Beef up the OS's functionality

Although the functionality of Windows products increases with each release, I continue to use many third-party utilities regularly. I use some of these utilities for their convenience, but others are essential tools in my arsenal. In this Top 10, I list my favorite third-party utilities for Windows 2000.

10. Symantec's Norton AntiVirus (http://www.symantec.com/). Internet and email have become facts of life—along with the weekly news of fresh computer viruses. Which antivirus product you use isn't particularly important; however, if you have any type of Internet connectivity, you need to find a package that works for you.

9. MochaSoft's W32Telnet (http://www.mochasoft.dk/). A modification in Win2K that displeased me was the conversion of the Telnet program from a GUI utility to a character-based application. Although many graphical Telnet utilities exist, I like W32Telnet because it has a comfortable interface and can connect to many hosts.

8. Helios Software Solutions' TextPad (http://www.textpad.com/). Because Notepad is a free Win2K component, you might think you'll never need a different text editor. However, if you perform any scripting, you'll appreciate TextPad for its multiple-document interface (MDI), recently used files list, and compare files feature, and because it lets you view and edit binary files.

7. Forté's Free Agent (http://www.forteinc.com/). I use Microsoft Outlook as my email client, but I've never cared for Outlook's newsreader. Free Agent is more flexible than the Outlook newsreader and stores all its configuration data and messages in a folder, so you can easily move, back up, and change data.

6. Zone Labs' ZoneAlarm (http://www.zonealarm.com/). As full-time Internet connections through Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) and cable modems proliferate, patrolling your PC's Internet traffic is essential. ZoneAlarm runs as a personal firewall when your system starts up.

5. PowerQuest's PartitionMagic (http://www.powerquest.com/). PartitionMagic fills the gaps in Disk Manager's one-way functionality. PartitionMagic, which works with FAT, FAT32, NTFS, and the new Win2K NTFS, lets you create, resize, and convert disk partitions on the fly.

4. Executive Software's Undelete (http://www.execsoft.com/). If Win2K is missing essential functionality, it's the capability to undelete files. You might need an undelete tool only occasionally, but when you do need it, you really need it. You can download a trial copy of Undelete from Executive Software's Web site.

3. John A. Junod's WS_FTP (ftp://ftp.usma.edu/download/ws_ftp32.exe). Microsoft has never offered a graphical FTP program with any version of Windows, so I've used this user-friendly program since I first connected to the Internet. This tool, which the University of Michigan distributes, is a necessity when you transfer files that are too large for email attachments. WS_FTP is free for individual and noncommercial use; the commercial version is available from Ipswitch (http://www.ipswitch.com/).

2. Jasc Software's Quick View Plus (http://www.jasc.com/). Sometimes you might not want to take the time to launch an associated application simply to glance at the contents of a .bmp, .gif, .doc, or .xls file. Quick View Plus is a generic file viewer that you'll use daily. After you launch the utility from Windows Explorer's Context menu, you can view more than 200 file formats.

1. WinZip Computing's WinZip (http://www.winzip.com/). WinZip is a tool I use every day for compressing email attachments and archiving files. The tool's interface and integration with the Win2K desktop make it simple to use. And WinZip offers a free upgrade to the latest product version to all existing customers.