Top Ten Essential Computer Software Programs

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Posted on January 6th, 2008


Computer Software
I got the best software installer for my pc
Computers are such wonderful machines with which you can do almost everything. Hook one up to the Internet and you have lots of information and entertainment only a few clicks of the mouse away.

You need the right software to make the computer work the way you want it to work, regardless of the purpose for which you will be using it. The kind of software you will use greatly depends on the function of your computer. There is essential software, though, that all computers must have installed on them. Check out the top ten types of computer software you should have on yours.

1. Antivirus Software

There are countless computer viruses out there and you do not want any of these to get in to your computer. These viruses can do a lot of damage if they manage to get in. The best defense against such threats is antivirus software. You have a lot of choices with this type of software – there are commercial ones as well as free versions. As long as the antivirus program is updated regularly, you’ll have fewer worries regarding viruses. For commercial software, NOD32, Norton Antivirus, and McAfee Antivirus are some of the best choices. If you want a free antivirus program, you can try AVG Free Edition, Clamwin Antivirus, and Avira Antivir.


McAfee
McAfee Security Center

 

(For some of the best ways to protect your PC, learn How to Get Rid of Computer Viruses.)

2. Anti-Spyware Software

Spyware are like viruses, but are another type of malware. Though most antivirus software detects and removes spyware, you cannot be quite sure that you are free from it unless you have anti-spyware software installed. You can get infected with spyware by simply visiting a website or installing software. This malware is a very high security concern because it basically spies on you – watching your surfing habits, logging the websites you visit, tracking the items you purchase online and all the other activities you do on the Internet. Sunbelt Software’s CounterSpy is one good commercial anti-spyware product, while Spybot Search and Destroy is effective free anti-spyware software.


Anti-Spyware Software
Spybot Search and Destroy

 

(If you feel your privacy is being infringed upon, learn How to Get Rid of Spyware.)

3. Firewall Software

Firewall software is very important, especially if you have an always-on Internet connection like cable and DSL. Firewalls prevent outsiders from connecting to the Internet or other programs installed in your computer. Such programs can only gain access to the Internet if you allow them to. Hackers and viruses will have difficulty gaining access to your computer if you have good firewall software installed. ZoneAlarm Firewall is very good free software. For commercial products, you have Sygate Personal Firewall and Norton Internet Security.


Firewall Software
Norton Internet Secutiry

4. Defragmenting Software

Your computer’s hard drive is like a filing cabinet in which you put your files. Searching for files that are inside your filing cabinet is quite easy during the first few weeks, but over time, as you remove or add new files, it becomes messed up. This makes the search take a little longer than usual. The same thing goes with your computer hard drive. At first, files are stored continuously in a linear manner. When you delete files and add new ones, it becomes mixed up. The computer can still find these files, but it would take more time to read through them. This is one of the main reasons why your computer slows down. The fragmentation of files makes access to files take much longer than usual, making defragmenting software essential. Though most operating systems already include this type of software, you’d want a faster one that’s easy to use. Diskeeper and O&O Defrag are two of the best defragmenting software programs out there


Defragmenting Software
Diskeeper 2008

5. Internet Browser

You won’t be able to surf the Internet without an Internet browser, but not just any Internet browser will do. Your operating system may have a built-in browser like Internet Explorer. However, these browsers are very common and are subject to attacks and exploits. There are quite a number of free Internet browsers out there that are useful, flexible and stable. Firefox, Opera, and Maxthon are just some of the free browsers that may perhaps be even better than Internet Explorer, or any other default web browser, for that matter.


Internet Browser
Opera Internet Browser

6. Instant Messaging Client

Instant Messaging Client
Yahoo Messenger for Mac
Today, Instant Messaging (IM) is an essential tool in communication. It enables two or more people to communicate in real time through text, regardless of location. It also allows users to communicate through voice and video, as well as to share files. Instant messaging is usually a free service. Popular services like AOL’s AIM messenger and ICQ, Microsoft’s Live Messenger, Yahoo!’s Yahoo! Messenger, and Google’s Gtalk are good IM clients that you could use. If you are one of those people who has several IM accounts, then you should use programs like Trillian and Pidgin. These are free multi-protocol IM clients that allow you to connect several IM accounts all at the same time.

7. Office Application Suite

You must have a computer that has a word processor, spreadsheet, or even a slideshow presentation program. You’ll need an office application suite in case you have to type a report or do some basic accounting, though. Microsoft’s MS Office is one of the most popular office application suites out there. You do not have to limit yourself to that suite, though, because there are actually free alternatives to this. OpenOffice is a good example of a free open source office application. It is also compatible with MS Office and is capable of saving files in MS Office format.


Office Application Suite
Open Office Writer

8. Media Player Software

You surely will be using your computer to watch videos and listen to music. You will need a good media player that can do just that. If you are not satisfied with Windows Media Player, or any other media player that you have, you should try other applications. For audio files like MP3s and WMAs, a good and free media player is Nullsoft Winamp. It can play almost any popular media format, including various video files, as long as you have the right codecs in your computer. For video files, VLC Player and Media Player Classic are both free software programs that are very simple to use without the unwanted bulk.


Media Player Software
Winamp

9. Codec Packs

Codec Packs
K Lite Codec Pack
Since you will be using media players, you will also need the right codecs to play all those audio and video files. Codecs (Compressors-Decompressors) are files that have instructions on how to decode and encode media files. Hunting for individual codecs can be painstaking, since there are a lot of codecs out there. There is DivX, Xvid, Matroska, RealMedia, QuickTime, and MPEG, just to name a few. The most convenient way to get codecs is to download codec packs. These codec packs contain most of the codecs that you will need to play modern files. Most codec packs come with an auto update feature, too. Codec packs like K-Lite Codec Pack, Storm Codec Pack, and XP Codec Pack are just some of the free codec packs you can download from the Internet.

10. Media Transcoders/Converters

This last entry may not seem to be essential to you, but in fact it is quite important. File formats today are quite confusing for computers alone. Add portable devices to that mix and prepare to get dizzy. To make things easier, media transcoders or converters are there to help you. These transcoders will convert your audio or video files from one format to another if need be. If you have an iPod Video and you downloaded a video clip you want to load in your device, you can instantly enjoy watching it by simply converting the video into the format compatible with the iPod. MediaCoder is one good open source transcoding program that you can get free of charge.


Media Transcoders
The Mediacoder

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter if you’re using your computer for gaming, office work, as an entertainment hub, or for just about anything. You’ll find spending a little time to install these essential software programs is worth your while. All of the essential software on this list has free versions that you can download without spending a single dollar. You can’t use lack of money as an excuse not to buy them.

 

(These programs may come with a price tag that’s too hefty for some of us to bear. If that is the case, these Open Source Software Alternatives to Commercial Software can help you big time. )




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