Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Five top freeware applications

Before spending your hard earned cash on software, it is always worth looking to see what is available for free. In this article I will look at five free applications that I use myself.

First up, and probably most importantly, we have a virus checker. AVG anti-virus free edition has all the features I want from anti-virus software. It loads quickly, doesn't take up much system resource, updates itself regularly, and only bothers me when it finds a problem.

After viruses, spyware is the next major problem that arises from using the Internet. I use Spyware Terminator, which has many of the same virtues as AVG anti-virus, in that it is not constantly bothering me with messages. In my opinion, such software should sit quietly in the background doing its job.

Quick tip: when you run a scan on your PC looking for spyware the software 'looks' at each file, which means that the virus checker also checks that file. So by running a spyware scan you also effectively run a virus scan.

Do you use Windows Media Player to watch video files? Do some videos not load into it? Does it complain about needing something called a 'codec'? You can do worse than try the VideoLAN VLC media player. VLC supports most common media types, both audio and video, and is available in versions for Linux and Macs too.

The last two freeware applications have been featured in previous articles here. TreeSize is a program that provides a graphical representation of how much hard-drive space each folder is using; very useful for working out where all your hard-drive space has gone. The other is Startup Control Panel, which provides a means to manage which programs run automatically when Windows starts.