Nov 18, 2009

15 Free Must-Install Programs for Your New PC

Courtesy: Make Use of

These are the essential programs that we recommend you install and keep on your arsenal.

1. Firefox / Chrome (Web Browser)
2. AVG Anti-Virus (Anti-virus Software)
3. Auslogics Disk Defrag (Disk Defragmener)
4. Advanced SystemCare Free (System Maintenance)
5. Security 360 (Spyware Removal)
6. IZArc (Universal Archiver / Extractor)
7. Google Picasa Software (Photo Management)
8. doPDF (PDF Printer)
9. Memento (Post-It Notes)
10. xVideoServiceThief (YouTube Video Downloader)
11. Mozy (Backup)
12. Digsby (Multi-protocol Instant Messenger)
13. VLC Media Player (Video Player)
14. Foobar2000 (Music Player)
15. ImgBurn (CD / DVD Image Burner)

1. Firefox / Chrome (Web Browser)

Both Firefox and Google Chrome are excellent browsers. They are both fast, user-friendly and known to be secure. So, which one do you choose? The rule of thumb here is that you should use Firefox if you’re looking to add additional features (i.e. ad blocker, password manager, video downloader, page translator etc.) to your browser.

You can see all add-ons for Firefox at https://addons.mozilla.org/. There are extensions for Google Chrome as well, but the choice is rather limited. See, 10 Cool Extensions for Google Chrome.

2. AVG Anti-Virus (Anti-virus Software)

AVG Free Anti-Virus is the most popular free anti-virus software in the world. It’s also the most downloaded software program according to Download.com.

Most of the MakeUseOf authors use AVG and we highly recommend it to others. It’s easy to use, consumes a relatively small amount of system resources and auto-updates itself with virus definitions on a daily basis. Install it once and it will keep your system secure without your intervention.

For those of you who frequently shop online and do regular online banking, AVG recommends AVG Internet Security. While it’s not free, it does offer complete Internet Protection that will keep you safe even from advanced online threats.

Download AVG Free: http://free.avg.com/gb-en/homepage
Download AVG Internet Security (Free Trial): www.avg.com/gb-en/download

(Platform: Windows only)

3. Auslogics Disk Defrag (Disk Defragmenter)

Auslogics Disk Defrag is a must-have free PC maintenance tool that was designed to cure system sluggishness and prevent crashes caused by disk fragmentation. Windows already comes with its own disk-defragmenter but Auslogics Disk Defrag is considerably faster and much more efficient.

It’s extremely simple to use, does not require any analysis phase and is faster than most of the other disk defragmentation software.

While there are several other free disk defragmenters, Auslogics seems to be the defragmenter of choice according to the poll results on MakeUseOf, Lifehacker and mega tech sites like CNET.

Download: www.auslogics.com/en/software/disk-defrag/overview

(Platform: Windows only)

4. Advanced SystemCare Free (System Maintenance)

Advanced SystemCare (ACS) Free provides a simple way for non-techie users to perform routine maintenance and apply system optimization tweaks. It’s an all-in-one system utility protecting, cleaning, repairing, and speeding up your PC.

Currently ACS is the most downloaded system utility according to download.com. The tool is very simple to use and comes with a "one-click fix" button that can automatically run all optimizations and repair tools with a click of a button.

There are a few things you should keep in mind before using system maintenance tools like ACS. While the program is VERY useful it needs some care on your behalf. Make sure to go through all the settings in the program and set it to create Windows restore points every time you run ACS. This will make sure that you can always revert your PC to an earlier state in case something goes wrong unexpectedly.

The Advanced SystemCare Free integrates more diagnostic and repair utilities than any other alternative (i.e. CCleaner). But there is also a PRO version that comes with even more features including deeper registry scan, more comprehensive speedup tools, and scheduling capability. Highly recommended.

Note: The installation includes a security toolbar for your browser, make sure to uncheck it.

Download: http://www.iobit.com/advancedwindowscareper.html

(Platform: Windows only)

5. Security 360 (Spyware Removal)

This new security software comes from the same company as the above mentioned AdvancedSystem Care. Its purpose is to keep your computer safe from spyware, hijackers, keyloggers and other kind of milicious craplets.

While the IObit Security 360 is a relatively new entrant, it already ranks in the top 10 security downloads on Download.com, outnumbering the extremely popular Spyware Search and Destroy.

Now, what you should know is that there are dozens of free spyware removal tools out there, but only a small number of those are known to be good and recommended in tech circles. These are Spyware Search & Destroy, Lavasoft and MalwareBytes.

However, when you look at the free version of the above mentioned alternative products, you will see that none of them comes with a real-time computer monitoring. That it to say, these tools can remove spyware after it has been installed on your system, not prevent it from installing itself. The IObit’s Security 360 on the other hand includes a two level real-time protection that prevents spyware from installing itself in the first place.

When it comes to spyware detection the Security 360 scores pretty good as well. It also claims to have the fastest scan. They even hold a $25.000 contest inviting amateurs and security experts to test Security 360 against ANY FREE or LIMITED USE anti-malware program.

The IObit Security 360 comes both in a free and a PRO version (not free). The free version has everything you will find in the PRO version apart from automatic definition updates and automatic system scan. Those aren’t really essential unless you don’t mind running them manually once in a while.

Note: The installation includes a a security toolbar for your browser, make sure to uncheck it.

Download: http://www.iobit.com/security360.html?Str=download

(Platform: Windows only)

6. IZArc (Universal Archiver / Extractor)

One archive utility to rule them all. You no longer need a separate program for ZIP, RAR, ACE, 7-ZIP, TAR files and so on, IZArc can handle ALL of them.

Basically this unpacker/archiver gives you everything you get with other popular archivers (ex. Winzip, Winrar etc.) but with additional features and support for a huge number of archive formats. It can decompress archived folders in over 40 formats. It supports pretty much every format you’re likely to come across.

There is something else, you can also use the IZArc utility to open CD image files like ISO, BIN, CDI and NRG. Do you know of any other free archiver that can do that?

Note: When installing IZArc make sure to uncheck the "recommended" option to install PalTalk.

Download: http://www.izarc.org/download.html

(Platform: Windows only)

7. Google Picasa Software (Photo Management)

Picasa automatically finds all the photos on your PC, wherever they are, and organizes them in seconds. It’s an excellent photo manager, editor and viewer for your computer.

With Picasa not only you can nicely organize your photos but also fix common problems (i.e. red eyes), add cool effects and even browse photos by people in them. Yes, it includes face recognition!

Plus one really cool thing about it is that regardless of changes you make to your photos on Picasa the original version of each photo always preserved.

Features include:

- create video slideshows and photo collages from your photos.
- organize photos based on the people in them.
- browse photos by folders, albums, people.
- geotag your photos on Google Maps.
- one-click fixes for common problems like red-eye, color, and lighting.
- 12 cool effects to make your best photos look even better.

You can find out more about Picasa by watching this Youtube video. The Google team compiled a getting started guide for Picasa. Highly recommended for new users.

Download: http://picasa.google.com/

(Platform: Windows / Mac / Linux)

8. doPDF (PDF Printer)

Almost everyone once in a while needs to convert documents to PDF. The doPDF is the easiest tool that does exactly that. It installs a virtual printer on your computer that you can select using the print option from any program on Windows.

Whenever you need to convert a web page, Word document, Excel spreadsheet, photo or pretty much anything else to a PDF file just go to the print option in your program and select doPDF from the ‘Printer’ drop-down menu.

You can set the resolution to anything from 72 dpi to 2400 dpi, and the "printed" files are text searchable.

Download: http://download.cnet.com/doPDF-Free-PDF-Converter/3000-18497_4-10648880.html

(Platform: Windows only)

9. Memento (Post-It Notes)

Chances are you have never heard about this program before. Memento is a simple bare-bones post-it notes program for your desktop. It’s better than anything else out there because it’s extremely simple and yet a very effective tool.

Whether you want a program to keep track of your tasks or quick note taking, Memento can help. It’s very intuitive to use and consumes very few system resources. Highly recommended!

It’s an excellent program – and I’ve compared many other free ones! I have been using this for the last 5 years and recommend it to everyone. The very first MakeUseOf article was about this app :-).

It’s also easily transferrable from one PC to another, it saves all your notes in Memento.notes file that is stored in the My Documents folder.

Features:

- double click memento icon on the taskbar to create a note
- show/hide notes on the desktop
- keep notes expanded or closed
- notes always remain on top of other windows
- position notes anywhere you like
- instant autosave
- notes are resizable
- randomly makes each note a new color
- make notes transparent

Download: http://www.guyswithtowels.com/downloads.html

(Platform: Windows only)

10. xVideoServiceThief (YouTube Video Downloader)

Almost everyone is on Youtube these days. And the fact that Youtube has more searches than Yahoo is good indication of this. The only issue with Youtube is that there is no option to download videos so that you can watch them on your computer, PSP, iPhone, mobile phone, iPod etc.

Fortunately there are lots of free software for that, and my favorite is xVideoServiceThief. Apart from downloading videos, it can automatically convert the downloaded video file to another format.

xVideoServiceThief can convert videos to several formats, including AVI, MOV, MPEG, DIVX, MP4 and several others.

Moreover, xVideoServiceThief works with other sites as well, not only Youtube. It can also download videos from Yahoo Video, Google Videos, Metacafe, Dailymotion, CollegeHumor etc.

Download: http://xviservicethief.sourceforge.net/index.php?action=downloads

(Platform: Windows / Mac / Linux)

11. Mozy (Backup)

Backups are very important! Here on MakeUseOf we have published dozens of articles explaining why you should always keep a fresh backup of important data. And Mozy is the perfect program for that. It’s an online backup and recovery service that allows you to select files and folders on your computer and safely back them up online.

It’s fully automated, just set it once and it will do the backups without bothering you again. What’s even better, whenever you make changes to individual documents or files within selected folders, your changes will be replicated on your backup copy as well. So your backup always stays up-to-date.

In the case of file corruption, accidental deletion or hardware failure, you may easily restore your backed up files from the web to the original computer or any another computer, be it a Windows or Mac.

Mozy offers both free and premium accounts (only $4.95/month). The only difference between those two is that free account comes only with 2GBs of storage space. It should be more than enough for backing up important files and documents. On the other hand, if you want to backup your music library, photos, videos or maybe an entire drive then we recommend signing up for a premium account.

(Note: Discount for MakeUseOf users. When signing up for premium account use ‘ MAKEUSEOF’ (all caps) promo code to get 10% off.)

Download Mozy (Free): https://mozy.com/registration/free/
Download Mozy (Unlimited): https://mozy.com/registration/unlimited/

(Platform: Windows / Mac)

12. Digsby (Multi-protocol Instant Messenger)

If you chat on a regular basis and are active on social networks then this is a must-have program for you. There is so much this app does that it’s hard to explain it all in a few lines. Firstly, it’s a universal instant messenger that allows you to chat with your friends on MSN, Yahoo, AIM, Google Talk, Facebook, Myspace, ICQ and Jabber, all from a single messenger.

Secondly, it allows you to read and reply to your emails. That’s right folks, whether you have a Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail account you can receive and reply to emails all from Digsby’s slick interface. Currently Disgby works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, AOL/AIM Mail, POP Email, IMAP Mail accounts.

And that’s not all, you may also monitor alerts and set status message notifications for Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and LinkedIN accounts. Pretty cool, huh!

Other less important but still noteworthy features include:

- chat history (with search option)
- file transfer history to keep a log of sent/received files
- a widget for site owners to chat with visitors

(Note: Pay close attention when installing Digsby on your computer and make sure to deselect (selected on default) the additional components you don’t need. Plus, once the app is installed go to the preferences window and disable Digsby research.)

Download: www.digsby.com

(Platform: Windows / Mac / Linux)

13. VLC Media Player (Video Player)

With over 67 million downloads so far and roughly 7 downloads per second it’s one of the most popular video players around.

VLC is a highly portable multimedia player supporting most audio and video formats and can play pretty much any video files you throw at it, including physical media like DVDs. Plus it doesn’t need any external codec, program or codec pack to work.<

The VLC can be used both by beginners as well as expert users for working with video files.

The player can also play Youtube videos, convert video files, play subtitles, etc.

Download: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

14. Foobar2000 (Music Player)

The foobar2000 is an advanced audio player for Windows and supports pretty much all popular audio formats. This is an audio player of choice for many audiophiles (the reader polls on MakeUseOf and Lifehacker confirm that). But what’s in it for you? Well, leaving aside its rich feature set, there are two things that make it stand out from the crowd.

First, when it comes to the appearance of the player, it’s HIGHLY customizable. There is NO OTHER audio player out there that can be customized as much. The Foobar2000 lets you change everything starting from buttons, layout, background colors, menus to visualization details.

But the best thing about this gem, it needs very little of your system resources when compared to Windows Media Player, iTunes or Winamp.

The Foobar2000 has also plug-ins for iPod support and things like lyrics and album art. There is also a portable version if you prefer to carry it on your thumbdrive.

Download: http://www.foobar2000.org/download

(Platform: Windows only)

15. ImgBurn (CD / DVD Image Burner)

There are many reasons we need a simple, fast way to burn disks. ImgBurn is a CD/DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-ray burning application that is fast, lightweight, and completely free.

With ImgBurn you can:

- backup your data or media files to DVD.
- backup your DVD movies to your PC.
- create Audio CDs from any music files such as MP3, WAV.
- create a duplicate copy of any DVD or music CD
- create video discs (DVD / HD DVD / Blu-ray) playable in your DVD player

ImgBurn supports a variety of image formats and almost all types of discs, so you don’t need to look any further for your disc burning needs. There is also a portable version that you can carry with you on your USB drive. For additional details see the MakeUseOf ImgBurn review here.

(Platform: Windows / Linux)

Download: http://www.imgburn.com/index.php?act=download

So there you go, the top 15 that you should have on your system and use on a frequent basis. Since everyone is different with different needs, you will probably disagree with us on some of these choices. If so, head on down to the comments section below and let us know which apps you would put in their place and why.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This solved my big problem

கிரி said...

Wow...
Anonymous ji.... I am happy for that!
me...helping in someone's life...what a rare occurrence

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