Steve's Favorite Utilities, Gadgets & Services

  • SpinRite v6.1 is Released!
    That's right. SpinRite v6.1 is finished and released. For the full story, please see this page in the "Pre-Release Announcements & Feedback" forum.
  • Be sure to checkout “Tips & Tricks”
    Dear Guest Visitor → Once you register and log-in:

    This forum does not automatically send notices of new content. So if, for example, you would like to be notified by mail when Steve posts an update to his blog (or of any other specific activity anywhere else), you need to tell the system what to “Watch” for you. Please checkout the “Tips & Tricks” page for details about that... and other tips!

  • Announcing “BootAble” – GRC's New Boot-Testing Freeware
    Please see the BootAble page at GRC for the whole story.
  • BootAble – FreeDOS boot testing freeware

    To obtain direct, low-level access to a system's mass storage drives, SpinRite runs under a GRC-customized version of FreeDOS which has been modified to add compatibility with all file systems. In order to run SpinRite it must first be possible to boot FreeDOS.

    GRC's “BootAble” freeware allows anyone to easily create BIOS-bootable media in order to workout and confirm the details of getting a machine to boot FreeDOS through a BIOS. Once the means of doing that has been determined, the media created by SpinRite can be booted and run in the same way.

    The participants here, who have taken the time to share their knowledge and experience, their successes and some frustrations with booting their computers into FreeDOS, have created a valuable knowledgebase which will benefit everyone who follows.

    You may click on the image to the right to obtain your own copy of BootAble. Then use the knowledge and experience documented here to boot your computer(s) into FreeDOS. And please do not hesitate to ask questions – nowhere else can better answers be found.

    (You may permanently close this reminder with the 'X' in the upper right.)


Unix & Cycling fan :-)
Oct 21, 2020

In his blog, Steve started a thread with his own favorite utilities:

For now, it contains just five or six entries.

In these years of Security Now!, Steve recommended many dozens of utilities and tools.

The idea of my post here is that we, the listeners, remind the utilities he recommended and we liked.
So @Steve might copy/paste from this thread to his blog.

I start with this one, from SN #552:

It's one of my favorite tools ever !
It is a bootable thumbdrive (or CD) which allows to create "images" of a whole hard disk or a single partition to be kept as backup, even incremental.
The images, compressed and/or encrypted, can be stored on another hard drive, USB thumbdrive, Cloud or even DVDs.
Eventually, an image can be restored to the same disk, or to a disk with different capacity (smaller or larger). The tool will take into account the shrinking of the partitions, and the partition will remain bootable after the restore (both Windows and Linux).

It's my default tool before attempting some dangerous operation on my data, or when I switch to a larger hard disk.
Thank you Steve for having recommended this tool !

I keep thinking I should buy this, as it sounds really cool, but then I realize I personally have never had an occasion where I wished I had it at hand. I just don't store data on a PC, so the risk of having to rebuild the image of it doesn't scare me much. I store my data on a NAS in the network. Still, it sounds like an amazing utility to have around.

Here's the link for their site:
Well then! :oops: :cool:
I have to say, I'm kind of surprised (and delighted!) to see that Steve approves of my choice of router hardware!

I don't work in IT, I'm just a truck driver. However, I've been monkeying around with computers since the early 1980's, and I believe that they are a tool to make MY life easier. The first PC I bought was an Apple IIe - if you wanted to do anything serious with it, you either needed to have a LOT of money, or you needed to write your own programs. So I learned Applesoft BASIC. I also dabbled in 65C02 machine language. Later, I moved over to IBM based 80x86 PC's. I even taught myself Visual Basic and wrote a program, in VB4, to track my trucking business. In my mind, WinXP was the last, best, OS that Microsoft produced... When WinXP hit its expiration date, I moved over to Linux. Knowing that WinXP was about to be sunsetted, I had been dabbling with Gentoo Linux and, when WinXP expired, it was an easy transition.

When, in my local community, Cable Internet was offered I jumped on it! I could get 4x the speed, for the same price as my DSL connection! However, I decided to buy my own cable modem and opposed to renting those items from my ISP. Linkysys hardware was my choice. Then I stumbled over 'aftermarket' (Tomato and DD-WRT) firmware and I was hooked!

A couple of years ago, I stumbled across the SECURITY NOW podcast. Periodically, Steve would mention pfSense, as his router/firewall of choice. After doing some research, I was like YES! I have an old Pentium machine that can run pfSense! Then, I discovered that the x86_32 version of pfSense was being deprecated. :confused:
But, OPNSense (a fork of pfSense) was still available..for a couple more months. :censored:
I started looking around for a (CHEAP) dedicated box to run opnSense and found FW4A model.
It's been up and running for about a year. :) looks good but does not have Linux support which means it is not for me. I wrote to them a few months ago, but they stated they have no plans at this time to work on one. I will stick to Dropbox for now using Veracrypt to make sure important files are encrypted end to end.