IMO, My Recommended Programs
Some of these programs are free and open source, which means the software coding is available online – and programmers worldwide improve on it every day. Some programs do cost money, but knowing which program to buy can save you hundreds of dollars that you would spend on trial and error.
Best Web Browser – Chrome or Firefox (just NOT IE)
This should be an easy decision. While Internet Explorer comes free with Windows and is still the dominant web browser, it is also known to be VERY insecure. While over time Microsoft has solved a number of the problems with Internet Explorer, it’s apparently still vulnerable to a number of issues and attacks. Even with the new version, Internet Explorer (IE) 11/edge, whatever – one would think that they would focus more on compatibility and speed – but yet again…it’s still not quite as fast as Firefox. And you would’ve thought that IE would’ve added greater compatibility but no. The number of sites that don’t render properly now, due to some strange table rendering issue, is crazy.
Ultimate recommendation: Use Chrome AND Firefox. It never hurts to have 2 browsers on your system, just in case one of them gets corrupted or what not. Plus, they’re both free, fast, and pretty tight on security. You can download Firefox at www.getfirefox.com or Chrome at google.
Best Web Browser Add-On / Time Saver – Roboform
The #1 time saver is Roboform. Roboform is a little program on your computer that fills in forms for you quickly AND saves all your passwords securely. This is much better and more safe than letting your browser store this information. Think of all your passwords – banks, credit cards, online stores, rewards programs, surveys, web-based e-mail programs… and Roboform saves so much time keeping it all for you.
Symantec’s Norton Anti-Virus is pretty much useless.
Over the past 15 years, we have over a 500 systems clearly infected with viruses, malware, scumware and spyware, and others issues – and while Norton is up-to-date and humming along proclaiming the system to be safe – it’s no where near it.
After installing Avira or Avast, I’ve typically found ten or more viruses invisible to Norton. Again, like the browser, hackers target Norton because it is the most commonly used program. Why not use something better that is updated to catch more viruses?
Avira offers a good deal with it’s free offering, and is very reasonably priced for it professional, non-annoying version.
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING AVG and Avast
Until recently, I used to recommend Avast and AVG for antivirus. I still believe they are both a better solution than Norton Antivirus, or Norton 360 etc. However, I’ve also now come across a couple of systems that were running AVG/Avast and were still infected with viruses. After installing Avira, I was able to easily clean the viruses using it’s boot mode scan.
Special Special Note: I also highly recommend installing Malware Bytes and Spybot Search and Destroy. They are especially good at finding tricky malware & spyware. sadly, I have never found a solution that covers all bases. It’s a dangerous world out there on the net.
Simple Synchronization / Remote Backup – Syncback SE
SYNCBACK SE is a very cool utility we often use to backup client server files remotely to their home systems. It works wonderfully and fit a need we had been looking for. The interface is nice and easy to use as well.
Click the link below to buy it, or if you just want more info click here: SyncBack Info
Backup in General
I know a lot of users simply want to backup their stuff easily and without hassle, go out and get an external hard drive. Let me make this clear, this is not a bad solution. BUT, it is not truly the best solution.
- What happens if the backup drive dies?
- What happens if the location catches on fire?
- What happens if the users doesn’t set an automatic backup to happen to the external drive?
Let me tell you, if you’re counting on a human (or yourself) to do your backups for you. You’re planning on false hope. I say save the money that you might spend on that external drive, and setting up the automatic backup and all that – and use an online backup system like Carbonite. It’s VERY VERY good, and easy to setup and manage. It’s $59 a year, and you won’t be sorry. It’s also very nice that it indicates which files have been backed up or not, by a small green dot next to every file.
Another good solution is Crash Plan. It’s also a good free local backup solution as well.. It’s easy to setup and manage.
I feel I should also mention that Acronis Backup is also a very good system. This backup system is what I use personally, as it actually does a what is commonly called a bare bones backup – and actually backs up the entire hard drive partition, Operating system and all – and not just the data files. When recovery comes around, you don’t have to worry about installing any programs again. It actually copies EVERYTHING. You can use an external backup drive with it, AND do external cloud backup as well. Plus, you can set it up to notify you IF/WHEN a backup fails.
I especially like the fact that nowadays, all of these systems will notify you via email if a backup has not occurred recently (and you set it up to do so).
Instant Messaging: Trillian
Forget Instant Messaging with AOL, Microsoft MSN, or even Yahoo. Create your accounts with any of them, and USE THEM ALL with Trillian. This is a free download, and the service allows you to talk with anyone on one of the four major IM providers.
Domain Registrar: GoDaddy
Arguably, many people and other techies might recommend various domain name registrars and such – but the main reason I go with Godaddy is two fold:
1) They’re inexpensive and fair.
2) Their domain management tools are the best I’ve seen.
This #2 item is pretty important – things like bulk changes and editing DNS records are extremely easy and nice. Also, changes are quick (OK, well 15 minutes is that’s your set up that way. 😉 Most domain changes still take up to 24 hours to take effect (replicate) to all DNS servers across the planet.