As promised, here are 10 really useful free applications that you might want to consider adding to your computer.
- Web browsers: Chrome and Firefox are alternatives to Internet Explorer - we have all 3 on our computers as some sites work better in certain browsers. In our opinion Chrome is superior. It's fast and synchronises your bookmarks across several computers.
- Messaging: Skype. Now includes Windows Live Messenger (or MSN Messenger as it used to be called). You can use it to chat via instant messages, or make voice or video calls to other Skype users - all for free.
- Media: VLC. Not the prettiest media player, but supports just about any format you can throw at it, including both music and videos.
- Runtimes: Flash. Usually, you'll need to install Flash to make some websites work properly. Certain kids' websites are entirely Flash, while other sites use it to play videos or other interactive elements.
- Runtimes: Java. Like Flash, you'll probably find you need Java installed for some websites to work.
- Imaging: Paint.NET. Windows has always had the basic Paint program, but it's extremely limited. Paint.NET is no Photoshop, but you can spruce up your digital photos, crop them and more with this great free app.
- Documents: OpenOffice. Includes equivalents of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and can open Microsoft Office files, and save in formats that people who have Office can open.
- Documents: CutePDF Writer. Most of us can read PDF files as standard nowadays but some of us need the security in sending documents that cannot be changed. This is good as it doesn't have any watermarks and web popup ads.
- Security: AVG. Your laptop needs protection from malware and, short of paying for a full-blown Internet Security suite, this is one of the best free antivirus programs.
- Compression: 7-Zip. Windows can open Zip files, but 7-Zip can handle many other types of compressed files as well.
Remember, it is your responsibility to read the terms and conditions and watch out for any check boxes that might want to sign you up to other unwanted enquiries or software so don't rush the procedure.
Once you have installed all the software you think you need, create a new recovery of your entire operating system to include all these new applications, otherwise, you will have to do the whole process again if your software crashes and dies or if your hard drive malfunctions.