Saturday, January 24, 2015

Windows Tweaking Tool List - Updated

My “portable” Windows USB tool collection currently contains just over over 11.5 GB worth of applications I want to keep at the ready when working on a Windows system.

I like to think of it as a “EDSC” Everyday Software Carry version of the cool "EDC" Everyday Carry analog.

Two of my long-term goals are to 1) document and post on GSD an organized lineup of the tools for reference (remember this attempt?) , and 2) to cull through the pile and week out those that I no longer regularly use or are applicable to the post XP Windows environment I now live and work in (Windows 7/8/10).

Alas, I’m far away from tackling either of those noble quests at the moment.

However one folder seemed to be “low hanging fruit” and so I whacked it out this morning.

My original collection of these particular tool files on disk was 189 MB and now it has been reduced to 80 MB.

These are the Windows “tweaking” tools that I used to modify core Windows features, settings, and appearances.

It was easy to address as I realized a while ago that I really just don’t do much post-Windows install tweaking any longer. I might modify the default shortcut icon so it is smaller, I definitely modify the Windows 7 Logon Screen background image…and on Windows 8/8.1 I will add a third-party start-menu replacement. That’s it.

So I’m posting this listing for posterity and reference.

If a tool listed below is appended with an (X) then it is one I used to use/carry but have since removed from my software “EDC”.  Doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it; just that either the features are no longer needed (say it is specifically designed for Win 2000/XP/Vista) or it may just have more features than I will ever use and want to carry.

If a tool listed below is not appended with the (X), then I still have it loaded up on my USB stick…just in case.

Almost all of these are at lease free-for-personal-use, though there may be some that have free versions with limited features that include additional options un-lockable under a $ version. Use according to license limitations.


GSD Windows Tweaking Tool List - Updated

Library of Windows 7 & Windows 8 Shortcuts


(X) Dial-a-fix

(X) EnhanceMyVista

(X) Enhanso - Tweak and Maintain Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1

(X) eXtraButtons

FileMenu Tools


FixWin (Win7)

FixWin (Win8)

(X) FreshUI

(X) Vista Shortcut Overlay Remover

(X) Glary Utilities

Handy Shortcuts

Jumplist Launcher


(X) Logon Workshop

(X) MS Tweakomatic

(X) Mz Vista Force

Notifications Area Cleaner for Windows 7


(X) Pitaschio

(X) PlacesBar Editor - Melloware

(X) PlacesBar Editor - MaDdoG Software

Quick Restore Point Maker


(X) RegToy

(X) SafeXP



(X) Stardock Tweak Vista

(X) Stardock Tweak 7

(X) Startup Unblocker

Taskbar Pinner

(X) Tidy Start Menu

(X) TweakUAC

(X) Tweak 7

(X) Tweak XP

Tweaks Logon Changer

(X) UAC Trust Shortcut

(X) Ultimate Windows Customizer

(X) Ultimate Windows Tweaker

(X) Vista4Experts

(X) VistaTweaker 0.5 Beta

(X) WinBubble

Access Panel for Windows 8, Windows 7 & Vista, x86 and x64

Windows 7 Logon Background Changer

(X) Windows Tweaker 4.0

X-Setup Pro Portable for USB 9.2.100

XdN Tweaker

(X) xp-AntiSpy

(X) Windows XP Security Console

(X) XP-Config


Control Panel - My Computer Tweaker

Windows 7 in a Box

Windows 7 Tips and Tricks (PDF e-book)


Claus Valca

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Super-Scale ForSec Linkpost

I think this post is going to have the same number of URLs as Christmas tree ornaments and mantle decorations that I hung and set out this afternoon. That’s to say there are a lot, and I am quite behind when considering the calendar.

I’ve been collecting these for at least two months and there are too many now to continue to put off posting them for reference. I’ve tried to group them somewhat for consistency in theme.


Advice and Guidance



Web Security

Network Bits

In the Library (mostly whitepapers)

Note: Many of these are PDF links and will open in your web-browser as a PDF…

Live CD News



--Claus Valca

USB Tools and Utilities

It has been a while since I posted a general USB utility round-up: It’s a USB Thing.

So I had seen a new one recently that provides some nice information on USB related system hardware components and it seemed like a good idea to re-mention some similar tools:

Of course, Nir Sofer has some great USB info tools also.

Then there are these:

It has been a while since I was over at Uwe Sieber’s website but he has been hard at work keeping his special USB tools updated.

Microsoft has a tool also for working with USB data:

Windows USBView - sample application in C++ for Visual Studio 2013

Usbview.exe is a Windows GUI application that allows you to browse all USB controllers and connected USB devices on your system. The left pane in the main application window displays a connection-oriented tree view, and the right pane displays the USB data structures pertaining to the selected USB device, such as the Device, Configuration, Interface, and Endpoint Descriptors, as well as the current device configuration.

Important  If you need UsbView as a tool, do not download this sample. Instead get UsbView.exe from the Windows Driver Kit (WDK) in the Windows Kits\<version>\Tools\<arch> folder. If you need to see the source code for UsbView, open the Browse code tab.

And then there is this “anti-usb” tool that removes USB drive history from the registry.

--Claus Valca

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sysadmin Links - QuickPost

Stand back from your browser! Here comes a messy GSD Quickpost with tons of linkage for sysadmins….

New or Useful Software


Windows Diagnostic tool “PerfView”

  • Download PerfView - Microsoft Download Center - This little gem of a Windows performance collection tool is sweet! I’m really loving the easy of its data collection.
  • PerfView Tutorial - Channel 9 - Different video series than the “Defag Tools” listed below, Vance Morrison has some short mini-videos reviewing the tool, its usage, and some example applications. Good stuff!

Additional videos that are longer and more detailed on the tool.

Tips and Tricks

Windows 10


Network Nuggets


Claus Valca

Backup & Sync - QuickPost

For planned (personal) system backups to external USB drives I use Back4Sure by Ulrich Krebs

It has both x32 and x64 bit flavors, comes in a portable version, and is rock-solid based on my experience. Mr. Krebs keeps it regularly updated.

For synchronizing specific folders with those on my collection of USB flash drives and “service” USB HDD’s I had been using DSYNCHRONIZE by Dimio but found that some files were not actually getting copied over for some reason. Not sure why.

So I switched to FreeFileSync instead. It is also regularly updated and super-fast. I also like that I can more easily review what will/did/didn’t get actually sync’ed. It is available in an installed and portable version. It is so easy and reliable to use, I recommended it to my non-techie daughter Alvis who now uses it for system backups of her own. As a college student, data/homework/assignment backups are critical!

  • FreeFileSync - Free backup software to synchronize files and synchronize folders on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X

I recently saw mention of Beanland: AutoVer that can handle automatic/real-tie backup and versioning as well.  (I’m not sure where I found it so I can’t hat-tip anyone but I’m sure it was from one of my favorite technical bloggers…) I’ve been wanting to try it out but have been reluctant due to one critical requirement, you need to leave your backup storage location online and accessible! Duh! Well, from a security standpoint, if I’ve got an external USB drive attached to my system and am running live updates to it, and malicious code hits my system and does “bad things” to my files/storage, then it might be possible it could find/overwrite my “live” backup stores as well.

I’m sure there is a way to work around that with additional options (maybe store them in a container/way that would avoid being “crypto-locked”). But for now, I’m sticking with non-quite-live regular updates of my systems using Back4Sure and attaching an external media (I rotate between two) USB HDD for just the backup run, then removal when done. Hopefully the extra work (and drive rotation) will isolate the backup data from any infection damage were that to occur.



--Claus Valca

Browser Bits in the News - Quickpost

Lots of web-browser bits have been in my RSS feed pile lately.

Here is a sizable collection for your review and bookmarking.

Security Related

  • SSLPersonas, making the padlock obvious. - Malwarebytes Unpacked - I like the concept but the graphic was a bit too bold IMHO.
  • Are you a robot? Introducing “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA” - Google Online Security Blog - GSD has been flooded in the past several months with an update in comment-spam. I seriously debated turning comments off, however there wasn’t a granular way on Blogger to keep the current comments visible and suspend commenting. So, since I do like the discussions and comments from the GSD support base -- and I guess keeping things open so it wastes time for the comment bots and boiler-room comment spam drone workers -- the comments remain open. And I will continue to rely on Blogger’s spam-filters to catch most of them.
  • The No CAPTCHA problem - Egor Homakov - and counterpoint analysis
  • The New Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit 1.05 - Malwarebytes Unpacked - I really like the promise of Anti-Exploit. Lavie continues to “pilot” it on her Win 8.1 system. However I also run EMET on our systems and AE seems to require some significant tweaking of the EMET rule-set to get Internet Explorer to run “normally” when both are installed at the same time.That said, I hope to one day see where they both can run concurrently without additional tweaking of default rule/behavior sets. Alas, this new version of AE didn’t bring it to me just yet.

Firefox Related

Chrome Related

  • The Best Chrome Extensions - MakeUseOf -  I have some of these already and will be looking into a few to see if they will be worth adding.

GPU acceleration in the web browser

Also, in Chrome you can type “chrome://flags/” in the address bar and get a GUI and more fine-grained way to address/disable rendering options in the browser.



Claus Valca

Outlook 2010/2013 Troubleshooting - Quickpost

Some time ago I posted the following link:

Mark’s post focused on some advanced diagnostic features in Outlook 2013. We are running Office 2010 as our current standard and are only now piloting future deployment of Office 2013.

So I had filed the post away for a “when we get there” future time.

Only yesterday our ticket queue was filling up with customer Outlook issues and I hopped into the first-line trenches to help with the dig-out.

While working with a remote customer I said to my myself, “Self! Wonder if those diagnostic features for 2013 might be present in 2010.”

I found the 2010 Outlook system tray icon on the user’s remote system, held down the CTRL key while right-clicking the icon and…YES! There they were.

They quickly helped me to diagnose and fix the user’s issue and the user’s email was flowing again to her Outlook client program after a 1-week hiatus.

That helped me on the next several Outlook tickets as well and soon the backlog was addressed.

Nice to know. More Outlook tips and references for this particular troubleshooting feature set below.


Claus Valca