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Free Stuff

Here’s a list of the best Free Stuff you can get for your desktop or laptop computer.

Most of the Free software below is geared to less technical computer owners as opposed to computer geeks.

 

 Malwarebytes (Anti-Malware)

I currently rate Malwarebytes as the Best Free Software available.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is the best program around for removing spyware and pop-ups that may be inundating your computer. It doesn’t use up any memory on your machine unless you are actively using it to remove problems. Even if your computer is well-protected, running Malwarebytes periodically (for example, weekly or monthly) will give you peace of mind.  Malwarebytes should be used in addition to any anti-virus software you are using.  If you are already infected with malware, Malwarebytes can find it and remove it.  It is best to install and learn to use Malwarebytes before you have a problem. Many malware programs prevent you from installing anti-malware products once the malware has already infected your computer. Malwarebytes has another solution for you called Chameleon which will bypass malware that prevents the user from installing anti-malware software.

To get your copy go to:

http://www.malwarebytes.org/

 

 Evernote (Online Organizer)

Evernote is an organizer that helps you remember anything. You can type in notes directly or capture notes and grab screens or photos from web sites.  Evernote can help you organize your entire life and quickly find anything within your Evernote files.  Let’s say you have a customer named Alice Smith who enters your business. Alice is looking for a specific type of kitchen table that she wants to purchase for her house.  You can place this information on a piece of paper that you will inevitably lose. Or you can use Evernote to help you organize this specific task.  Make a note called Alice Smith. Under this note, you can add Alice’s contact information and more information related to her needs. Later, when you are home and have more time, you can go back to this note and surf catalogs or the Internet for photos and prices of tables that may satisfy Alice’s needs. You can add photos, Internet links, and an infinite amount of quick notes related to your project. When Alice enters your store next week, you can access the project (or Alice’s Note Area), and you have all the information at your fingertips including links and photos.  Evernote can take care and organize all of your notes. You can add documents, photos, and other information to your notes. You can format your notes in a manner that you can eventually cut and paste into another document. You can import and export all sorts of files.  Now here is what makes Evernote so great.  All of your notes are stored in the Cloud. You can access your notes at home, at your office, at a hotel, or anywhere else with access to a computer. All you need is your user name and password.  You don’t need Internet Access to use Evernote. You can optionally add a small program to your computer. This program let’s you use Evernote without any access to the Internet. Once you have Internet access, Evernote will automatically synchronize your computer with the files that Evernote stores in the Cloud.  All of your computers are always synchronized. If you add some notes at your business, those notes are synchronized with your Evernote account in the Cloud. When you turn on your computer at home, those notes automatically get synchronized with the information in the Cloud. In other words, no matter where you are, you can use Evernote and your files are automatically transferred to your work computer, home computer, laptop, or any other computer.  It gets better. Do you use an iPad? Any other tablet device? A Blackberry? Other types of cell phones?  Evernote works with and sync’s with almost any type of device (computer, laptop, iPad, phones, tablets).  I haven’t even begun to tell you about all of Evernote’s features. You need to try it.  Evernote won’t cost you a penny for storing up to 60 MB’s of information in the Cloud. The premium version will cost you $45 per year and will give you a full GB of information transfers per month plus some additional features. I’m happy with my no cost version and don’t believe I’ll ever have to update to the premium version. However, I’d gladly pay $45 per year for what I am getting at no cost (but don’t tell the Evernote people).  Evernote has become my favorite free program. It is great for every retailer, anyone who works, anyone who doesn’t work, and can really help students to organize their tasks and studying.

Read more and download Evernote at:

Evernote
http://download.cnet.com/Evernote/3001-2381_4-10425994.html?hasJs=n&hlndr=1&dlm=0

Here’s a little advice to new Evernote users. It does an awful lot of things. Start by using it for notes. The more you use it, the more you will find it to be indispensable. Lots of online help is available to learn all of its features. Take your time digesting all of the features. Just start by taking and organizing some notes.

 

TeamViewer (Remote Computer Access)

Access your business computer from home or access your home computer from work. Access anyone’s computer from anywhere. Use your desktop, laptop, Android, iPad or other mobile device to access any computer anywhere in the world. Help a friend with technical support. Transfer files.  Previously, LOGMEIN was the remote computing software of choice. LOGMEIN is no longer free. TeamViewer is an even better free alternative.

What is remote computing? Remote computing let’s you access any computer in the world from another computer.  Once connected, it is just like sitting in front of the computer you are accessing.  Use it to access your work computer from home.  Use it to access your home computer from work.  Use it to access your home or work computer from your laptop in the Hilton in Hawaii.  Use it to log into your friend’s computer and help him figure out some technical support issues.  Installation is a cinch. Both computers do need to verify codes to make sure that access rights to the other computer are legitimate. Once disconnected, you can delete these access rights. TeamViewer works with desktops, iPads, Androids, laptops and almost anything else.  TeamViewer gets exceptional reviews from CNET, PCWorld.com, and PCMag.com.  The TeamViewer website is full of helpful instructions and tips.  To read more about TeamViewer and get a free copy of TeamViewer, go to:

http://www.teamviewer.com

To read the PCMag.com review go to:

TeamViewer (PCMag.com review)

To read the PCWorld.com review go to:

TeamViewer (PCWorld.com review)

To read the CNET review go to:

TeamViewer (CNET.com Review)

(Note…the free version is for personal use. Please read the fine print and decide if you are following the terms of the agreement that allow you to use TeamViewer for free.)

 

 SyncToy 2.1 (File Synchronization Software)

 

SyncToy is a file synchronization program developed by Microsoft that backs up your files from your computer to another computer, flash drive, external hard drive, or external network storage devices.  In plain English, SyncToy let’s you easily make sure that you have all of your important files copied to some other computer or device at the touch of a button (or during times that you schedule).  SyncToy does not use any resources on your computer when you are not using it.  You can use SyncToy to back up selected files on your computer when you click on the SyncToy icon.  Or use Windows’ built-in scheduling software to automatically backup your files at a scheduled daily, weekly, or other periodically scheduled time.  SyncToy is very fast. It only backs up your selected files that have changed since your last synchronization.  Use SyncToy to back up your photos, documents, music, and any other irreplaceable data that you have on your computer.  Using and installing SyncToy is not so difficult. Most computer owners should be able to set up a simple synchronization. Less experienced users will need some help in setting up scheduled synchronization.  Once SyncToy is set up, using it is either automatic or as simple as clicking on the SyncToy icon.

Learn more and download your copy on Microsoft’s website at:

SyncToy (Microsoft)

Novice computer users may find SyncToy somewhat difficult to use. You can find further help instructions by searching Google for SyncToy Instructions. Better yet, you can have a “computer person” set up SyncToy for you so all you need to do is press a desktop button icon Sync your important files.  Another alternative is to get Free FileSync. Novices will find easier to use. However, a novice may still want a “computer person” to help set it up for the first time.

Get a copy of Free FileSync at:

FreeFilesync Software

Read the reviews on CNET at:

FreeFileSync Software Review (CNET)

 

Avast! (Antivirus/Antispyware Software)

I have a new favorite FREE Antivirus/Antispyware program.  The most popular FREE Antivirus program is Avast! Free version. I have found it to work much more efficiently and is unobtrusive. It doesn’t ask you lots of questions.  For those of you who don’t want to pay, I highly recommend Avast or AVG Free.  Better yet, I use and recommend AVG Cloud Care  on all of my computers. You can find it at The Computer Man on sale for prices as low as $39.95 per year per year.  One warning. If you are using AVG or Avast! within your business, you are supposed to pay for it.  Why should you purchase AVG Cloud Care $39.95 or other competitive products instead of using the F*R*E*E stuff? In general, the pay stuff works better. In the past, I used to say that the FREE alternatives were about 75% as good as paid versions. I now believe that these alternatives are probably 90% as good as the pay stuff.  If you are using Windows 7, your odds of getting any malware is less than the odds of getting malware on previous versions of Windows.

Here’s my final advice. I always recommend  AVG Cloud Care or Bitware Corporate Version (for Large Enterprise Businesses). None of my computers nor any of the businesses that I consult with have been subjected to Malware since installing any of the latest versions.

(Warning…Many computer users use more than one program for Anti-Virus. This is not good! It will slow down your computer. Should you decide to upgrade your Anti-Virus software, make sure that you uninstall any previous Anti-Virus solutions that may be running on your computer.)

You can download and learn more about Avast at:

Avast! Free Antivirus Software

Avast has received exceptional reviews from CNET and pcMagazine. You can read what others have to say about Avast at:

Avast! Five Star Rating (CNET)

 

Microsoft Security Essentials (Antivirus/Antispyware Software)  

Two of the best free antivirus/antispyware sofware programs are free to home users, but not free for business users. I am well aware that many business owners have installed AVG and Avast! on their computers without paying the required license fee. Read the small print in your license agreement. It is not f*r*e*e for business users.  If you don’t want to pay for security software, and you wish to comply with the small print in the license agreement that you click on, Microsoft Security Essentials may be a good choice. If you don’t want to spend a penny and you own a business, Microsoft Security Essentials is a good alternative choice to Avast! and AVG, but perhaps not quite as safe as the alternatives. If you need a guess, I would say it is 75% as good as the competition.

You can get a copy of Microsoft Security Essentials on the Microsoft site at:

Microsoft Security Essentials 

Read what pcMagazine had to say about Microsoft Security Essentials at:

Microsoft Security Essentials Review (pcMagazine)

 

SyncToy 2.1 (File Synchronization Software)

SyncToy 2.1 is a FREE backup program from Microsoft. It is outstanding. SyncToy can back up your data every time you run the program. Or using the Scheduler that comes with your computer, you can have SyncToy automatically back up your files at scheduled periods of time (for example, 3 AM every morning). Unfortunately, although SyncToy is F*R*E*E and pretty easy to use, you may need a more experienced computer user to set it up for you. SyncToy can backup or synchronize all of your important music, spreadsheets, photos, business and other data with an external USB hard drive, flash drive, or other computers on your network.   More information and the FREE software is available on Microsoft’s website at:

SyncToy (Microsoft Backup Software) 

CCleaner (Registry Cleaner/File Remover)

CCleaner is one great FREE utility for cleaning up your registry and removing unnecessary files from your hard-drive. It’s safe to use and has outstanding reviews by the computer experts as well as users. CCleaner is a nonintrusive program. You run it and exit the program. It doesn’t run in the background and slow down your computer. It can clean out and compact your registry. It deletes unnecessary files on your computer. It cleans out your recycle bin and removes unwanted cookies. It deletes files that Uninstall does not remove. It can clean out and scrub your computer of file remnants that although deleted, still remain on your computer until they are overwritten. Like Malwarebytes, I run CCleaner monthly.   You can download CCleaner and read more about it at CNET (a very legit company owned by CBS which offers free downloads and computer news):

CCleaner (Registry and File Cleaner)

 

Last Pass (Password Manager)

LastPass is a great program and it won’t cost you a penny. LastPass stores all of your passwords on your local computer and in the Cloud (on external server computers owned by LastPass that you can access from any Internet connection).  I know your first question. Is it safe to store your passwords in the Cloud? It’s probably as safe as keeping your money in the bank, having money invested in your company pension fund, or investing in stocks and bonds using companies such as Charles Schwab (for example).  It’s possible that your local government will go bankrupt (even Providence Rhode Island may go bankrupt). It’s possible that someone will hack into your Charles Schwab account (or other type of bank or investment account) and steal all your money. It’s possible that someone will bankrupt your company pension fund. It’s possible that someone may take all the money stored under your pillow.  So, the answer is, LastPass is probably as safe as crossing the street. If you check out their website, the management team looks real honest. In my opinion, LastPass is as safe as anything else you may do on the Internet.  Here’s how LastPass works. You pick ONE single MASTER PASSWORD to access your account. This will log you into your LastPass account which will give you access to all your Internet passwords. It can also save you time by automatically filling in shopping and other sites requiring you to insert your name, address, and other information.  Let’s say that you subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, for example. Just click on the appropriate link and LastPass will bring you directly to your desired site and automatically log you in. Similarly, you can automatically log into your banking sites and any other sites requiring a user name and/or password.  The only thing you need to remember is your MASTER PASSWORD.  Using LastPass, you can access your passwords from any computer anywhere. The premium version ($1 per month) let’s you access your passwords on most mobile devices (iPads, Androids, and smart phones).  LastPass has a secure note feature which I find to be very valuable. I keep my credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and other personal information in this area. I also keep other important information like the type of battery used in my garage door opener and my cat’s maiden name. Why? Lots of times when calling certain companies you are asked for certain information that you may not necessarily remember or forgothow to spell. What is the name of your first girl friend? By keeping all this information in the secure note area of LastPass, you will never forget the information that you need to remember and it will always be with you.  LastPass received top ratings by CNET and pcMagazine. Like EverNote, it’s a program that everyone should be using and it’s FREE.  According to pcMagazine, LastPass is “One of the few pieces of perfect software tested by PCMag- we gave it a rating of five (out of five).”

To read the CNET review (also five out of five) go to:

LastPass CNET Review

To get a copy of LastPass, read about all its features, see screen shots and tutorials go to:

LastPass Web Site

 

Google Chrome  (Browser Alternative)

Google Chrome may be the best browser. About 54% of computer owners use Internet Explorer (which comes preinstalled on all Windows computers) to browse the internet. 7% of computer owners use Safari. 22% are using Firefox. 13% of users are now using Google’s Chrome Browser.   The expert reviews currently pick Chrome as the fastest and best browser available. You can download and install Chrome on your computer and give it a try. It is basically a non-intrusive program. You can run it and close it and it does not take up any memory on your computer. You may want to read the installation instructions carefully. Do not download any additional programs with Chrome or make it your default browser unless you choose to do so.   Download Chrome on the Google site at:

Google Chrome

 

Macrium Reflect (Image Software)

Macrium Reflect will make a disk image of your hard drive on an external USB, network, or other hard drive.   What happens when your computer stops working? You lose everything. That’s why you should be backing up your computer on at least a daily basis.   Your most important information is your photos, documents, spreadsheets, music and other data that can never be replaced. This is what you should be backing up on a daily basis. If you don’t back up, you can never recover this data.   In addition, you should be doing a monthly (or at least quarterly) image of your hard drive. Should your computer hard drive fail, you can restore this image to a new hard drive (or restore your image to a new or alternate computer).   Your image will contain your Windows files and all of your software programs. The image will also contain your out of date data files, but this doesn’t matter so much since you’ve been backing up your data on a daily basis.   I really like using Acronis True Image software. It sells for $49.95. Macrium Reflect is a FREE alternative.   Here’s how it works. You make a monthly image onto an external USB Hard Drive. You also make a bootable CD. Should your computer fail, you use the bootable CD to access the external USB Hard Drive and access and restore the image of your original hard drive.   Get Macrium Reflect for FREE at:

Macrium Reflect (Image Software)    Read the PC World Review of Macrium Reflect at:

PC World Review (Macrium Reflect) 

 

DD Poker (Play Poker Like A Pro)

DD Poker is an outstanding FREE poker game. It used to sell for $49.95 and is still available at that price in many stores. It’s a really nice poker game and tutorial. It’s great for learning to play Texas Hold’em. It used to be sold by a major poker pro and sold through all the major computer stores and electronic outlets. The author has updated the software and offers it for free. This is not shareware type software. It is an excellent professional package.

If you have any interest in Poker (especially Texas Hold’em) or wish to pass the game on to your customers or friends, go to:

DD Poker

SlimCleaner (PC Tune-Up)

SlimCleaner is a FREE PC tune-up utility that can optimize your computer performance. It is  comparable to similar utilities that can be purchased for $29 and up.   SlimCleaner is highly rated by PC Magazine and received their prestigious Editors’ Choice award along with a rating of 4.5 out of 5. It has also received a 4 out of 5 rating from 280+ users who have downloaded the product from CNET’s Download.com.   SlimCleaner does all of the following:   It analyzes and removes unneeded files on your computer.   It optimizes the startup of your computer and reduces your boot time.   It uninstalls programs and remnants from your computer that may have been missed by other uninstaller programs.   It shreds files on your computer that you may not want. When you delete a file from Windows, the remnants of that file remain on your computer. A shredder writes over that file so that no one can ever see any of the original remnants of your deleted file.   It cleans up virus and malware programs that may have been added to the startup operations of your computer.   SlimCleaner is 100% portable. You can copy it and run it from a USB Flash Drive.   To get SlimCleaner for FREE go to:   SlimCleaner Website   To read the PC Magazine Review of SlimCleaner go to:   PC Magazine Review of SlimCleaner   To see CNET reviews and download SlimCleaner go to CNET at:   CNET Review

 

Jing (Screen Capture Softwar)

Jing is a screen capturing software program that takes a picture or makes a video of what you see on your monitor.  You can use it to capture items on your computer screen and combine them into a single file that you can share instantly on the web, email, IM, Twitter or a blog.  You can add sound and text to your screen captures and videos.  You can use Jing to make a video to highlight the items you may sell within your retail store or restaurant. You can make a video to help a friend learn to use iTunes or other programs that you may have on your computer. Teachers can make videos of learning concepts and share them with students online or via email.  Getting a computer error? Use Jing to capture the error appearing on your screen and forward it to your favorite computer guru.  Jing is FREE and made by TechSmith. TechSmith is the same company that owns Camtasia ($299) and Snagit ($49.95). I guess you can call Jing a FREE (including online storage) and junior version of these products. For those of you who want a screen capture tool (also called a snipping tool), you already have one that comes with Windows. Look under Programs, Accessories, Snipping Tool. Jing is a more advanced version of the FREE Snipping Tool that comes with Windows.  Jing gets a 5 Star Rating from both CNET and Softpedia. I should warn you that Jing may not be for novice computer users. It’s an excellent program, but you will have a learning curve that you may need to overcome.

See more about Jing and download a FREE copy at:

Jing Website (Techsmith)

To read the Jing review on CNET go to:

Jing Review on CNET

To read another Jing review on Softpedia go to:

Jing Review in Softpedia

Mailinator (Temporary Email Address)

Mailinator.com FREE 24 Hour Email Address let’s you use a FREE untraceable email address instantly. Here’s how it works. Let’s say you go to a website that requires your email address. You don’t want to give away your primary email address. With Mailinator, you can instantly make up a new email address that you can use or anyone else can access for 24 hours. Thus, the website that you visited will have a valid email address that you or anyone else can access for that period of time.

You can access and obtain your FREE 24 hour email address at:

Mailinator.com (Free 24 Hour Mail Service)