If you need to install Windows on a computer or bunch of computers then you’ll likely want to install many applications that you use frequently. To install each of these applications individually takes a lot of time and it is pretty dull sitting there watching the process. Surely there is a better solution?
Most people will use Ninite for the installation of multiple apps on their Windows computers. Two experienced programmers who wanted to help people install their favorite applications without having to do any work developed Ninite. They wanted to help people to go and do something else while Ninite was busy installing everything.
Since the release of Ninite, it has become the number one choice for people that want to install popular applications on Windows computers. You can choose which applications you want from a large list which includes:
- Google Chrome and Firefox Web Browsers
- Skype, Trillian and Discord messaging apps
- VLC Media Player, Winamp, Spotify, Audacity and AIMP media apps
- Paint.net, Inkscape, Blender and Gimp graphics apps
- Open Office, CutePDF, Libre Office and Foxit Reader document apps
- Avast, Avira, Malwarebytes and AVG security apps
- OneDrive, Google Sync and Dropbox cloud apps
- WinRAR, PeaZip and 7-Zip file compression apps
And a lot more such as Evernote, CDBurnerXP, Team Viewer and lots of development tools.
There is a free version of Ninite which will do what most users want. For an additional $10/year you can automatically check for updates to the applications supported by Ninite so that there’s no need for you to perform manual updates.
You can also get a pro version of Ninite that enables you to manage all of your computers using a live web interface. Having used Ninite myself I was wondering if there were similar programs available. So I went looking and testing and I now bring you the 7 Ninite alternatives you should take a look at.
1. Chocolatey – Free version and Pro for $96/year
I have heard a lot about Chocolatey as a good Ninite alternative but I’d never used it before. When I went to the official website I saw that there was a huge amount of applications and utilities available for downloading on to Windows computers. I had to use a PowerShell to add the commands for the installations which was a bit tricky for me at first.
Things got a lot better when I downloaded the GUI from here. I needed to install .NET 4.5.2. and then I had a visible interface to keep track of what was installed and what wasn’t. You can install your favorite applications and leave it all unattended while you go and do something useful if you use Chocolatey.
I only used the open-source version of Chocolatey and I found that it did everything that I wanted. There is a Pro version but only businesses with lots of Windows computers will want to go for this. Some people have said that Chocolatey doesn’t install some applications well but I didn’t experience that.
2. Just Install – Free
Just Install is another good application for installing applications on Windows computers and is worthy of inclusion on my Ninite alternative list. It is quite similar to Chocolatey in the way that it works. You have to use a command-line process to install any of the popular applications.
Just Install will install all of the applications correctly and you will be able to see them using Control Panel. This means that you can uninstall them in the normal way. All Just Install applications download from their original sources and there’s no repackaging going on. It will just install the apps that you want and skip all dialogs and prompts.
I found that it was pretty easy to create a tailored .exe installer which will download and install all of the applications that I needed in one hit rather than using different command-line strings. I would say that it takes a bit of time to get the hang of using Just Install but I was able to learn pretty fast and it really helped with those tedious installs.
3. Silent Install Helper – Free
Yet another free Ninite alternative is Silent Install Helper. What impressed me about this great free app is that you are not limited to install specific applications as you are with other Ninite alternatives (and indeed Ninite itself). You can install all the applications of your choosing with Silent Install Helper.
There is no free lunch though. I had to first download all of the relevant program installers to the application before I was able to create my first batch of installations. Silent Install Helper will alert you if it thinks that a program installer is trying to install something unwanted such as adware.
It did take me a while to set up Silent Install Helper with the program installers that I wanted but after that everything was a breeze. It was great not to be restricted to choosing from a list of applications and being free to choose what I wanted to install.
4. Silent Install Builder – Free evaluation version and $299 for single-user license
Silent Install Builder is another good Ninite alternative. Although it has a hefty price tag you can use the free version which is fully functional to install your favorite applications on a Windows computer. You create install packages which contain the entire install files that you need to get all of the apps installed.
I found it pretty easy to create install packages with Silent Install Builder. The application was able to recognize the most commonly used installer setups such as Windows Installer, Install shield, Nullsoft Installer and Inno Setup. After I’d created my package I was able to install all of the programs on my computer completely unattended.
Similarly to Silent Install Helper, I had to download all of the install files for the apps that I wanted first and then add them to Silent Install Builder. Everything was very intuitive and the whole process went smoothly for me. There is a facility to use scripts to record the installation process if you need to install apps on many Windows-based computers.
5. RuckZuck – Free
Here we have another free Ninite alternative called RuckZuck. If your Windows version is lower than Windows 10 then you’ll need to install .Net Framework 4.6 before you can use it. I would describe this application as a portable program that enables you to install or update many applications.
The interface with RuckZuck is clear and simple. All I had to do was to choose the applications that I wanted on my computer and then hit the “Start Installation” button. It doesn’t get much easier than that. RuckZuck works by downloading the install files using PowerShell and then install them on the computer.
You will find that the available applications in organized groups for easier selection. The available groups are:
6. Windows Remix – Free
I liked the simplicity and functionality of Windows Remix and it has a deserved spot in my Ninite alternative list. After you have installed Windows you can sit back and let Windows Remix install some of your favorite applications for you. There is a good selection of applications available through Windows Remix:
- AVG Antivirus free
- Ad-Adware antivirus
- Avast free
- Avira free
- Bitdefender free
- Kaspersky Security Scan
- 360 Total Security
- Google Chrome
- Rambox Community
- Adobe Reader
- Foxit Reader
- Open Office
- Libre Office
- VLC Media Player
There are a few more applications that I haven’t mentioned. With Windows Remix you don’t have to do anything other than to select the apps you want to be installed and then start the process. It will install in bulk and will skip any reboots that some applications require (such as antivirus programs). You can just do one reboot at the end when everything is done.
7. Scoop – Free
My last entry in the Ninite alternative list is Scoop. Scoop is another command line installer similar to Chocolatey but it has one significant difference which is that it will install all of the applications in a Scoop folder off of your User folder. In this way, there is no requirement for administrator permissions.
I found it pretty easy to install applications from the Scoop repository. You don’t have to worry about dependency tracking just type in a specific command via PowerShell and you can start the installation process.
Keeping your applications up to date is straight forward with Scoop. All you need to do to update Scoop is to enter another command via Powershell and another to update all of the applications you’ve installed. You can even choose to update a single application if that’s what you want.
Which Ninite Alternative then?
The first thing to say is that you don’t need to spend any money on Ninite alternatives if you are just going to use the application for installing your favorite apps on your home computer after a fresh Windows installation. If you want to install on multiple computers then that’s a different story.
Are you comfortable with using PowerShell and entering commands? There’s not much to it if you follow the instructions precisely. Chocolatey is a favorite and Scoop too for command-driven installers and there is even a GUI add on for Chocolatey to make things easier.
If you want a more simple approach, try RuckZuck or Windows Remix. Choosing your applications and not choosing from a list of apps offered by a Ninite alternative is possible with both the Silent Install Helper and Silent Install Builder. You will need to do some work to gather install files first though.