Links to keep
Media center that non-geeks can use
Free PC Game Classics
20 Essential PC Shortcuts
Sysinternals Suite
HWiNFO32 What kind of CPU is in your PC? Does it support hardware virtualization? How old it the BIOS? Are all of its core hardware components running withing normal voltage parameters? This is a free comprehensive hardware dianostics and inventory tool. Or you can use CPU-z, Everest, and SiSoftware Sandra but this one is FREE and has tremendous breadth of reporting.
Crap Cleaner
Recuva: recover deleted files Recuva can operate in "quick" mode, where it checks for deleted files in the higher-level disk structures, or in deep "scan" mode where it searches your media block by block. If you later decide that the file in question was really better off dead, Recuva can perform a secure delete operation to make sure that nobody else can recover the data anytime soon.

You'll want to keep a copy of Recuva handy for the inevitable panicked phone call from your accidental deleter. As with the other tools here, Recuva is completely free. There's even a portable version that you can run off of a thumb drive, so there's really no excuse to be caught unprepared when the inevitable occurs.
FileZilla. FileZilla makes transferring large quantities of files a snap. A capable queue management system helps keep the uploads and downloads humming along while a nearly endless selection of configuration options and protocol tweaks ensures that, whatever the situation, FileZilla will come through every time.
Virtual CloneDrive. Highly compatible with all versions of Windows, VCD makes it easy to mount and access an ISO image. Just right-click the VCD tray ico, select Mount from the context menu, and point the ensuing file open dialog to the desired ISO file. The image then appears as a virtual CD-ROM drive in Explorer, allowing you to access its contents like a real disk.
Defraggler. Another freebie by the folks of Crap Cleaner and Recuva. Defraggler is a Windows disk defragmentation utility that allows you to deframent individual files, folders, or an entire disk. Need to speed up access to that massive database file? Defraggle it. Want to improve performance for newly created files? Defraggle your disk's free space. You can even specify where specific files get stored on the disk, moving larger files that are accessed infrequently to the end of the disk media. A schedule, background option and portable version to take with you in the field are all free.
ImgBurn. Great freeware image burning tool. ImgBurn lets you transfer virtually any king of ISO image to virtually any kind of writeable optical media. There are other free utilities out there for burning discs (Alcohol 52% comes to mind). But none of them provide the level of flexibility or control over the burning process that ImgBurn does.
7-Zip. The answer to Windows anemic basic zip file support. This utility adds support for additional formats.
Supported formats:

  • Packing/unpacking: 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR
  • Unpacking only: ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, DEB, DMG, HFS, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MSI, NSIS, RAR, RPM, UDF, WIM, XAR, and Z.

VirtualBox from Sun Microsystems. An open source version lacking only USB support and an RDP server requires little study and supports Windows, Linux, Solaris and Max OS X hosts and guests (including 64-bit editions), Intel VT and AMD-V hardware virtualization extensions, OpenGL and DirectX 3D graphics acceleration, VMware and Microsoft virtual hard disk formats. Unlike other utilities, VirtualBox is available for free.