Win PC Essentials
Running your computer with the Windows operating system, and connected to the Internet? If so, you will find the following products necessary to the safe operation of your machine.
ZDNet's list of Ten free security tools you can and should be using to help protect, disinfect and manage your Windows computer: http://content.zdnet.com/2346-12691_22-95490-1.html
1. Virus protection. If you cannot afford a commercial program, try AVG: http://free.grisoft.com/freeweb.php/doc/2/. Occasionally stop by Pandasoft, and run their free scanner, also: http://www.pandasoftware.com/activescan/. This is a great backup between updates of your main virus software. If you have a suspect file or two, try Kaspersky Lab: http://www.kaspersky.com/scanforvirus. Another free antivirus program is Avast Home Edition: http://www.avast.com/eng/avast_4_home.html.
I've just become aware of two more choices, the AOL-branded Kaspersky Active Virus Shield: http://www.activevirusshield.com/antivirus/freeav/index.adp and Avira AntiVir: http://www.free-av.com/. Anti-Vir is very highly rated. All free!
2. Firewall. If you have no firewall hardware, use software: http://www.zonelabs.com/store/content/company/products/znalm/freeDownload.jsp,
3. Popup blocker. Makes web browsing safer, and easier. Google makes an effective one, built into their Toolbar: http://toolbar.google.com/
4. Spyware tools. I've found that one is not enough. Run both Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy: http://www.lavasoftusa.com/support/download/ and http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html. They will catch different junk. A good new one is BHODemon: http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file_download.asp?fid=23611&fileidx=1
5. Download and install a safe web-browser! Try Firefox: http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox or Opera: http://www.opera.com. Both Opera and Mozilla offer an integrated safe email program, which is also important. Other secure email programs are Eudora: http://www.eudora.com, Thunderbird: http://www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird and Pegasus: http://www.pmail.com/.
If every Windows computer connected to the Internet was regularly using (and keeping updated) these programs, the virus/worm/spam load would be reduced to nothing. Imagine how pleasant THAT would be! For more in-depth information, see Computer Internet Security Class: http://members2.1stnetusa.com/~a/comintsec.
In trouble, and need a boot disk? FreePCTech has all the MS operating systems: http://freepctech.com/pc/002/files010.shtml
Enough about safety. If you want to USE your computer, here are some great FREE programs:
1. Genealogy - Legacy: http://www.legacyfamilytree.com/, Ancestry Family Tree: http://www.ancestry.com/ Embla Family Treasures: http://www.embla.us and of course the venerable PAF (Personal Ancestral File): http://www.familysearch.org
Genealogical Research Note-Keeping - Bygones: http://www.bygonessoftware.com/
General note-taking, to-do lists and so forth -EverNote: http://www.evernote.com/en/
2. Office - OpenOffice.org, hands down!: http://www.OpenOffice.org. Tutorials for OpenOffice: http://www.tutorialsforopenoffice.org
NEW! If you don't want to download a large office/word-processing program to your computer, want to easily collaborate on documents online, or simply want access to your documents wherever you have internet access, there is now a new class of services available, online and free. Best known is Writely.com, which is the only one I have used. It even allows you to publish directly to your blog, if you like. http://www.writely.com/. Note: Writely has been bought by Google, and Writely and Google Docs are now the same thing. Also recommended are http://ajaxWrite.com/ (Firefox only), http://www.zohowriter.com/ and http://www.thinkfree.com/. A nice discussion and comparison of online word processors: http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=06/08/28/1619220. Have fun!
3. Graphics and Graphics Editing - Picasa: http://www.picasa.com/
IrfanView is also popular: http://www.irfanview.com/. The Gimp: http://www.gimp.org/~tml/gimp/win32 cross-platform. The GIMP for Windows: http://gimp-win.sf.net. New free Windows-only program Photoplus 6: http://freeserifsoftware.com. Also new and free is VSO Image Resizer, which will also do batch resizing, among other cool stuff: http://www.vso-software.fr/products/image_resizer/
4. Web Authoring - New! NVU: http://www.nvu.com/ (Win, Mac, Linux)
5. Have a website? You will need to up and download files. DataFreeway will FTP, SecureFTP, and SSH in an intuitive interface: http://www.enginsite.com/download/DataFreeway.exe
And new -- check out WinSCP, Free SFTP, FTP and SCP client for Windows: http://winscp.net/eng/index.php
6. RSS Newsreaders - I use Bloglines online, but if you prefer to download a free program, there is SharpReader for Windows: http://www.sharpreader.com. More about RSS and readers: http://www.lights.com/weblogs/rss.html
7. Backup and Storage: Karen's Replicator: http://www.karenware.com, Yahoo Briefcase: http://briefcase.yahoo.com/ - 30 MB. Online File Storage: http://www.listible.com/list/online-file-storage
8. To Do lists: What To Do
9. File sharing (P2P), chatting/IM, voice over IP, even video-conferencing: Qnext at http://www.qnext.com
10. Desktop Search: Even better than Google Desktop, is X1: http://www.x1.com/
New! Many good free programs for the Windows OS are available from OpenDisc: http://theopendisc.com/ and http://www.gnu.org/software/for-windows.html.
PCMag reviews 26 freeware packages, some of which are listed above: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,1864515,00.asp
If your computer is hopelessly compromised by viruses, worms or spyware, it can be recovered with a Knoppix (Linux) disk: http://www.shockfamily.net/cedric/knoppix/
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle