March 30, 2012

Best of the Best : Freeware 2.0

So, since I got lazy, I decided to resurrect [blank]'s old post, updating it with new info.


I thought that I should dedicate a mega-category (with sub categories) to FREEWARE!!! If you don't know, freeware is software that is released to the public for free. Free demos don't count.


Antivirus

avast!



If you have me as a friend on Facebook, you may already know which antivirus software I love. If you aren't, the best free antivirus is avast!. I loved this software since it was released but I had a slight issue with the non-user friendly interface. The keyword in the previous sentence is "HAD". Now avast! 6.0 is released with the new very user friendly interface, I can't say I love any program as much as I like avast!. This program with one click protects your computer as good or better that Symantec Antivirus, without the lag that comes along with that.

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Microsoft Security Essentials


I have recently downloaded this program on my computer and it is actually not a bad freeware program. There's one catch though. You have to have a Genuine copy of Windows XP, Vista, or 7. It will check to genuineness (yes that's a word) of your version of windows when you try to install it. I would suggest that you download BOTH avast! and Microsoft Security Essentials because its never a bad thing to double up on antivirus.However, you may experience some problems with using two, so follow this at your own discretion.  Some people have problems with having multiple antivirus programs but I have never encountered this issue with these two programs but I had problems before I uninstalled Symantec.

Internet Browser

Google Chrome

Google Chrome is the best browser, just in front of Mozilla Firefox. Theses are both great browsers but Firefox has a older, IE-esque look but, Chrome (as in the name) is new, modern, sleek, and still has that new browser smell!(joking). It's not all about the looks though! In Google Chrome, you have highly sophisticated security, similar or better that Safari. It will block and warn you when you attempt to enter a potentially hazardous website but if you trust it, Chrome will still allow you to go in. Also, if you have multiple computers, you can sync all your settings and bookmarks to your Google account and sync to all your computer (Even your cookies and login data!! and its encrypted). With the Google Web Store, you can find some really great extensions and apps. Some of [blank]'s personal favorites are Canvas Rider, Angry Birds, and Gestures for Chrome.

VoIP


Skype



VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. These are services that let you use your computer like a phone. The best is the very popular Skype. You can call anyone else on Skype for FREE anywhere in the world. Skype is also now available in some cell phones, Smartphones, and the iPod Touch. This can't replace your phone but can definitely save you money. Contrary to the note at the beginning of this article, buying Skype credit to call phones is not a bad idea. For example, if you have a plan on Skype (FYI they aren't very expensive) and a iPod Touch, you can use it like a phone. There is also video calling on Skype and it can be one way to.

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Google Hangouts


However, this is not known as "freeware", as it exists on Google Plus (+), Google's social networking site, which will be featured later in another article (Stay tuned!). This allows you to speak with 9 other people at once, using video conferencing if desired. It also includes multiple other features compared to Skype. You can "screen-share", which is showing the contents of your screen to others, perhaps to give them information, or just for them to help you with a pesky computer problem. Otherwise, if you decide to use "Hangouts with Extras", you can share files, such as Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, etc. This feature proves extremely useful when working on group projects. With Hangouts, you can also talk to people that are not on their computer by calling their phone and Google is providing free calls to all North American phone numbers until the end of 2012 (the have extended it for the past two years so I anticipate that it will continue to 2013 and so on).

PC Accelerator

There are many programs that claim to speed up your PC but the most effective and easy-to-use one is CCleaner. This program will clean recycled files, browser cookies, system files, memory dump, and many other things to speed up your PC. It also features a Registry cleaner which will find errors in your registry and fix them. It also backs up your registry before making any changes. Other tools that is included with CCleaner is a program uninstaller, drive wiper (can also wipe free space), system restore point deleter, and a startup  manager. This comprehensive set of tools makes it even better than Advanced SystemCare (Ranked the best the last time around).

Defragmenter

My first choice here would be Smart Defrag 2, by IObit! Smart Defrag 2 features an AMAZING user interface, which is modern and clean featuring a real-time monitor of how the defraging is progressing. The program will also maintain your computer by itself, with the help of the "Auto Defrag" function. Also, it can defrag system files (Such as the paging file) during startup, every couple of days or boots, depending on your choice. It also features 2 optimization modes, designed to put frequently used files in the best place (So that your hard drive can find it faster).


Design


Well I think that many of you have heard of Adobe Photoshop and it's truly the best but it costs over a thousand dollars to get CS5.5. The GNU counterpart is GIMP 2.6. It's not as great or easy to use as Photoshop but GIMP is the best free design software you'll get out there. It does not have the best GUI but it isn't bad. After about an hour of using it, you can use all the basic features really easily. You can also watch How-To videos on the internet to learn the more advanced features. GIMP also features a plethora of file extensions that you can save as ranging from .psd to GIMP's proprietary file extension, .xcf

Deon Hua is the Editor-in-Chief at [blank]’s Universe. He is also a technology enthusiast with his expertise in computers and Pro Audio and Lighting. You'll probably catch Deon writing a movie review when he has time.