Review: Ninite turns setting up a new computer into a quick, painless process

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Ninite

    PCWorld Rating

    With Ninite, you can install numerous free applications at once. It's free, elegantly presented, and easy to use.

A new computer is like a box of chocolates... if the box were half-full of chocolates you didn't care for, and you had to get all of the good bonbons separately, one by one. In other words, new computers are often encumbered with unwanted software (also known as crapware), and don't come with the tools you really need to get work done. To get rid of the crapware, there's PC Decrapifier. But once that's gone, you have to install all of the good stuff--and where free utility Ninite can make your life blissfully simple.

You begin using Ninite before you even download it, by picking the software you want to install from a list on the Ninite website.

Unlike most applications, you start using Ninite before you even download it. Just go to Ninite.com and start ticking checkboxes for free applications you want to install on your computer. The catalog is rich, and includes perennial favorites such as Google Chrome and VLC, but also more obscure choices like the NVDA text-to-voice screen reader and WinMerge, a file comparison utility for developers.

Once you're done checking all of the boxes for the applications you'd like to install, click the big Get Installer button at the bottom of the page. Your computer will then download a tiny installer, customized according to your software choices. Run it, click "Yes" when Windows asks for Administrative permissions, and go have a cup of coffee (or lunch, depending on your Internet connection and software picks).

The installer is fuss-free and simple, with a single progress bar and no prompts.

When you come back, all of your software will be installed. It's that simple: Ninite asks no questions while running, and doesn't force you to click Next-Next-Next, agree to any EULAs, or to do anything really. The only issue it had when I tested it was that it failed to install Inkscape on the first go. I clicked the "retry/reinstall" link within Ninite, and after a few minutes, Inkscape was set up and ready to go.

If installing an application fails, you can easily retry (it worked the second time around).

Ninite offers a few software packages developers may like, such as Python and the Eclipse IDE, but doesn't offer Ruby, nor any other IDEs. Where it really shines is as a tool for getting a new computer quickly up to speed: It's a huge time-saver, and is probably the first application I will be installing on my new computer.

Note: The "Try it for free" button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can start using the service and download the latest version of the software.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    With Ninite, you can install numerous free applications at once. It's free, elegantly presented, and easy to use.

    Pros

    • Effortless installation
    • A rich selection of software
    • Free for personal use

    Cons

    • Website design feels a bit dated
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