Skip to main content

Binary boot camp: 10 apps to get your PC in perfect shape

6. MP3tag

If like us you've got gigabytes of digital music on your PC, you've probably got a problem with it: the meta tags, the information that says what song is what and who did it, is often very messy.

MP3tag

Fix song, artist and album names and tame even the biggest digital music collection.

MP3tag can solve that. From imposing consistency – no more will you have some songs marked REM and others R.E.M. – to correcting errors, standardising file names and downloading the correct album art for each record, MP3tag does a great job of taming even the largest, messiest MP3 collections. It works with non-MP3 music files too, with support for FLAC, AAC and more.

7. Handbrake

Video formats fall in and out of fashion, and that means it's easy to end up with a hard disk full of clips in varying formats and in various resolutions, or a library of discs just dying to be digitised.

Handbrake

If you make or watch video, you need this app: it converts clips and even backs up Blu-rays.

Handbrake can sort it all out for you. It can convert video clips from almost any format to any other format, which is great for getting files from dying or obsolete formats into more modern ones, and it can backup DVDs and Blu-rays too. Its filters also do a pretty good job of correcting common quality problems with home movies.

8. Eraser

Deleting files doesn't actually delete them: your computer just marks them as "safe to overwrite" and pretends they're not there. That's not a problem unless you're dealing with information you don't want to share – for example if you're selling a computer or giving it away you might not want someone to recover your personal banking information or other personal or business data.

Eraser

Eraser takes your confidential information and deletes it forever. Don't sell a PC without it.

Say hello to Eraser, which ensures that deleted files can't be recovered by overwriting them with carefully selected patterns. It's programmable, too, so you can schedule it to run at regular intervals such as the weekend or in the wee small hours.

9. Recuva

As you may have guessed from the name, Recuva does the opposite of Eraser: its job is file recovery, not file deletion. It's our go-to app for retrieving image files from corrupted camera memory cards, enabling us to recover our precious holiday snaps, but it's just as happy recovering accidentally deleted music from iPods or business documents that got trashed during a computer crash.

Recuva

Corrupted camera card? Word doc woes? Recuva can bring files back from the dead.

It can rebuild corrupted Word documents from temporary files, recover accidentally deleted emails and get files back even after hard disks have been reformatted. When things go wrong, Recuva can usually make them right again.

10. Revo Uninstaller Free

Revo Uninstaller reaches the parts the default Windows uninstaller can't reach, scanning your PC for the various bits and pieces that are often left over once an app has been uninstalled, such as temporary files, user documents and redundant Registry entries.

Revo Uninstaller Free

Revo reaches the parts of your PC the default uninstaller cannot reach.

That's particularly handy if you're tight for hard disk space or tend to install lots of apps. If you need more powerful uninstallation, for example to automatically remove multiple programs at the same time or to force-uninstall a program that's refusing to go nicely, the 30-day trial of the Professional version is fully functional and gives you access to all its advanced features.