Best Free Programs For Your PC

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Whether you just purchased a new computer and are working with a blank slate, or trying to start over by reinstalling your operating system on your old reliable, Nerds on Call is here to share some of our favorite free programs that you may have missed out on before. Many PC users stick with default programs that are boring and frankly do not function as well as some other free alternatives.

If you are using Internet Explorer to browse the web, you should try out Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. The Nerd’s browser of choice is Chrome due the sandboxing function, which quarantines each website you open so that it can not interfere with your PC or other pages or programs you have running. This means you are less likely to get malware from websites that are infected. Both of these free programs are worth a try, and you can decide which is a better option for you based on what is more comfortable and intuitive to you. Once you have chosen a favorite browsed, be sure do get the same free programs on your mobile device so that your bookmarks and passwords will be available for syncing onto your device.

If you are worried about vulnerabilities to malware, one of the best free programs to download is MalwarebytesFree which is great at identifying and eradicating new malware programs. One of the best things about this software is that it specializes in “zero day” threats, so you want to make sure you get it installed if your PC starts acting weird and you suspect an infection. Be sure to choose the “Malwarebytes Anti-Malware,” not just a trial of the premium version which will end up harassing you to pay after two weeks of use. If you feel more comfortable upgrading, you get real time protection rather than having to manually begin scans on your own.

malwarebytes

The next program is one that you will hope you never have to use, but will be ecstatic to have it when you need it. Recuva is a free program for your PC that can turn back time and help you recover a program or file deleted on accident or due to an error. As long as you did not use a “file shredding” tool to delete the files, Recuva can get them back, making it one of the most useful free programs on our list during emergencies.

Keeping programs up to date can be a real pain, especially if those annoying popups keep interrupting your PC use. A free program called Secunia runs in the background after being downloaded and setup, and automatically keeps your software up to date. You can choose if you want Secunia to perform the updates, or notify you when they are available so that you can choose which updates get downloaded every time. It is important to keep your systems software up to date to avoid vulnerabilities and get rid of bugs in older versions.

One of the most important aspects of online security is the strength of your passwords. One of the Nerd’s favorite programs is LastPass, a password management system that will help you create strong passwords, and store them in an easy to view sheet. This makes it so you only have to remember one password, and you will have access to all of them.

Cloud storage is useful when you need to access your files from remote locations on unfamiliar computers. Microsoft’s OneDrive is one of the best free programs for cloud storage because the offer 15GB of storage for free! Windows users more than likely already have OneDrive pre-installed on their computers, all you have to do is set it up and use it! If you go over the 15GB limit, there is a small monthly fee for their cloud services.

OneDrive

Free programs are awesome, but installing them can be a bit of a drag, clicking through bunches of unwanted options or additional downloads because the default settings will give you way more than you ask for. A program called Ninite lets you choose among dozens of free programs and creates a custom executable for you to run. When you run it, the free programs that you want are installed, and the bundled programs you want to avoid are automatically declined.

Streaming music onto your mobile devices is now easier than ever before. With so many options when it comes to radio streaming that leaves listeners with little choice of what they hear, Spotify stands out by offering custom playlists that can be compiled from their huge library of songs. Spotify is at the top of free programs for music streaming due to the availability of entire albums. The free version includes short ads, while the version you pay for is has no interruptions.

No matter what yo use your PC for, there are most likely free programs that you could be taking advantage of in order to improve your user experience and the performance of your PC. Nerds on Call can always recommend software updates or upgrades, and diagnose any PC issue you may have. Call or click to chat with a Nerd now about your PC and how to get it running better!

About The Author: Andrea Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer repair company that specializes in on-site and online service for homes and businesses. Andrea is the writer of a weekly column, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight. She prepares TV segments for and appears regularly on CBS, CW and FOX on shows such as Good Day Sacramento, More Good Day Portland, and CBS 13 News, offering viewers technology and lifestyle tips. See Andrea in action at callnerds.com/andrea/.

Video Transcript

Walt: Whether you have a blank slate of new PC or you’re thinking about starting fresh with your old reliable, now’s the best time to check out some free software that you may have missed. Our resident nerd, is that okay? I mean that’s what it says. Why would you say you’re a nerd?

Ryan: Yeah! Well, I wear glasses normally, but I’m wearing contacts.

Walt: For TV?

Ryan: Yeah. And the thing about nerds, the reason why we’re cool now is because we can be overly enthusiastic about things we love. We don’t have to play it cool.

Walt: All right, so you’re not just a nerd, you’re a Nerd On Call. The best kind of nerd would be one that is on call. Okay, Ryan Eldridge. Your browser, everybody goes to Internet Explorer to find Google. You’re saying try something else.

Ryan: Yeah, Internet Explorer and the new Microsoft Edge, they’re actually kind of terrible.

Walt: Really?

Ryan: We all use them because they’re pre-installed on our PC, but don’t use them. They get infected really easily. They’re poorly coded. Microsoft just hasn’t gotten it right with these two products. So use Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. My favorite is Google Chrome. It has a really cool feature. We all use tabs now, and what it does is it makes each tab its own browser. What’s called sandboxing so if you get an infection on that browser, or there’s a crash because of poor code, it won’t close the whole browser, it’ll just close that tab. So it’ll quarantine infected websites and things like that, so it’s just a lot easier to use. And you can also install it across your mobile devices to share bookmarks and also password management, so it makes it a lot easier.

Walt: So we all want to be protected from viruses. What do we do about malware?

Ryan: Yeah, so we’re used to getting Norton or McAfee, or something like that. But now malware is all over the place. It’s not just viruses anymore. It’s stuff that you get infected on your browser and stuff. So Malwarebytes Free, you can go to Malwarebytes.org and get it. This is a great program that just gets all kinds of the bad guys. It specializes in what’s called zero-day threats. These are threats that the big security firms don’t even know about yet, and they haven’t patched it in their software. And so they’re really great at it. When you go to their website, don’t download their free trial version. Otherwise, in 14 days, it’ll start asking you to pay for it. They actually have a free version you can get that’ll run forever. The only difference between the premium and the free version is the premium one will run automatically. The other one you have to run manually. And if you really like it, I would suggest you pay for it. It’s staple in our house. We love it.

Walt: So let’s say I’m working on a document or Amy is sitting on a computer at home, and we’re both typing letters and suing the place where we work, and we accidentally delete. How can we save that document?

Ryan: Well, Recuva is a program. It’s kind of like insurance. It’s something you want only when you absolutely have to have it. If you worked on that huge document suing your place of employment, you’re going to need to get that back. So Recuva you can get that. You can get that at Piriform.com/recuva. This is an incredible program. It will just clean – get all of the stuff you deleted by accident. Unless you use some sort of shredder program that absolutely destroys it. But it can also help you get programs back. Sometimes you’re going through, and you’re cleaning stuff out and then you go, “Oh shoot! I wanted that Family Tree Maker, and I accidentally deleted it.” So it’ll get that back.

Walt: Right, so besides calling you, what about a software inspector?

Ryan: Well, this one’s cool. This is called Secuna Personal Software Inspector. And what this is is it goes through your entire computer and looks for any program that needs an update and gets regularly updated and updates it for you. The thing about hackers and virus writers is they don’t just exploit the operating system anymore. They might infect Microsoft Word. They might infect some other program you’ve got on your machine. And this will go through and clean all that up and make sure it’s all up to date. And if it can’t be updated, it’ll tell you and then you can go and update it manually.

Walt: Do you have an app of the week?

Ryan: Yeah we do. So the app of the week is called Adobe’s Photoshop Express. You can put this on your phone.

Walt: Free?

Ryan: Yeah, it’s free. You can crop photos. You can remove red eye. You can change the color, make it black and white, brighten up a photo. It’s just amazing. And the best part is you can use it on your phone. On Microsoft devices, iOS devices, as well as Android, so there’s no reason you need to post a bad photo anymore.

Walt: No more.

Ryan: No more.

Walt: Okay. Ryan, thank you so much. Nerd On Call, the best kind of Nerd is that. All right, Amy…