Seven Free Software Downloads
A reader asks: 'I just got a new laptop, and I want to do two things. First is to remove all the non-essential programs that came preloaded. Next, I want to load the best freeware for everday computing. I'd love to know what free software you recommend and use on your own computer.'
The Best Free Software
It's true... when you get a new computer, it usually comes loaded with a bunch of software you don't want or need. Most of them are free trials or crippled versions, designed to get you to upgrade to a paid version. In my article How to Clean Up Your Hard Drive, you'll find some tips for cleaning out this computer clogging "crapware" and reclaiming that space on your hard drive.
As to your second question, I'm happy to talk about freeware. There are thousands of free programs available online. But there are only a handful that I consider essential, and I download them to every new computer. From security to web browsing, to graphics, productivity, and troubleshooting, here are seven of the most popular and useful free downloads.
Google Chrome: the world's most widely used Web browser, with a commanding lead over Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Unlike its Microsoft competitor, Chrome is available for multiple operating systems, including a mobile version for Android devices. Other competitors include the Apple Safari and Opera browsers. Chrome's main selling features are speed, and a wide selection of free add-ons and extensions.
NoteTab is a text and HTML editor for Windows. At its most basic, NoteTab makes a good upgrade from the Windows NotePad text editor. But NoteTab can also handle complex Web projects with its ability to create templates, extensive formatting features, exhaustive search/replace, and vast capacity for multiple large files. NoteTab also competes with third-party editors such as UltraEdit, Crimson Editor, and EditPlus. NoteTab comes in three versions. The Lite version is free, even for commercial use. The Standard and Pro versions add additional features and must be purchased after a 30-day trial. The Standard version costs $19.95 while Pro is $29.95.
IrfanView is a freeware multimedia viewer and editing program. With this utility you can view, convert, optimize, scan and print virtually any kind of graphic image. You can crop, resize and edit photos, create slideshows, play movies, and much more. Legions of fans around the world have developed plugins for IrFanView, making it almost infinitely extensible.
Avast! Free Antivirus is one of the most popular free antivirus solutions. It includes a fast antivirus scanning engine; real-time protection for email attachments; technology to vet websites before you visit them; and much more. Other popular free antivirus programs include Avira and AVG Free. (Am I the only one who finds it annoying when websites and software insist on adding exclamation points to their names?) See my article Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus for more about the advanced features of Avast!
The free edition of MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (also known as MBAM) is a virus and spyware infection scanner and cleanup tool, while the Pro version proactively guards against and blocks malware before it can infection your machine. MBAM works across multiple drives, including networked drives. Like AVG, MBAM competes against a great many security utilities including Microsoft Security Essentials, Spybot S&D, and ComboFix. I recommend the free "scan on demand" version as an adjunct to your antivirus protection.
LastPass is a cloud-based password manager. First you install LastPass on your machine, then you create an account on the cloud server. LastPass syncs all of your passwords in its heavily fortified, encrypted database. Optionally, LastPass will delete all the locally stored passwords on your hard drive so no malware can steal them. Now you can log in to any site with just one click, or even have LastPass log in for you. LastPass versions are available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. LastPass competes with products such as RoboForm, KeePass, and MandyLion Password Manager.
Advanced System Care Free is one of the best system cleanup and optimization suites available. It keeps your PC running lean, mean, and fast. This program defragments your hard drive, cleans the registry, finds and eliminates spyware, plugs security holes in system settings, fixes broken shortcuts, deletes junk files, and erases browser tracks.
I can recommend all of these programs without reservation. But it's by no means an exhaustive list of the best freeware. See Part Two for seven MORE must-have software downloads. I welcome your comments and suggestions on this topic...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Nov 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Seven Free Software Downloads (Posted: 25 Nov 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved