Software that I use

Here is a list of software that I use on my PCs.

These software programs work for me so I recommend them.

Many are free, some are commercial products and some are free with paid versions that offer more features.

Use your favorite search engine to find out more about the programs and to download them.

Antivirus – full time

The full time antivirus I use is either Avast! Free or a free Microsoft product – Security Essentials (for Windows XP, Vista and 7) or Defender (for Windows 8).  The full time antivirus inspects files and Internet pages for malware in real time as they are accessed.  It automatically updates itself often for new virus threats.  Note only one full time antivirus should be installed.  Alternative full time antivirus programs include Kaspersky, AVG, McAfee, Norton and others.

Antivirus – on-demand

The on-demand virus scanner I use Malwarebytes.  If I ever suspect that I may have a malware problem – the PC suddenly runs slow or behaves oddly – then I stop what I’m doing and run Malwarebytes.  After starting Malwarebytes, update the virus definitions then run a quick or full scan.  I also run Malwarebytes once a month or so for maintenance.  An alternative on-demand virus scanner is SuperAntiSpyware.

Alternate Browsers

The Microsoft browser Internet Explorer (IE) is part of Windows but is considered the least secure browser.  I use Firefox or Chrome instead of IE.  Other alternatives include Safari and Opera.  Please use an alternate browser for better Internet security.

Email

I use the online services Gmail, Hotmail/Outlook and Yahoo for email.  I do not recommend storing your email in local programs such as Outlook, Windows Mail, Eudora, etc. unless you have a specific reason.  Online mail services have the big advantages of 1) being accessible from any Internet device and 2) being automatically backed up.

Office programs – word processing and spreadsheets

I use Microsoft Office (Word and Excel) or Google Docs.  Alternatives include OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Microsoft SkyDrive and even the built in Windows WordPad for simple document creation.  Cloud services (Google Docs, Skydrive and Office 365) are handy because the documents are available from any Internet connected device and are backed up automatically.

Backup

I use 2 data backup systems – a local USB drive and an Internet cloud backup service.  For my local backup I use the Windows Backup program and a 2 TB external USB hard drive.  For my cloud backup service I use Carbonite (about $60/year).  Both systems take time and care to set up.  Windows Backup must be configured for what, when and where files are backed up.  Carbonite must also be configured – not all file types (ie video) are backed up by default.  After backup is working, it is essential to test the backups by retrieving data and confirming that it is working.  There are many alternative local backup programs and backup services.  Backup could be as simple as copying files to a USB drive.   Please backup any stuff that you would hate to lose.

Cloud storage services

I use Google Drive, Dropbox and SkyDrive for storing documents in the cloud.  Cool feature: Google Drive and Dropbox both also provide an automatic upload/backup of my Android mobile phone pictures with the Android apps Google+ and Dropbox installed and configured.   Google Drive and SkyDrive provide office capabilities (word processing, spreadsheet) programs as well.  Alternative cloud services include iCloud, UbuntuOne, Box, Sugarsync and others.

PC files cleanup

I use CCleaner to delete temporary files on my PC.  Temp files include browser cache files, system temp files, system dump files and more.  This program will also delete browser and program history for privacy.  Although one can delete files and history from within browsers and Windows Disk Cleanup, this is way easier.  CCleaner also has advanced PC maintenance tools in one convenient place.

Media player

I use VLC media player for video and audio files.  Alternatives include Windows Media Player and iTunes.

Collect, store and share data between devices

Evernote is a terrific program to store notes, clippings and information between all your Internet devices plus it is all backed up.

Password manager

I use LastPass to store my passwords.  I just have to remember my LastPass password and LastPass will automatically log me on to web sites.  Remember that unique, complex passwords are important for security.

Following is a list of software that I find useful for specialized and advanced projects

  • Managing updates on my PCs – Secunia PSI

  • Video and audio calls – Skype

  • Make backups of DVDs – DVD Shrink

  • Edit audio – Audacity

  • Burn data and image files – ImgBurn

  • Mount iso images – DAEMON Tools

  • Data compression – 7-zip

  • Data and disk encryption – TrueCrypt

  • ftp client – FileZilla

  • Disk recovery – SpinRite

  • NTFS file system checking – Windows Disk Tools Error Checking

  • File access problems – Unlocker

  • Alternative PDF reader – Foxit

  • Software uninstaller – Revo

  • VPN – ProXPN

  • Screen capture – ScreenHunter

  • File undelete – Recouva

  • Disk use visualization – Spacemonger

  • File split and join – hjsplit

  • Viewing PC specifications – Speccy, System Information for Windows

  • Viewing Windows, Office product keys – Magic Jellybean

  • Disk imaging and cloning – Acronis True Image
  • Remote desktop assistance – TeamViewer
  • Microsoft on-demand virus scanners – Windows Defender Offline and Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool
  • Free blog site – wordpress.com
  • File synchronizing between computers – BitTorrent Sync
  • File synchronizing between devices – Microsoft SyncToy
  • Photo editing – Windows Paint, Polyview
  • Storing and sharing photos on the Internet – Flickr (Yahoo), Picasa (Google)
  • Social Media – Facebook, Google+
  • Video sharing – YouTube

I realise that there are many more good programs and software out there.  What are your favorites?

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