Every week we put out a Hive Five Call for Contenders and ask you a simple question: Which is best? From DVD rippers to web hosts and everything in between, here's a look back at the most popular Hive Fives of 2010.
Photo remixed from an original by Matt Katzenberger
Sometimes the winner seems obvious from the start but the real value of the Hive Five isn't finding out the absolute most popular tool around, it's finding out four other very solid options you may have been unaware of.
You've got DVDs and you've got media servers and portable devices that need to be fed with fresh media. DVD-ripping tools bridge the gap and help you turn your optical media into files you can enjoy without a DVD player.
Windows 7 brought numerous improvements over previous incarnations of Windows-especially for those making the leap from Windows XP to Windows 7. People still love to tweak and customise their operating system, no matter how many improvements it contains. The Windows Tweaking Hive Five was one of our most popular for the entire year, testifying to the love the Lifehacker readership has for customisation.
Netbooks are inexpensive, popular, and prime targets for tweaking and custom operating systems. From Windows, Linux, and OS X as well as custom netbook-centric packages all made an appearance in this popular Hive.
Despite the popularity of web-based email clients more than a few desktop clients made a solid showing in the email Hive Five. If you're looking for something beyond your web-client that isn't Outlook, it's worth taking a peek.
The start page is the first thing you see when you open your browser or launch a new tab. If you're tired of looking at your browser's default page, the start pages Hive Five offers a variety of alternative pages.
Just because computers get easier and easier to use doesn't mean they don't need a checkup now and then. Load up your tool bag with five great tools so that when trouble strikes-and it will-you'll be ready to diagnose the problem.
If you're looking to set sail for the Isle of Sharing you'll need some directions. Torrent trackers help you find new files and direct your client to the swarm of people out there sharing them. Check out the five best public BitTorrent trackers to find the files you're looking for.
Virtual Private Network software allows you to join together far flung networks and the computers on them as though they were all sitting together in the same office. Whether you need to link your entire office to another office across the country on your home network to your buddy's across town, you'll find a tool to help in this Hive Five.
BitTorrent is great for sharing popular files, a dedicated server is great for sharing private files, but what about the times you just want to shoot a big file from your computer to a remote one? When you want to share files with no fuss and in private the five solutions in the file sharing Hive have you covered.
You've got monitors and lots of them. Grab some apps to maximize your bountiful screen real estate; don't let any of those precious pixels go to waste just idling away. This Hive Five includes tools that extend your task bar, manage your wallpapers, and enhance window and monitor management.
If you're not backing up your data you're playing a dangerous game-all disks die, it's just a matter of when. Hop into the Offline Backup Hive Five and grab an application or two to help you wrangle offline backups and ensure your data is secure.
Massive enterprise-level web hosting solutions are overkill for private and small-time web sites. In this particular Hive we took a look at the best personal web hosts and what made them well suited for adventures in personal web mastering.
Unless you enjoy people climbing in your windows and snatching your data up, you better be encrypting it. From whole disk encryption to encrypted volumes and portable files, the Encryption Tools Hive Five has everything you need to make sure your tax returns, diary, and extensive Sailor Moon collection is safe from prying eyes.
Curious what Hive topics were popular last year? You can check out the most popular Hive Fives of 2009 here.