From the October 1999 issue of Startups

Nothing makes you feel more frustrated than a hard drive that's crashed. Hard Drive Mechanic Deluxe gives you back your self-respect by automatically repairing bad FATs, disk partitions, boot sectors--and other geeky gobbledygook that becomes supremely important when a PC's gasping its last. Plus, Hard Drive Mechanic Deluxe will be your canary in a coal mine, giving you advance warning about key mechanical and electronic-drive components that are soon to be silicon has-beens. Your choice: Crash and burn, or crash and learn.

Hard Drive Mechanic Deluxe

Street price: $45

Requires: Windows 3.1, DOS and Windows 95/98, 8MB RAM (installs from a floppy disk in floppy-disk drive), Windows 95 OSR2 or Windows 98 boot disk

Higher Ground Diagnostics

Lawrenceville, Georgia

(770) 956-7276

http://www.highergroundsoftware.com


J.W. Dysart (joedysart@aol.com), a software analyst and Internet business consultant, has written for more than 40 publications, including The New York Times.

Speed Of Sight

Let your competitors create e-commerce sites with bloated, slow-loading graphics that no one has the patience to download. With your site, take the fast-load, smooth-as-ice-cream approach. WebRazor Pro guarantees that winning combination with tools that squeeze all the fat from pix, animation and 3-D design. Its higher-powered GIF, JPG and PNG optimization alone can reduce file sizes by as much as 80 percent. Result: While visitors at competitors' sites are yawning, your customers are reaching for their plastic.

WebRazor Pro

Street price: $129

Requires: Windows 95/98, MS DirectX 6.0 for COOL 3d, QuickTime 3.0, 8MB RAM, 30MB hard-drive space

Ulead

Los Angeles

(310) 523-9393

http://www.webutilities.com

Clip It

Chances are, you probably won't use all million and one images in MasterClips, but it's nice to know they're there. Don't like a particular artist's graphic style? No problem--there are dozens more to suit your fancy. Besides voluminous clip art, you'll also find a huge collection of Web-ready images, animated GIFS and still photos. Also quite handy is the software search engine. Type in "pigs," for example, and you're presented with thumbnail sketches of oinkers galore. Note: Half the software's images come with the CD; the other half are downloadable from IMSI's MasterClips ArtToday.com Web-library http://www.arttoday.com

MasterClips 1,000,0001

Street price: $79

Requires: Windows 95/98, 8MB RAM, 10MB hard-drive space, Internet connection

IMSI

San Rafael, California

(800) 833-4674

http://www.imsisoft.com

Banner Up!

Like many ideas destined for greatness, Headline Studio 1.0 does one thing very well. Almost effortlessly, it creates Web banner ads--those eye-grabbing bursts of color and text that zip across the more sophisticated commercial Web sites. Design one for your own Web site that features any number of fades, motion blurs, scaling and the like. Then go on to cut deals with other commercial Web sites to run your company's banner ad as well. A major bonus: Headline Studio 1.0 creates banner ads with highly sophisticated effects that are also lightning-quick to download. Apparently, Metacreations thought of everything with this one.

Headline Studio 1.0

Street Price: $199

Requires: Windows 95/98/NT 4.0 with SP3 (a service pack that can be downloaded from the web site mentioned below), 32Mb RAM, 5Mb hard-drive space

Metacreations

Carpinteria, California

(805) 566-6464

http://www.metacreations.com

On The Right Track

Go figure, software that actually helps a PC do what it was always supposed to do: automatic things. Specifically, Enfish Tracker Pro automatically cross-references related data in your PC's files, e-mails, documents and Web files with nary a complaint. Like your own personal librarian, Enfish Tracker Pro helps you to rediscover valuable buried information, make insightful associations and alert you to new data. Best of all, it works with all the major software suites and programs, including those by Microsoft, Lotus, Corel, Eudora, AOL Mail, cc: Mail and ACT!. Only downside: Even with Enfish Tracker Pro, you'll still have to match your own socks.

Enfish Tracker Pro

Street Price: $80

Requires: Windows 95/98/NT 4.0, 32 Mb RAM, 50 Mb hard-drive space, internet connection

Enfish Technologies

Pasadena, California

(800) 222-ENFISH

http://www.enfish.com

Under Wraps

For too many of us, a stranger's peek inside our PCs can reveal the depths of our innermost thoughts and dreams--entrepreneurial and otherwise. PGP Security Suite guards against the most prying of looky-loos with industrial strength encryption technology. PC novices will appreciate that this program protects a PC's hard drive with a password--and encrypts Internet e-mail. More advanced users will like that the package encrypts Internet e-mail. More advanced users will like that the package encrypts data at the disk volume level---ffering stronger security than other encryption programs. Suite bonuses: Guard Dog, which secures your PC for Web browsing with antivirus, privacy and security protection, and Oil Change, which enables you to automatically update the Suite via the Web.

PGP Security Suite

Street Price: $80

Requires: Windows 95/98/NT, 18 Mb RAM, 36 Mb hard-drive space

McAfee

Santa Clara, California

(800) 764-3337

http://www.mcafee.com