The Download Directory - November 2012 (Part 1) - USB Disk Security 6.2, WindowBlinds 7.4

11/9/2012 9:12:18 AM

We scour the internet for the best freeware, shareware and paid-for application releases

Welcome again to the latest installment of The Download Directory. Each month, you’ll find us scouring the internet in the hope of bringing to light the latest application releases, software updates and browser plug-ins that you don’t know you can’t live without. We cover everything from freeware to shareware to budget-price commercial software, and review everything from giant, multi-application office suites to the tiniest system tray applets. As long as you can download it, we’ll take a look at it.

This month, our investigations have uncovered USB Disk Security, a program that protects your USB keys from harm, and, more importantly, from causing harm; WindowBlinds, a desktop-theme manager that can visually transform Windows on the most minute levels; BlueScreenView, a fantastic crash analysis tool; and Multiplicity, a multi-PC manager that makes using ten PCs as easy as using one. As well as all that, we also have a quick look at the latest beta versions to be released this month to help you keep track of the new releases that are coming your way soon.

USB Disk Security 6.2

USB keys are great at letting you transfer files between desktops, laptops, and even other devices at times when the internet is too slow to do so. Whether you’re transporting large files like movies, or a large amount of music or images, a USB drive lets you put gigabytes of data in your pocket. However, there’s one problem: the same qualities that make USB keys so attractive as portable data storage also make them a great target for viruses and other malware. The more computers you use it in, the better chance there is of something evil hitching a lift.

USB Disk Security is a program developed by ZB Shareware Lab to secure USB keys (and the data on them) as you move them from one PC to the next. Simple to use, the application is compatible with many different anti-virus and anti-malware suites, all of which it uses to scour the key for viruses before you get infected.

The interface is easy to get to grips with, featuring bright, clear icons, laid out in an easy-to-navigate manner. Tasks are easy to access, making it simple not just to scan the drive, but to manage the files on it, and even perform a ‘safe’ open, which bypasses any Windows default hooks that a virus might have hijacked. Some of the features arguably go a little too far (the ‘safe browsing’ tool changes your homepage to ZB Shareware’s own concoction, which crosses a line most people wouldn’t expect to see crossed by USB protection software), but in general it’s good at what it does.

The software is free to download and try, but a full license costs a rather hefty $55. For that, you do get lifetime updates and tech support, but let’s not pretend those are features most people are crying out for, especially when free alternatives exist. Slightly more interesting are the extra tools you get, which includes system tools such as a disk clean-up utility, repair system utility and auto start manager.

It’s fair to say that it isn’t perfect, and perhaps it’s a little too simplistic and clunky for some users. Certainly we’d have preferred something that integrates as seamlessly as possible into the process of accessing USB keys, rather than hijacking it entirely, but if you’re not bothered by that, it’s decent enough. If only the registration price wasn’t frankly outrageous, we could see an audience for this.

The same qualities that make USB keys so attractive as portable data storage also make them a great target for viruses


Release Type:




Official Site:


Dead simple, surprisingly powerful.


A little too controlling - it makes its presence well-known. And it’s very expensive



WindowBlinds 7.4

Description: WindowBlinds 7.4

If you find the default Windows visuals a little too corporate and uniform for your liking, there’s hope for a more individualistic appearance, and that hope comes in the form of WindowBlinds, a program that lets you apply skins not just to programs but to every default Windows element as well.

Developed by StarDock, WindowBlinds makes the process of applying skins to the whole of Windows into a simple, one-click process rather than forcing you to slog your way through each individual element in some control panel menu somewhere. A selection of pre-configured themes means you can customize the appearance of your operating system to a near-astonishing degree.

Far from telling you anything useful, BSODs virtually taunt users

As you’d expect from an application based on improving appearances, the interface is slicker than a BP corporate brochure. A scrolling lower panel displays previews of how the themes will look when applied, making browsing and switching into a simple, seamless act. If you’re unsure about how to operate such a program, you’ll get a brief tour the first time you run it, which points out all of the interesting features.

The program is further divided into tabs specifically based on things like fonts, colors, textures, wallpapers and transparency options, all of which are available for you to sample and modify at your heart’s desire. The pre-defined options are great fun too – faux wood panelling adds a rustic touch to Windows, while the Windows 8-inspired designs give Windows 7 a clean, modern look without forcing you to submit to the Metro interface. Genius!

You can spend hours playing with the look of your operating system, tweaking the specifics and experimenting with different looks until you find one that suits you. If you do decide to make a change, however, you’ll have to submit to the nag screen, which will constantly remind you that you have a limited number of days before your artistic creation is ripped from your fingers.

The trial only lasts for 30 days, but other than the nag screen, it’s almost completely unlimited. If you grow to love the power the software gives you, registration is a fairly reasonable $19.95, with future updates available at the reduced price of $9.95. Buying the software also gives you access to thousands of additional skins and backgrounds - more than enough to get hours of customization fun out of the program. It may not be your thing, and that’s fine, but if you’re into modifying the appearance of Windows, this is a virtual gift.


Release Type:




Official Site:


Sleek, slick, simple to use.


The nag screen is a little annoying (but then that’s the point of them).




Most View
Windows 8 vs OS X Mountain Lion (Part 7)
Programming .NET Components : Building a Distributed Application (part 4) - Administrative Type Registration, Administrative Configuration Example
The Apple Buyer's Guide (Part 3) - MacBookPro, MacBook Air
Gaming Mouse CM Storm Reaper
SQL Server 2005 Native XML Web Services : Example Native XML Web Services Project (part 1) - Creating the SQL Server Functionality
Which Is The Real Best-Seller Ultrabook? (Part 2) - Gigabyte U2442, Samsung Series 9 900X, HP Envy 6
CANON EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
Canon Powershot N 12.1MP Digital Camera with Wi-Fi (Part 2)
Tablet Group Test – December 2012 (Part 1) : Archos 101 XS
Windows 8 : Managing traditional desktop applications (part 1) - Using Windows Installer in Windows 8, Running Windows Installer packages and MSIExec
Top 10
Sharepoint 2010 : InfoPath Forms Services - InfoPath Overview (part 5) - Using InfoPath Forms in SharePoint - Creating Document Information Panels
Sharepoint 2010 : InfoPath Forms Services - InfoPath Overview (part 4) - Using InfoPath Forms in SharePoint - Adding Formulae to Fields, Publishing a Form Template to SharePoint
Sharepoint 2010 : InfoPath Forms Services - InfoPath Overview (part 3) - Using InfoPath Forms in SharePoint - Creating Form Templates
Sharepoint 2010 : InfoPath Forms Services - InfoPath Overview (part 2) - BrowserForm Web Part
Sharepoint 2010 : InfoPath Forms Services - InfoPath Overview (part 1)
Mercedes-Benz B180 CDI Edition 1 – Bells And Whistles
The Mercedes-Benz A180 CDI Edition 1 – Classier A
2015 BMW M3 & 2015 BMW M4 - Return Of The King (Part 3)
2015 BMW M3 & 2015 BMW M4 - Return Of The King (Part 2)
2015 BMW M3 & 2015 BMW M4 - Return Of The King (Part 1)