Say No to Bloated Software for Windows – 7 Lightweight Alternatives

Windows users often have a given set of software, which, despite possibly not being the best fitting for their systems, they have always used it and do not like to change. For a new computer, this might not be a problem, as it usually comes with enough resources to run the software smoothly, but for older computers, using lightweight applications will lead to a better performance.

So, why keep using this heavy software which take ages to load and supercharges your system? There are usually plenty of lightweight alternatives for bloated software, meaning that you just need to search for them. In this article I will talk about seven applications which can easily be replaced by lighter ones without compromising the functionality you are looking for.

winreplacement-sumatrapdf

Do not take me wrong: Adobe Reader is actually great, but it takes ages for the application to load and open files. With Sumatra PDF, files are opened in a blink of an eye. This small software has all the basic tools for PDF viewing which makes it perfect for anyone looking for a fast PDF Reader. However, if you need PDF editing tools, then Sumatra PDF is not the best fit. Check out other nice alternatives for Adobe Reader here on Make Tech Easier.

winreplacement-jaangle

Ever since I found Jaangle a few years ago, I have always been puzzled about the reason why it did not get featured on those “best player” lists. Jaangle is a really lightweight player – it takes no more than 15MB of RAM when playing. I realiize it might not be visually attractive, but to me, it looks good and is 100 percent functional. Given that I have music on all the time, why would I want a heavy player like iTunes eating up all my resources in the background? For the moment, Jaangle’s developers have stopped producing updates, but updates are not needed anyway.

winreplacement-firefox

I’m sure you saw this one coming. Internet Explorer had some improvements in the latest Windows versions, but it is still way far behind its competitors. Browsers like Chrome, Firefox or Opera are lighter, faster and more customizable, making them obvious choices over Microsoft’s browser.

winreplacement-imgburn

This is 2014 – why would someone still be stuck with Nero anyway? Do not get me wrong, Nero Burning ROM was an incredible software when it came out, but that was seventeen years ago. Nero could not keep up with the competition, and right now there are several free and better alternatives. ImgBurn is one of them, giving you a simple and yet effective way of burning your CDs/DVDs.

winreplacement-daumpotplayer

Windows Media Player is a nice player, but it has not been evolving so much in the past few years in order to be a true competitor for the video player market. Daum PotPlayer, on the other hand, covers a huge spectrum of formats, is fast and lightweight, supports subtitles without great efforts and has lots of keyboard shortcuts which make navigation way easier.

winreplacement-7zip

WinRAR and WinZip were also two very useful tools when they first appeared, and their reign was steady for some years. However, they failed to keep the innovation coming. 7-Zip, though, is a small piece of software that supports several different compression types. Also, it is much faster than WinRAR and WinZip, making it the best compression tool available right now.

winreplacement-teracopy

With this item, I am not suggesting that you ditch Windows Explorer for good – just the file copying and moving part. It works well for small and medium files, but bigger files are really painful to copy. TeraCopy is a tiny tool that replaces that part of Windows Explorer and is only activated when you copy or move a file (or multiple files). Not only does it make transfers faster, it also adds some handy features to file transferring – pause and resume transfers, error recovery, interactive file list, and shell integration among others.

What do you think about this list of replacements for Windows software? Let us know in the comments.

29 comments

    • Hi there Lucian, thank you for the feedback.

      I haven’t used any of those programs, but I have taken a look at MusicBee and it seemed really great. However, for this article I focused more on software that I use on my PC – anyhow, at least MusicBee could easily feature this list.

  1. Nice article! I’ve been a Open Source fan since 2006 when I met Linux for the first time… And I must say “It really changed my while life and the way I see computers now.”
    Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that, there’s always an alternative to privative software. If you keep looking I guarantee you will find even better ones that do exactly the same tasks or even beyond that.
    Diogo, the only thing I would replace in this article is the Music Player. I use VLC Player and it has no competition whatsoever. It’s the best music player out there and many people have realized it. Oh, and by the way… I would also mention Office Suite like Libre Office that has nothing to envy to Microsoft Office.

    But like I said, you did a great article. Keep it up with this kind of topics. Thumbs up!

    • Thank you for the comments, Guillermo! Like I said, in this article I put my own opinion and the softwares I use – I’m a huge fan of Jaangle, because it fits all my needs. But yeah, there are many other possible alternatives!

  2. As far as I know IE cannot be completely removed from Windows. It has too many hooks into the kernel. So the alternate browsers you suggest cannot not replace it on the hard drive. They have to be installed in addition to IE. Of course, one does not have to use IE but it will always be there.

    • dragonmouth, I’m actually not aware of that specific subject, but I will surely do some research and, if justifiable, I’ll write an article about that. Thanks!

    • You can, in fact, “delete” IE from Windows by going in Programs and Features through the Control Panel.

      Here’s How:
      Click on Programs and Features.
      Look to the left panel and see “Turn Features on and Off.”
      Click on it and roll through the list to find IE.
      Uncheck it, click apply, then okay and voila! Once it restarts, no more IE!

      Hope this helps!

      • Hello Lady Adellandra (we’re semi name sakes) :)

        You seem to be very familiar with IE. I found where to turn it on or off thanks to you! It’s on but it doesn’t appear in my “uninstall programs”. Anyway, my default browser is Firefox but IE is not behaving properly. I suppose this is not news coming from MS…. lol!

        Adela

          • While you have the option of removing Internet Explorer from the list of features, this is actually not a good idea. A variety of software makes use of some IE component or other and will not function correctly without it.

            IE doesn’t really take up any significant disk space, and just because it’s sitting there in program files doesn’t mean you have to use it ;p. I use firefox (because chrome is ugly and lacks even basic customization).

            I should add, a number of programs need Windows Media Player to be present.

            For video I use Media Player Classic and standalone codecs for different formats. While I have VLC installed, it’s not my primary player because it doesn’t play certain formats very well.

            For music, Winamp is still hands down the best audio player in my books – in part because of the vast library of plugins for different skins, input and output formats, audio enhancements, and so forth. I don’t know of any other audio player that can play all of the formats it can play (and encode them to mp3 while it does)

  3. For ZIPping, I’ve yet to find a better alternative than IZArc. Free, fast, and supports every compression method known to man….or woman :)

  4. Dump Windows Explorer, too – use Q-Dir, fast, lightweight file manager with enhanced capabilities like dual-panes, etc.

  5. Awesome list, I have heard of/used most of the app here except for the music and video player. I will have to give them a try. As for the web browser I will have to recommend QupZilla, very light weight, fast, and feature rich. I am a Firefox users myself but if you want something that is lightweight I would go with QupZilla.

    • Thank you Mohan! About the web browser, I recently reviewed a Firefox clone named “Light”, check it out.

      • I have checked that article out, too bad it is not avaliable on any other playform other than Windows.

  6. Greetings,
    For music and video, I use MPC-HC (Media Player Classic-Home Cinema) for a small number of files, which is open source. I used to use VLC, but has become too large of a file, and it uses a big chunk of memory.

    But foobar2000 (which is free) is what I depend on for my major music playing due to its capability of displaying as many play lists as you want (in tabs), for its clean interface, and there is no shortage of free plugins for it.
    You could have tabs like All_Lists, Classic_Rock, Country, Classical, …, Eagles, AC_DC, etc. You can even put all your titles from all the tabs in the All_Lists tab, and then save the playlists individually. It is also capable of converting audio formats, but I don’t use it for that purpose.

    My favorite “replacement” to Windows Explorer is Free Commander. One of the best out there, and it’s free, obviously.

    After using almost every web browser ever existed, including Netscape and Mosaic (since back in early 1990s), I have opted for FireFox. It is my favorite. I usually have many, many, many tabs (over 90 sometimes), and I love the fact that it does not load the page until I click its tab (this setting is in the Options).

    Chrome, on the other hand, starts loading your pages (tabs) as soon as it runs, and if you have too many tabs, then you may as well go shopping while it loads them. So, after a lengthy use of it, I had uninstalled Chrome. This is aside from the fact that I do not trust Google.

    Obviously the article / author did not mean to remove your Internet Explorer from your Windows-based system, and pleased don’t do it. You can make whatever browser you like as your default browser.

    I have a disagreement regarding WinRAR. It doesn’t fall under “bloated”. It’s a very small program, and over the years, and after using at least a dozen other products, including commercial ones, it remains my favorite. It has a lot of capabilities, and a great interface, that is far better than 7-zip’s, IMHO.

    ImageBurn is awesome, and it has been my favorite burning app for a long time.

    The PDF readers mentioned in the article, and in some comments, are fine, I have used them all, but ran into problems in many cases (depending on the complexity of the document), and, in such cases, I had to resort to the Adobe Reader, unfortunately.

    Thank for your countless, and helpful articles.

    • Googlian, thank you for the comments. Regarding WinRar, it is true that it’s not that bloated, but it has fallen way behind more recent alternatives like 7-Zip.

  7. My apology for a couple of my typos, and I wish it was possible to edit our own comments, at least within some period of time, say 30 minutes or so.

  8. Nice article… And I realize this is more about smaller programs than their mainstream counterparts, but that usually turns into a discussion of open source software. As far as small foot print and full featured, I prefer cdrtfe as my CD/DVD burning solution.

    Per their website:
    “cdrtfe is an open source CD/DVD/BD burning application for Microsoft Windows. You can burn data discs, Audio CDs, XCDs, (S)VCDs and DVD-Video discs. It supports creation and writing of ISO images and bootable discs. Disc images and Audio CDs can be written simultaneously to multiple writers.
    cdrtfe is a win32 frontend for the cdrtools (cdrecord, mkisofs, readcd, cdda2wav), Mode2CDMaker, VCDImager and other well-known tools.
    cdrtfe has a multi-language interface and is also available as portable version.
    For Windows 9x, ME, 2k, XP, Vista, 7, 8. ”

    The amazing thing is this software is a 6MB download, yet is a fully featured burner. About the only thing it doesn’t do that I found useful in Roxio is be a media manager, but even that is bloated. However, performing file conversion to make videos correct format for specific phones and converting files to use on Blackberry, Android, iPhone, iPod, etc. was pretty handy. That being said, there are open source alternatives for that too.

    Anyway I wanted to highlight “cdrtfe”, available on SourceForge.net, of course for free. I dropped it when I needed to load my software on a new computer and had trouble getting Roxio to activate, so I dropped it in favor of cdrtfe.

    I’ve also used imgburn, but it is a lightweight compared to cdrtfe.

  9. If you have a recent and therefore pretty quick PC, whatever software you use shouldn’t really be an issue. The more important issue is does it work the way you want it to. I should hate Microsoft but time and time again, I try different software and end up back there because other things just don’t work as I won’t them too. I’d agree with some of that list, but for me I like media player, it works exactly as I want it too work

  10. This is a very good list. I use many of these programs.

    I’m a PC system builder, so only Microsoft operating systems for me. I’m considered a “power user”. I’m on my computer all day and half of the night – every day. My hardware is getting older now (E8500 core 2 duo – overclocked), but I have heaps of memory and hard drive space – and I use it all.

    I prefer Opera over IE10 and Firefox, but it still doesn’t render all sites properly. IE11 on Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit was very unstable when I last tried it a few months ago. If IE ever incorporated the “Block Content” feature of Opera – or Opera rendered all web pages correctly, I’d never have to change between browsers again. Firefox’s Ad Blocker add on is no match and the program has become bloated over time. I doubt I’ll ever trust (Google) Chrome with my information. So it’s back and forth for me – IE10 and Opera.

    People use different media players for different reasons. Foobar2000 seems to be the preferred player for those who want to manage large music lists, and it only does music. VLC is preferred by the simplistic users for both music and video. I fall into the audiophile group. I have more $ stuck into my sound system than the rest of my PC combined. I have a large (over 3TB) collection of mostly lossless (.FLAC) but also 320kbps .mp3s that I use often, but I don’t use playlists or care about fan art. I tend to queue up what I’m in the mood to listen to at any given time. I’m also into movies and TV series, all through the computer, with my TV as a monitor.

    For the best sound, stability, and light resources – KMPlayer version 2.9.4.1435 (same developers as Pot Player) is my weapon of choice for music and videos. Later versions added too much advertising (similar to Pot Player – although Pot Player still hasn’t matched KMPlayer for sound quality without many adjustments). Earlier versions had stability issues with some video formats. The sound quality leaves Foobar2000, VLC, Winamp, and anything Microsoft sounding bland – and it just plain works. I’ve yet to find anyone, with even the most basic computer speakers, whom doesn’t notice a drastic improvement in sound quality with KMPlayer for music and videos. The bass and treble come alive on KMPlayer, without having to adjust the most comprehensive sound effects available anywhere. If you care about sound quality over simplicity or file management, KMPlayer 2.9.4.1435 will exceed your expectations. It’s still easy to find with search engine of your choice. :)

  11. Sorry, meant to say Foobar2000 only does music “well”. It does play videos, although it isn’t compatible with all video formats.

  12. music: foobar
    video: media player classic and vlc as backup
    image viewer: irfanview
    image editor: paintdotnet
    note pad: note pad ++
    webbrowser: palemoon with firefox as backup
    windows explorer “enhancements”: teracopy, Duplicate Cleaner Free, Remove Empty Directories, Tree Size Free, Ultrasearch
    However I am now testing Cubic Explorer as a Windows Explorer Replacement.
    Windows Start Menu: Classic Shell

  13. WinRAR isn’t too bloated in comparison with 7-Zip. Both are good, efficient products that can be made portable if need be. WinZip does suck. Nobody cares about its hybrid ZIP/LZMA/wavpack/AES format, and the ribbon GUI.

    For video I consider it essential to have Windows-“native” experience (VLC, SMPlayer come from Linux and GTK) for maximum responsiveness under load with a glitch-free UI, hence why my choice is Media Player Classic, or LAV Filters (the core of MPC) under any GUI player of choice. The free software equivalents have some good functions such as stream playback.

    You can’t reduce bloat by using an explorer replacement, because you can’t remove the original from the system. One can choose their own file manager to avert the shock that comes when Microsoft redesign their product, adding ribbons or new style copy dialogs that don’t feel right. Two excellent file managers are: Total Commander (more orthodox DOS style) and Directory Opus (Explorer-style, but restrictive licensing).

    I would install a lite version of Nero Burning ROM 6.x alongside ImgBurn. There are few such repacks released by third parties, such as Updatepack.nl. The lightweight version will have CD burnign and limited audio conversion functionality without the feature creep, like incremental backup, playback, etc.

    Foxit has gone down a similar path to Adobe Acrobat Reader. Its size has increased, it started to require installation, started to bundle shovelware with it, redesigned the UI to use the ribbon. Basically it sucked since version 3. PDF-Xchange Viewer is my choice because of its high rendering quality at a reasonable size. If enough memory is available, the program’s speed scales up well on large documents.

    Quite often an older version of a complex program, such as Photoshop, will have all the needed features at a fraction of memory footprint. This applies to most offline software, like sound, video, and text editors.

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