It takes a special kind of finesse to manipulate the various files scattered across your system like Minority Report’s John Anderton. Was there only a piece of freeware that allowed one to transform one’s monitor into a touchscreen for such a purpose.
But I digress. I’m not referring to the actual means of tossing files around with one’s hands. Rather, I’m just trying to use a metaphor to illustrate the fluid-like motion that some people have with their systems: files, commands, and folders flinging all around the place like a robot on speed. Not many people have this kind of mastery over their file systems; In fact, I’ve only met one person who’s ever been able to display such rapid synchronizations of keyboard and mouse to organize one’s files.
What am I getting at? It’s tough to be a whiz of file management. Which is exactly why a number of freeware and open-source applications look to automate or otherwise enhance your ability to interact and arrange the very data strewn about on your PC. From applications that automatically delete files and folders at a given time, to apps that allow you to copy complex directory structures sans files, to apps that turn your folders into automated image resizing machines… there’s an app for seemingly anything you want to do with your PC’s files.
I’ve picked out five general apps that are must-haves for those that want hardcore control over their hard drives. Anything else—as the commercial goes--would be uncivilized.
I’d like a program that can safely and effectively clean my hard drive so that no deleted files can be recovered. Can you recommend something? I see a bunch of stuff out there but it’s for permanently deleting files, not for already-deleted files. And I don’t know which programs are clean—free of malware or other crap. It must be good enough that I can feel safe about giving an old PC to someone else and not worry about identity theft. Also: What would you recommend to minimize any data being stolen from a hard drive if your PC was stolen? I am presently using Splash ID to store my passwords and sensitive data but would feel better if the entire hard drive was protected.
Since its inception, the Window Recycle bin has operated with one purpose in mind: holding your stuff. As well, the recycle bin has always come with a super-bonus feature that, when activated, sends said stuff into the digital ether of your hard drive--or, technically, it marks the location of said stuff as "free space" on your hard drive, rendering said location available for an overwrite at some indeterminate point in the future.
There goes the joke.
Anyway, that's about it. You can send things to the Recycle Bin and you can delete things from the Recycle Bin. End of story. But thankfully--and finally--there's a piece of freeware that extends the usefulness of this digital trash pile just a wee bit past its original intention. It's not a monumental shift or crazy new feature, just a little, necessary tweak to an old friend.
You can put all the security measures you want on your portable PC, but odds are good that unless you're running some heavy encryption across your entire hard drive--I cry for your system's performance--an industrious cracker is going to find some way into your files should he or she have physical access to your laptop. And it's not like it's that hard to steal a laptop: you pick it up, you run away, you bust your way into the operating system. Done and done.
That's where a little application called LaptopLock comes into play. This download is more like a half-and-half, in that it combines the services of a Web app and a downloadable application into one awesome package. Let's paint a scenario: You lose your laptop. You're terrified that someone has actually taken your laptop and, worse, your laptop contains all of your personal information in a little file called "Nathan's Important Information" right on your desktop. What? You were doing your taxes; It's not unheard of.
This story would usually end a few hours later after you've managed to cancel all of your credit cards and cried buckets of tears at the thought of someone stealing your identity, provided said thief hasn't already used your debit card information to go on a personal shopping spree. Now, had you installed LaptopLock beforehand, the roles would be reversed: You'd be sitting easy and the thief would be freaking out at his or her missed opportunity.