button, but my move to Win8 showed me one way NOT to improve it...delete. I really like the Start screen when I am doing tablet stuff and prefer the tiled ie10. But I use a lot of desktop apps so I am on the desktop a lot. After reading this I decided to buy ObjectDock for $20. Seems it is now $50. At $20 I was willing to try, but to find it more than double...well I didn't buy. It makes me question all the listed prices.

Great discussion from the readers. I chose to give Winstep Nexus 12.2 a try instead. If it works, I will buy at $25.

And for what it is worth, I use GoToMeeting to record demonstrations, presentations, and trouble shooting all the time. It works great with multiple monitors and allows me to bring in other people/computers so I don't have to be the person with the installed software. Very flexible and as a bonus, it can be used as an online meeting tool.

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blue-cat

I disagree with your verdict about the box. From a paid perspective box may seem superior to dropbox but for a free, home user, dropbox is far superior and considering the different approaches I believe dropbox's approach is more effective.

From what I can gather box operates solely on the cloud with users uploading files and tweaking ith them up in the cloud. This is great for simulataneous editing in businesses and offers alot more options for security as a result but for a home user the appeal of online storage is simplicity. To have a folder with drag and drop usability akin to windows explorer is much better. And there is no limit on the file size. You mention that the free version is larger but it is very easy to earn more space in dropbox very quickly even without referrals with most users outstripping the 5Gb within a couple of weeks.

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illusionslayer

I wish each of the categories you denoted with a nice space wasting font size were actual categories rather than a redundant descriptions of single applications.

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Chewieshmoo

WinStep Nexus I use personally as a great FREE option to
ObjectDock!

FREE VERSION IS WHAT I USE AND JUST FINE:

http://www.winstep.net/nexus.asp

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avenger48

Another great option I found is RocketDock. It's freeware and seems to do a great job. I use it for an autohiding bar at the top of my desktop with all of my games. It's easier to find the one I'm looking for that way vs going through the Windows 7 Games folder.

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tetris42

Winstep Nexus is kind of in the same camp as Objectdock. They both have free versions and they both have paid versions with more features. In my opinion, they both have different strengths and weaknesses, I've been going back and forth between them trying to settle on one.

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gmvolk

If it's worth anything, Winsteps support is awesome even with the free version. One of the updates borked something, emailed support and the creator, Jorge or George sorry can't remember which, worked with me on the issue and had it fixed the next day. Bought a product from Stardock, not Objectdock, asked them for help and their response, paraphrased "stop bothering us, here's your money back". The paid version of Winstep did not seem to add anything I would want, but they do have a trial version of it.

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tetris42

I've had a different experience. I reported about how always-on-top mode will appear on top even during fullscreen flash videos (like Youtube) with no option to disable that without changing the z-order of everything. This is something both Windows taskbar and Objectdock already handles properly. I did get a response and there was an exchange, but the short version came down to "will not fix" saying having the dock stay on top EXCEPT in fullscreen flash videos was "trying to have my cake and eat it too." He later apologized, so I guess that's kudos for communication, but that doesn't fix the problem.

On the flipside, Objectdock has some bugs and hasn't been updated since 2010, which is kind of disgraceful.

My issues with Winstep Nexus:
-Z order bug (discussed above)
-Some applications simply won't show up on it (but do in OD / taskbar)

My issues with Objectdock:
-In some programs (Adobe stuff in particular) sometimes when I click on the icon, NOTHING happens, I have to click repeatedly until it "wakes up"

They both may seem minor, but when you try to replace the taskbar and encounter the same problem a dozen times a day, it gets frustrating.

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gmvolk

I don't see the problem with fullscreen flash videos. I have it set to "prevent max windows from overlapping" and "same as other windows" on the position tab. This is on my XP box at work, and I am using v12.2 of the free version. I stopped using it on my Win 7 at home and just went back to windows taskbar, but I don't recall seeing your issue there when I did use it.

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tetris42

Try setting the z-order of the dock to "always on top", then do a full screen flash video.

Normally I like the dock on top of everything EXCEPT during fullscreen applications.

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gmvolk

I don't see a setting for the z-order, but with the settings I use, the dock is on top for everything except fullscreen apps, ie Hulu Desktop, Remote desktop, youtube, etc. I remember playing around with the settings quite a bit because of the very reason you describe and this way I was able to have it on top, but not when I did not want it on top.

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Nixon

Maybe FL Studios 10 can slip in there somewhere too? About the only proper program for making decent music without having to learn a absurd amount. Instead you pay a absurd amount for plugins and sound packs.

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vectorizer

Adobe Premiere and Sony Vegas are pro video editors that both have much lower-priced consumer versions (~$50-80) that leave out almost nothing a non-pro would need. Unless you're really a pro working with serious cameras (in which case you wouldn't take your advice from MaxPC anyway), go for Premiere Elements or Sony Movie Studio and save yourself >$600.

You can also download Sony Movie Studio (or Vegas) and try it for free for 30 days. (Not sure about Adobe, but probably them too.) I personally like Sony video and audio software better than Adobe, but Adobe is more popular.

Agree with paying for Fraps. Make sure you have a large fast hard drive because it can only do minimum video compression in real time. Though Fraps is touted for game capture, it works just as well capturing normal Windows desktop ... with a decent video editor like the above, you can probably avoid paying $300 for Camtasia.

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Brad1011a

I would add MediaMonkey ($25).

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Meat_Juice

Rocketdock is free and every bit as good as Objectdock.

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tetris42

Rocketdock can't replace the taskbar the way OD can. All it has is the "minimize window" function which is only a half-baked solution.

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bautrey

Display Fusion is the most worthwhile program that I've paid for. Its just wonderful.

I will definitely be trying out the free 6 months of office 365 once my office 2013 preview expires.

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jonnyohio

DAPlayer is a freeware player that supposedly plays blue ray....I have not tried it but others say it works...some report problems playing some of theirs though, but, hey, it's free.

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gothliciouz

can anyone recommend a free software similar to lightroom?..and a virtual desktop software?

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jgottberg

I'd recommend VMWare Player or VirtualBox. I've used just about all of them and like these two and between the two, would lean towards VMWare.

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dracx619

i hear good things about photoscape. its like a plain lightroom from the looks of it

http://www.photoscape.org/ps/main/index.php

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DoctorX

you compare excel to openoffice... openoffice is stale and been left behind 2-3 years ago.. If you are going to be fair, compare LibreOffice. the lastest version is ever bit as good as excel, and probably better than 98% of the uses.

I actually have office 2013 free with work, and i use libreoffice because it is lighter and does everything I need it to.

I think you should have put more thought into this article.

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DoctorX

postbox is just a repackaged Thunderbird.... fail.

Thunderbird is good and free.

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aarcane

Your box link is broken

iTunes and Windows Media Player both suck. Winamp is a far superior option, though still pretty far from perfect. You can definitely find better if you bother to do the research.

crashplan looks nice. Kudos for picking a solution that supports Linux for a change! What I can't find is any documentation as to what sort of integrity verification they provide, do they use block level checksumming or do any verification on their end after the backup has completed? I hope so, but I can't find it on their website..

Other than that, wonderfully expensive article with a half dozen good options!

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Carlidan

I don't know what happen when I used tera copy, but when I copied 500GB of movie files to another drives, it somehow screwed up. Instead of making an extact copy from one drive to another. It collapsed all folders into one folder. Example: Four folders with four different movies. 1. swordfish 2. matrix 3. matrix 2 4. matrix 3. Teracopy copied files like this. In swordfish folder, all three matrix folder will be inside the swordfish folder. Weird, but it happened. So i stopped using it.

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blue-cat

I also had a nightmare with TeraCopy. I was adding a new drive to my system so thought I would have a clean up in the process. I used teracopy to copy 500GB of music and photos and user data to a 1tb drive and then checked the 2 500GB drives for errors and formatted them. I then used teracopy to copy the information back but despite adding some of the photos folders it haad not actually copied the photos. I lost every single photo I had taken or collected from my school days. Fortunately I found a portion of them on my old eMac or on social networks but TeraCopy will be forever in my banlist for making my life less easy.

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fung0

I've also had mysterious issues with Teracopy. What's more, it's missing many features I'd really like to see, and doesn't seem to be getting any significant updates any more. I was on the verge of buying it many months ago... but the lack of development makes me less and less tempted as time goes on.

By the way, for organizing your Windows screen, by far the best option is Zmover, $20 from Basta.com. Forget weird and arbitrary grids and 'fences'... Zmover just remembers windows by name and snaps them automatically, anywhere you like, on multiple monitors. Windows can be maximized, minimized, as well as brought to the front or forced to the back - the latter option being very handy for status dialogs that you don't look at much. Zmover also does other nice things like saving your desktop icon layout. And, unlike Teracopy, it's seen fairly regular feature updates over the past few years.

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TsunamiZ

you should report such issues to the developers for fixing

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Cy-Kill

'We’re huge fans of freeware at Maximum PC.'

If you're such huge fans of freeware, why'd you get rid of "Freeware Files"!

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TheMurph

Seriously.  ;)

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Vecna6667

I've been hearing about DxTory. Most of the people I've heard use it say that it is even better than Fraps at recording and it can even stream live video while recording.

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Tedster

been using connectify forever, and it used to be free. sad that they moved to a lite-pro model.

Also, another good app is PDAnet, one of the best tethering apps available.

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Sparx10

<3 PdaNet

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spazimspaz

Lightworks offers a free service which still rocks. You mentioned Openoffice VS Excel but no Libre office which natively offers to save in docx format.

Is there a PDF creator thats nearly on the same level as Acrobat?

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fung0

If simply creating PDFs is what you're talking about, I've had great results with the free PDFcreator. Between that and Sumatra for viewing, I'd never install the bloated, intrusive Acrobat again.

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Thoren

Rocketdock is free and does everything that ObjectDock does. http://rocketdock.com/

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tetris42

No it doesn't. It can't replace the taskbar the way Objectdock can.

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yakmayar

Couldn't agree more. Rocketdock is fantastic. I use it on all PC's.

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Paladin25

The problem is that MaxPC has COVERED Rocketdock before I think they were really trying to stretch it with this list, or a few advertising dollars passed hands. http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/how_to_customize_and_streamline_your_windows_desktop

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Paladin25

MSI Afterburner is better in my opinion than Fraps.

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Jedi_Gill

Actually the King of recording in my opinion is DXTory.

It can record at 60 frames per second without slowing down your framerate to the video speed like fraps does. Not only that but you can seperate different audio channels, so teamspeak, game sound, and microphone can be edited later. And the best part is runs in raw mode where you can span the recorded data across seperate discs for maximum speed without a bottleneck and low cpu load.. I've tried them all you really can't beat DXtory.

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