Automation/Scheduling Tool. Winning the award in 2004 but taking second place in 2005, Network Automation's AutoMate once again takes the Best Automation/Scheduling Tool award. AutoMate provides the tools necessary to automate business processes. Besides automating job scheduling, you can use this product to automate a wide variety of other processes, including FTP file transfers, event-log monitoring, application testing, data or file replication, and even database transactions. AutoMate is most often used by systems administrators and other corporate IT staff. MSI's Winnetta Byford notes that "We use AutoMate extensively for sending electronic data to clients; retrieving data via FTP; daily, weekly and monthly reporting; and anything else I can think of to make my job easier! I would be lost without it."

Defragmentation Utility. Raxco Software's PerfectDisk won the Best Defragmentation Utility award by a landslide. Perhaps one reason why PerfectDisk is so popular is that you can use it in organizations of any size. One small office/home office (SOHO) user is especially pleased with PerfectDisk, which is certified by Microsoft for Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000. Todd Fisher, proprietor of the Computer Assistance consulting firm, says, "It is rare (and a real pleasure) to evaluate a program that does what it says—the first time. The improvement in my systems' performance (laptop and desktop) was significant....I highly recommend Perfect-Disk 7.0 to any computer user as well as to any computer support person. It belongs in any tech support arsenal!"

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Emergency Recovery Console Utility. Quest Software's ERDisk is moving up fast in the world. Last year, ERDisk took third place in this award competition and this year takes top honors. As the product's name implies, ERDisk provides fast recovery from the unexpected system failure or other emergencies. However, ERDisk is not only a recovery tool but also a backup tool. ERDisk automates scheduled backups of System State data, saving time. Its centralized management and restore capabilities save even more time because administrators don't need to visit every server and workstation. Reducing administrators' workloads is helping one company keep costs down. Long-time customer BF Goodrich estimates that ERDisk saves the company about 10 to 15 hours a month in administrative time at each of its six sites. Altogether, that equates to saving around $150,000 annually.

File-Compression Tool. WinZip International's WinZip Pro beat its two write-in competitors to win the Best File Compression Tool award for the fourth consecutive year. With more than 160 million downloads, it's not surprising that this tool has won not only four Windows IT Pro Readers' Choice awards but also many other awards, including a CNET Editors' Choice award, a Tucows Editor's Choice award, and several Shareware Industry Awards Foundation (SIAF) People's Choice awards. Besides offering the file-compression features found in the Standard edition, the Pro edition lets you schedule WinZip jobs, zip and burn files directly to CD-ROMs and DVDs on Windows XP machines, upload .zip files to FTP servers, and preconfigure backup jobs so that you can regularly archive important files.

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File-System Tool. For the first time, Ipswitch is receiving the Best File-System Tool award for its WS_FTP Professional 2006 utility. WS_FTP Professional 2006 strives to make file transfer and data management faster, easier, and more secure. Many of its customers, including National Travelers Life (NTL), have found this to be the case. NTL's field agents need to transfer enrollment forms on their laptops to the home office. Rather than using email, NTL decided to use FTP to transfer data. A key factor in NTL's decision to use WS_FTP Professional is the product's scripting features. "Because of WS_FTP Pro's scripting capability, our field agents don't even know that they are using FTP," says Cynthia Merritt, database administrator and Web developer at NTL. "Everything is automated into a Visual Basic application, so all they have to do is push a few buttons to upload the enrollment forms to our server. WS_FTP works seamlessly, which was one of our goals."

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Scripting Editor. Ever since Windows IT Pro started the Readers' Choice awards program in 2002, a ScriptLogic product has taken top honors in the competition for the best scripting editor. This year is no exception. However, ScriptLogic's scripting editor functionality has now been rolled into Desktop Authority, a full fledged desktop-management solution. Thus, Desktop Authority offers not only scripting capabilities but also configuration, inventory, reporting, patch management, antispyware, power management, and remote management capabilities. This diverse range of capabilities is evident in the fact that Desktop Authority also won the Change and Configuration Management Tool award, OS Migration Tool award, Registry Management Tool award, and Remote Management Tool award in this year's Readers' Choice competition.

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Undelete Utility. A majority of the readers who participated in the Undelete Utility award poll gave Diskeeper's Undelete their vote of approval. Undelete replaces the Windows Recycle Bin with its Recovery Bin, which intercepts all deleted files. To recover a file, you simply find it using a search or the Windows Explorer-like UI, right-click the file, and select Recover. Undelete can also protect against intentional deletions, as one customer found out firsthand. This customer notes that, "A user who was planning to leave the company deleted all his work from the server. He did this over the course of a month, so the backups were useless after the first week. He tried to sell the data back to us. But unbeknownst to him, I was running Undelete and was easily able to recover the data. Quite a good feeling."

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UTILITIES

Automation/Scheduling Tool
1st—Network Automation AutoMate
http://www.networkautomation.com
2nd—ScriptLogic Desktop Authority
http://www.scriptlogic.com
3rd—Argent Job Scheduler
http://www.argent.com

Defragmentation Utility
1st—Raxco Software PerfectDisk
http://www.raxco.com
2nd—Diskeeper 10
http://www.diskeeper.com
3rd—Winternals Software Defrag Manager
http://www.winternals.com

Emergency Recovery Console Utility
1st—Quest Software ERDisk
http://www.quest.com
2nd—O&O Software RescueBox
http://www.oo-software.com
3rd—Winternals Software Administrator's Pak
http://www.winternals.com

File-Compression Tool
1st—WinZip International WinZip Pro
http://www.winzip.com
2nd—RARLAB WinRAR
http://www.rarlab.com
3rd—ConeXware PowerArchiver
http://www.powerarchiver.com

File-System Tool
1st—Ipswitch WS_FTP Professional 2006
http://www.ipswitch.com
2nd—ScriptLogic Security Explorer
http://www.scriptlogic.com
3rd—Altiris Software Virtualization Solution
http://www.altiris.com

Scripting Editor
1st—ScriptLogic Desktop Authority
http://www.scriptlogic.com
2nd—SAPIEN Technologies PrimalScript Enterprise
http://www.sapien.com
3rd—Entrigue Systems Script Start
http://www.scriptstart.com

Undelete Utility
1st—Diskeeper Undelete
http://www.undelete.com
2nd—O&O Software UnErase
http://www.oo-software.com
3rd—Quest Software Object Restore for Active Directory
http://www.quest.com