There is a bunch of software out there. Some good, some bad but there are some programs that are must have’s on any computer.
First, and most importantly, virus protection. Whether you’re buying a brand new computer or getting your hands on a previously owned one, you need to have virus protection if you’re using a PC. Microsoft Security Essentials makes an excellent product and it’s free! Click here to see our blog about Microsoft Security Essentials.
Have you ever gone to a webpage and things just don’t look right? You see square boxes with little red x’s in the top left hand corner and can’t figure out why you can’t view the content of the page properly. These two small programs will make all of your worries go away and will help your web experience tremendously. Adobe Flash Player allows you to view video on web pages properly. The majority of sites on the Internet are now using Flash Player and if you don’t have it installed, the page will not load correctly. Java… no not the coffee. Java is a small program that allows certain scripts to run on webpages. These scripts allow special content of the page to load correctly. Without this program installed, you could see those ugly square boxes with red x’s.
VLC Media Player: VLC Media Player is an excellent audio/video content player that installs special codecs (codecs are special files that allow certain types of video to play) on your computer that allows all types of audio/video to play. Windows comes with Window Media Player but it lacks several different codecs that Microsoft doesn’t support. With VLC Media Player you get all the codecs you need with one simple program.
We all know that Microsoft Office is essential. We need it to create word documents, spreadsheets, and power point presentations. The problem is Office is EXPENSIVE. There is a free program out there called Open Office. Open office contains its own version of Word, Excel, and Power Point. The program allows you to create, edit, and save documents/spreadsheets/power points all in a format that is compatible with Microsoft Office. Oh and did I mention it’s free? This is an excellent piece of software that is a must have if you don’t want to fork out the dough for Microsoft Office.
Real Player: See our blog about Real Player. With Real Player installed you have the option of downloading any video online and storing it on your local computer. What an excellent way to save video’s that you really want to keep.
iTunes: Whether you want to download your favorite tunes and organize them or subscribe to your favorite podcasts, iTunes is a software must have.
Mozilla Firefox: Much like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox is a web browser that allows you to view different web pages and Internet content. People usually say “I use Firefox because it’s faster than Internet Explorer.” That’s true to an extent. Your Internet speed will be only as fast as the connection to your computer. The reason why people seem to think Firefox is faster than Internet Explorer is because the program is able to process scripts much faster which allow Internet pages to load faster. I use Firefox as my default browser and love it.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware: The second most important piece of software on this list. This program IS NOT virus protection but it does remove spyware and viruses from your computer. This program DOES NOT protect your computer in real time from viruses. Ideally, you should have an antivirus program installed on your computer as well as this piece of software. This software does a fantastic job of removing “garbage” from your computer and allows it to run properly. You have to initiate the scan on this program but you’ll only need to run a scan twice a month or so to keep your computer in tip top shape. (Note: once this program is installed make sure you click on the update tab to install the latest updates for this software. Without the latest updates, the software will not pick up any “garbage” that’s new)
Mint: Mint is not a program you install on your computer per se, but it’s a website you go to. www.mint.com allows you to track all of your financial information in one, free, secure, easy to use website. You can link your bank accounts, credit card accounts, retirement accounts, and various other financial accounts all to this website for a full glimpse of your entire financial portfolio. You can even schedule bill reminders and payments from this site. It’s a great way to get yourself financially organized to actually see where every penny goes.
Looking for a way to organize all those photos at home? Windows Live Photo Gallery is great way to organize your photos. The program does it all for you! You simply drag and drop your photos into the program and it organizes them by date. You can even tag people in the photos so you can simply search for people instead of clicking through pictures. (note: Windows 7 required for Windows Live Photogallery) If you don’t have Windows 7, Picasa is a great, free alternative that will allow you to store, edit, and organize your photos.
Adobe Reader: Everyone has used Adobe Reader before. The program is pretty basic and it allows you to view (not edit) pdf documents.
Carbonite: You need to backup all of the data on your computer to protect yourself in case something were to happen to your computer. By using Carbonite you can. See our blog about Carbonite.
We hope you make use of this must have software. All of the above are free with the exception of Carbonite which costs $54.95 per year. You can click on each italicized word to be taken directly to the download page for each piece of software. Enjoy!