Laptop Junction's short list of essential software tools used during overland truck travel with a laptop. Although all have bugs and odd behaviors, the software [windows] generally worked and got the job done.
- Drive Imaging : Norton Ghost, formally known as Drive Image - Drive Imaging is the *ONLY* way to maintain some sort of stability running Windows XP over a period of many years. The program comes in two version, one to make driveimages with, the other to restore driveimages from CD.
See Norton Ghost.
- Partition Magic : This program is essential to resize a partition. Although it has a few bugs, a few of them lethal, it is the only way out when a partition becomes to big for driveimaging.
If Parition Magic fails, the UBUNTU installation CD comes with a partition manager. It's possible to abort UBUNTU installation after disk partitioning and only use the results without installing UBUNTU.
See Partition Magic.
- "Second Opinion" Operating System : Running a second operating system on the same disk can separate hardware from software problems. A boot manager allows to select the OS to boot. Ubuntu comes with the GRUB boot manager and a disk partitioner to fit UBUNTU on a disk fully taken by for instance Windows.
| UBUNTU? Run it from a USB stick or CD / DVD
Hardware or Software related problems?
Keep UBUNTU handy on a USB stick or CD.
When UBUNTU runs fine - your hardware is ok.
The UBUNTU website describes how to make a UBUNTU startup disk or USB stick.
- Disk health tracking : Most harddisks have an onboard tracking system called SMART to keep an eye on disk health. SMART attribute tracking software allows you to react preventively on disk degradation by making backups.
See Drive Sitter.
- Partition Recovery : When a partition fails due to a disk failure or file corruption, this program access the harddisk on a lower level making partial recovery of files, partition table, MBR possible - if the controller hardware is still ok.
See Partition Recovery.
- Disk defragmentation : Windows disk defragmentation is too simple to be used on fully stuffed disks. It wastes battery power by being too CPU intensive and it's single shot mode. O & O defrag is a reasonable alternative, however it has a few bugs in disk file system checks and can lock up in exotic situations. Helpdesk is a bit arrogant & unhelpfull when it comes to diagnosing prblems.
See O & O defrag
- Paging & Hibernation file defragmentation : On stuffed disks, the large paging and hibernation can become heavily fragmented, causing extremely high disk activity during startup / shutdown to hibernation mode or when paging programs to the disk. Battery is drained more quickly because of more CPU cycles needed. (the disk itself doesn't take much power). Defragmentation is only possible at boot time, and preferably used after normal disk defragmentation. See also forced cooling.
See Page Defrag.
- Virus Scanning - Internet Security : With a plethora of scanner / security solutions available, the ones with small daily updates (avoiding huge downloads) and quick scan option (avoiding draining the battery) fit a weary traveler best. This includes a replacement of the flimsy Windows Firewall and on-line data theft traps.
See Avast, Trendmicro, Mcafee
- Password management : Several password management software packages are available since several years. Portability is essential, having access to passwords when needed.
See Password Safe, Access Manager
- Data encryption : There is a lot of encryption software on the market. A lightweight portable solution is freely available through the open source community.
| Keep your Laptop Data Safe
Your laptop has suddenly disappeared?
Make sure your sensitive data is secured.
Read about basic Laptop Data Security measures to keep your data yours.
- Network session encryption : Software that creates a secure "tunnel" from your laptop to a server somewhere else in the world, making it difficult to eavesdrop on the communication session. Usually known as VPN
session software, creating an encrypted session in open WIFI networks, bypassing rogue internet providers, breached servers or government session filtering.
See Witopia, Jiwire
- POP / SMTP session encryption : For those with POP / SMTP mailservers not equiped with secure SSL certificates it's possibel to forward all e-mail to GMAIL and use the free SSL encrypted POP / SMTP mailservices of Google Mail.
- X-NetStat : Shows what program uses your Internet connection using what amount of bandwidth. Great to trap those sneaky background software updaters eating away bandwidth.
- TCPView : The more simple and free version of X-NetStat showing internet activity of running programs. Great to see which program connects to what resolved IP destination.
- I8kfanGUI : Monitors temperatures in DELL Laptops and allows user control over the CPU fan.
- Process Explorer : Free tool to see what processes are running on your computer and which files they use.
See Process Explorer.
- NetStumbler : Free tool to survey WIFI signals and strength.
Please do comment if you know of other programs that do well, keeping a laptop running, while travel ling around the globe.