Monday, January 3, 2011

My current list of Favourite 100% Free Essential Software

AVG Antivirus FREE no longer recommended.

I have been recommending AVG Antivirus FREE for many years now. Their latest version however leaves a lot to be desired. First off, they have an alarming warning screen whenever you open the console which to a non-tech person would be very scary. In fact it is simply a notice that apparently you’ll get better protection if you bought the professional version.

This warning screen was present in version 8 but now in version 2011 they have an extra Scan option called "PC Analyzer" that tells you that it will scan for System errors. In my opinion, this type of scan has no place in an Antivirus program. The application nags you until you do a scan. After a while it returns results that would look really scary to all but the most tech savvy. Hundreds of registry and other errors flash up on the screen in red. When you click on the FIX button you are taken to the AVG website where upon you are requested to buy the professional version in order to fix the problems. I consider this type of advertising immoral and unacceptable. This would have been ample reason for me to withdraw my recommendation for this product but it gets worse. Last week a number of Security blogs reported that AVG’s latest updates corrupted Windows on hundreds of thousands of machines all around the world. It’s time to uninstall this app and replace it with something else. But what?

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) Antivirus

I can’t believe how good this free product is. It takes a minute or two to download and another minute to install. Yes, this is Microsoft I’m talking about! The company with the reputation for the most bloated software in the world. Their Antivirus however is lean and mean! I have tested this product against some pretty nasty viruses and evil websites and its managed to stop them all.

The only thing against this product is the fact that it is from Microsoft. Virus and Spyware criminals have tried to specifically target this product just because it is Microsoft. One piece of spyware actually tried to mimic a Microsoft Security Essentials popup Virus warning window. When you click on it, it takes you to a website that downloads a virus to destroy the antivirus and take control of the machine.

Fake popup window

Despite this, I still recommend this product and have replaced AVG with MSE on quite a few machines already.

*** UPDATE ***

Users who I have replaced AVG with MSE on their computers have reported that their computers are running much faster. File copies are now lightning fast and applications like Skype and VoipStunt are running much better with MSE.

CD Burner XP burning software.

There is only one thing wrong with this otherwise excellent product and that is its terrible name! For one thing it doesn’t just burn CDs as its name suggests but DVDs and even Blu-ray as well! The XP tagged on at the end makes it sound dated and would have many worried that it doesn’t work on Vista or Windows 7. I can assure you that I have installed it on Windows 7 64 bit and it works perfectly. This application is simple to use and anyone who has used the very expensive Nero tool would be instantly at home with this product. It is fast, reliable and 100% Freeware.

FileZilla FTP client.

This is a very nice FTP tool with an elegant user interface. You enter the IP address at the top. Below you have two windows. One for your local machine or network path, the other the FTP folder. You can drag and drop or copy and paste items. It gives you detailed information on its progress and is reliable. The only negative thing I would mention is that it insists on checking for updates every time you run the tool (and then automatically downloading it) and usually finds an update nearly every time as this product is frequently updated. For some, this would seem like a good thing as you know that the product is alive and being maintained well. The application is 100% Freeware.

MP3MyMP3 recording tool.

This brilliantly clever tool records directly from the sound card output which means that you can record anything you hear on the computer. You can use it to record live Internet broadcasts or any other audio that has no “download” option but only a “play” option. The interface is slightly weird but after a few minutes of wandering around, you get the gist of how to use it. (100% Freeware).

Mp3tag Editor

This little tool allows you to edit the tag data of any MP3 file. You can modify or add any tag including Album Title, Artist’s name, Year, track number etc. In theory, Windows Properties allows you to do this but in practice Windows sometimes gives you an error if you attempt to modify the data. This tool works. (100% Freeware).

PeaZip archive/de-archive, compression/decompression manager tool.

This application takes the place of the commercial WinZip or WinRAR tools. It installs into the context RightClick menu and allows you to do everything that these other products do. The difference is that PeaZip is 100% Freeware.


Reb Mordechai said...

My Current list of favourite 100% Freeware.

Hope you find it useful.

David K said...

Great! Thanks
You gave some great tips for useful free software, and good advice about AVG.