December 5, 2009

The Short List – Must-have Software for Windows…

Information Level: Basic

All good, all free. Everyone running Windows should try out this software. Period.

Keep Secure:

Stay Tuned up:

  • Advanced SystemCare Free – Best allround tune up (be sure to un-check “start with windows” in the options after you install it).
  • Revo Uninstaller – For completely removing software you don’t want.
  • Defraggler – Defragment your hard drive every month, and use this.

Now get stuff done:

  • Firefox – Faster and more secure web browser than Internet Explorer
  • Thunderbird – Faster and more secure email client than Outlook/Outlook Express
  • OpenOffice.org – A full office suite for starving students and frugal businesses alike
  • Paint.NET – Great image editor, for all your picture-cropping-and-red-eye-removing needs.
  • Google Earth – See Earth from above (not to mention the Moon and Mars)!
  • VLC media player – Not flashy, but it can play almost anything… even corrupted or incomplete media files.
  • Sumatra PDF or Foxit Reader – Both are way faster and, again, more secure than the standard Adobe Reader.
  • CDBurnerXP – Great free CD and DVD burner.
  • 7-Zip – Open pretty much any compressed file you come across online.

There is, of course, lot more great free software out there, but I would call this a good baseline selection.

What must-have free software do you use?

November 16, 2009

AntiVirus – Now you (and I) really have no excuse…

Information Level: Basic

Well, I am impressed. The latest entry in to the realm of free (as in beer) antivirus software, Panda Cloud Antivirus, is closer to the Platonic Ideal of AV-ness than any I have seen before. Here’s why:

1. It works – PC World said in August that it was “the best app at blocking known malware,” and I can confirm it fulfills this essential function well.
2. It does not bog-down your PC in the process of doing it’s job. This is my main problem with antivirus software… and why as often as not I have had the bad habit of not running AV on my personal computer (I know, shame on me). But Cloud Antivirus has a diminutive >16mb ram footprint. Even I can live with that.
3. How it manages to do both 1 and 2 is darn clever. In a nutshell, all the serious antivirus processing and updating is done on Panda’s servers, they stream the latest signatures hashes to your client in real-time while collecting information on the latest threats from clients all over the world. Distributed intellegence comes to antivirus.
4. Oh, and it has a very simple and easy to use user interface. You won’t be able to accidentally disable your internet connection with it.

It WORKS, your PC still WORKS, it’s EASY to use, and it’s FREE. This makes Cloud Antivirus my new provisional favorite AV software, and the one I’ll be installing & recommending to my clients.

So, what are you waiting for… Go get it!

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