Although software might be costly, free apps have long been a staple of the desktop experience, and today’s options are rather capable. To stay afloat, software makers can use an ad-based model, donation-ware, or a shareware/freemium model that charges for additional functionality.
Crapware installers are something to keep an eye out for. Many authors of otherwise outstanding free software, or the services that offer the programs for download, bundle in stuff you don’t want to make ends meet. Worse, the installation method obfuscates the stages, allowing the malicious program to be installed without your knowledge.
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Utilities for cleaning and maintenance
Crap is the first letter of the alphabet. CCleaner cleans up the OS and browsers by removing unnecessary files. Get it and use it on a regular basis. It’ll even get rid of certain programs you didn’t thought you could.
In the age of terabyte drives, defragmenting a hard disk has become a little obsolete, but it’s still a good idea to do if you want to get a bit faster data access speed. The interface of Defraggler makes it a piece of cake to use.
It’s compatible with solid-state drives as well (SSDs).
Synchronization and backup
Put files in your Dropbox folder on your desktop, and they’ll be synced with any other PC on the account. Files can also be accessed through apps or the web. If you accidentally remove a file, you can recover it via the website. Dropbox provides two gigabytes of free internet storage.
OneDrive is the most versatile and all-encompassing sync and backup tool available. It’s Microsoft Office and Windows 10 users’ official cloud storage (it’s embedded in into the OS). OneDrive comes with a free 5GB of internet storage. If you sign up for Microsoft 365, you’ll get 1TB of storage per user.
IDrive provides you with 5GB of free storage to back up files from all of your devices. If that’s sufficient, you’ll find this service to be more than adequate. It’ll even back up your Facebook photographs and videos.
This tool’s normal, free edition allows you to generate a full system image, backup entire drives or select partitions, and schedule backups of files and folders. Sorry, but cloning a whole drive to another will now cost you the pro version’s fee.
If This, Then That, or IFTTT, is an online and app-based tool that allows you to create automations that connect your various web and smart home services and gadgets. Do you want your lights to turn on as soon as you enter through the door? When you add a new contact, do you want a backup to be created? Want to get notified by email or text when the weather turns bad? Only your imagination limits the number of possible combinations and permutations. (Of course, some tools don’t offer you complete access, but hey.)
Another player in the field of service and app automation, Zapier focuses on enterprises and helps them get the most out of all the services they use. Get ready for a surge in productivity. You can do up to 100 automatic actions per month with the free edition.
Firefox is a web browser developed by Mozilla. Firefox, the venerable browser, is still our Editors’ Choice. That’s because it’s highly customizable, secure, private, and fast, and it complies with a raft of new requirements. Chrome is a web browser developed by Google.
Chrome is still one of the best browsers to have in your arsenal. Especially if you’re a Google fan—embedded it’s directly into Chrome OS on Chromebooks, so it’s basically the operating system. If you’re a privacy champion, it’s probably not the browser for you, even if it will stop allowing tracking cookies in the future.
Video conferencing is synonymous with Skype. Skype, now owned by Microsoft, is “a highly polished, immensely functional service that operates on every device you can think of (even the internet) and offers more communication possibilities than any of its competitors,” according to our Editors’ Choice assessment. You may make unlimited video calls between Skype users, including groups of people, for free. Furthermore, its ability to translate in real time is straight out of science fiction.
This service allows up to three individuals on PCs to video chat and even share screens without paying any fees or requiring any setup other than giving a URL or organizer code. Sign up for an account or log in with your Google or Facebook accounts to claim an online meeting “room” that you can use on a regular basis. It works on any desktop or laptop because it is web-based.
Do you want to host an online meeting for 100 of your best friends? They can all see what you’re exhibiting for up to 40 minutes from any device, including a smartphone, thanks to Zoom. Direct one-on-one HD video meetings will also be possible. You can also talk as much as you wish.
There have been numerous attempts to replace Windows Explorer (a file manager marinating in weak sauce). Multi Commander stands out because it has many tabs, a file viewer, and dual panels to show you all you need to know.
You’ll come across an archive file at some point in your life—a single file that contains (and compresses) several files. They come in a variety of formats, ranging from RAR to ZIP to 7z and beyond, and the software required to read them can be costly. It’s not 7-Zip. It provides access to all of these and more, as well as the ability to create new archives. It’ll even encrypt the data for added security. It’s completely free and open source.
Don’t be fooled by the XP in the name; this is an up-to-date tool for burning ISO images and more to CDs and DVDs.
It’s available in a variety of languages and identifies all of the drives that it’s compatible with. It is compatible with all versions of Windows.
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