Thursday, 18 February 2010

Great free software for a new Laptop or Desktop PC

There are some great free programs available that are must haves for setting up a new laptop or desktop PC:

1. Firefox - an obvious candidate for secure browsing, particularly recommended are the plugins Adblock Plus which allows selective display of advertising on sites helping to speed up display of pages. For the truly security conscious the Javascript blocking plugin NoScript which disables Javascript on a selective basis. Using the easy to access controls you can allow certain elements of a page to load and run or allow a complete site to run Javascript but by having the default blocking Javascript it significantly lowers the risk of visiting pages which may have malicious scripts running. Note that many Javascript exploits are cross platform and effect all moderns operating systems.

2. 7zip - Open source, easy to use utility for manipulating compressed archives. Ideal for compressing files for emailing or archiving large collections of files for storage. Formats 7z, ZIP, GZIP, BZIP2 and TAR are supported fully, other formats can be unpacked. Supports AES 256bit encrypted archives (secure password protected) which are cross platform and can be opened on Macs and Linux.

3. Irfanview a very fast picture viewer, which handles a huge number of image file types and can manipulate images a by applying resizing and filter plugins. Can be used to batch convert many image types from one type to another.

4. Foxit reader this is a very fast and smaller alternative to the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader software. Allows you to annotate PDF documents.

5. Thunderbird the email client counterpart to Firefox - fast, configurable and easy to use. Easily customisable with skins and hundreds of plugins.

6. Spyware removal tool Spyware Doctor this is an accredited and thorough spyware checking and removal tool.

7. Avast antivirus a free and effective antivirus tool. A good paid equivalent is Trend Micro, Trend Micro also offer a free online virus check The bundled limited trials of software such as Norton/McAfee etc. often are very bloated packages which significantly slow down your laptop.

8. Picasa an excellent picture/image library and editor from Google. Much better than most software bundled with digital cameras. Similar to iPhoto on the Mac, with face recognition and online albums.

9. Launchy Launch programs and documents with a simple keystroke, much faster than using the Start menu. “Launchy is a free windows and linux utility designed to help you forget about your start menu, the icons on your desktop, and even your file manager. Launchy indexes the programs in your start menu and can launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes!”

10. Notepad++ a great, tabbed notepad replacement for plain text writing. Plain text files are ideal for simple lists, notes and drafts. They are readable by any computer and very small. A portable version of Notepad++ is available that can be run from a USB stick. Ideal for editing system files, quick notes, html editing and coding with syntax colouring.

11. VLC VLC is a media player that seems to be able to play anything you give it. So if you have trouble playing back a video file, try VLC.

12. Dropbox Dropbox is a free applicationa and service that allows you to sync files across PCs, Macs and Linux computers. 2gb free when you sign up. Files are availabel online.
Dropbox creates a folder on your PC and can be used to
  • sync files across several machines
  • access your files via the website
  • storage for back up files
  • share large files to other people
  • set up shared access for several people to a folder or files
  • host image galleries
  • compatible with Truecrypt containers etc.
  • all files remain on your PC/s as well of course
  • it actually works, unlike many of these things
Also dropbox has
a decent versioning system so if you change or delete a file you can look back at previous saves and restore previous versions. The developers are helpful and very active in releasing new versions, check the forum for the latest experimental builds of Dropbox.

2gb storage is free.
If you register using my personal link, below, I get more free space and so do you (above the usual 2gb)

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