12 December, 2015
By Joe Callison
I have tried out many free software tools and programs over the years and a few of them have become long time favorites of mine that I consider essential for my computers and I highly recommended them to others. There are probably several other good programs that do the same things and other things that I have not covered. I would be interested in some of your favorites if you want to share them with the community.
AVG free Antivirus www.avg.com
I have used this for at least 15 years. What I have always liked about AVG is that it provides good protection against viruses and even a lot of other malware without slowing my computer down too much, and it has not interfered with any other programs that I use.
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware www.malwarebytes.org
If any malware gets by my free AVG, which it rarely does, then this is the first program I use to scan for and remove it. The free download does not provide continuous protection like the paid version. You have to run a scan, which will update its malware protection database first, and then after the scan you select the items you want it to remove (generally just right-click and choose select all). After restarting the computer to complete the removal, I run a manual scan using AVG and between the two programs all traces of malware are usually gone.
Junkware Removal Tool www.malwarebytes.org/junkwareremovaltool/
Malwarebytes was so impressed with this tool by thisisudax.org that they acquired it in June of this year. I have found it to be the most useful tool to get rid of adware, toolbars and other unwanted add-ons that get embedded in your internet browsers and refuse to let go. It cleans up Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome browsers only.
I have used this free application since the Windows XP days and it is still my favorite for burning CDs and now it also burns DVDs, including Blu-Ray and HD-DVDs. Even though the name has XP in it, the current version is up to date through Windows 10.
VLC Media Player www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html
Since Microsoft no longer bundles their own DVD player with Windows 10 (it is only installed if you upgrade from a previous version of Windows that has the Media Center or Pro Pack), many have turned to VLC Media Player. It has been widely used for years by people with previous versions of Windows that did not have the Media Center or Pro Pack.
Paragon Backup & Recovery 14 Free Edition
This free software does everything you need for backup and recovery and more.
CutePDF Writer www.cutepdf.com
This free PDF writer installs as an additional printer choice and can be used to convert anything that you could send to a printer into a PDF file. In that regard it performs the same function as Microsoft XPS Document Writer but most people do not recognize the XPS file format as readily as the PDF format if you send it to them, and may not even have an XPS viewer in their operating system.
This free system information tool is used by computer techies everywhere. It may be more technical than you care for but if you are curious about what you have “under the hood” then it will give you a lot of information. Your computer guy or gal will use it!
Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays! I hope you enjoy these free goodies as much as I do.