Viruses – These programs generally try to replicate themselves and infect other computers. Many times viruses collect information about users, but they also can be created simply to cause damage to target systems.
Please note that not all anti-virus software will run on Windows Servers. Many time you have to buy special Server Versions of anti-virus software.
NEVER: Install 2 or more pieces of Antivirus software on one computer. Doing this may crash your system and cause extensive software damage. Basically the antivirus products may think that the other one is a virus and they attack each other.
Microsoft Security Essentials
MSE is a free security suite from Microsoft. I prefer MSE vs. the other free offerings because it licensed for both residential clients and commercial businesses with up to 10 computers. Most other free antivirus software is only “free” for non-commercial use.
Many people think AVG is one of the best antivirus solutions available. It is generally very fast, and uses fewer system resources then McAfee or Norton. The free version is very good, and they also have paid for versions.
Many people also prefer AVAST. It is a good piece of antivirus software that is trusted by many technicians. The free version is very good, and they also have paid for versions.
Malware/ Spyware – These programs try to gather information about you including your account usernames and passwords. You generally get spyware by going to websites that try to infect your computer with these programs. That is why it is always a good idea to use Firefox or Chrome for web browsing, and stay away from websites that seem fishy.
Spybot Search and Destroy
Spybot Search and Destroy is a great free antimalware tool. It not only cleans your system for malware, but also ”immunizes” your system by adding entries to your HOSTS file to prevent malware from “phoning home”.
After you install Spybot run “Immunize” first before running any other scans or updates.
Malwarebytes is a tool sworn to fix spyware issues by numerous technicians. They have a free and paid for version. Consultants I know state that the free version works fine for most spyware issues.
Combofix is a free tool that automatically fixes numerous malware and virus related issues. Make sure to follow the link above to download the software. There are some sites that claim to offer Combofix, but really give you a piece of malware instead.
Be warned that the initial screen you see when you run Combofix looks fishy because it tells you to turn off your security software, but it is legitimate. Although I have not had problems with it, there is a chance that Combofix will crash your computer.
Your computer should have temporary files deleted and it’s registry cleaned to make sure that it is running properly. Simple free tools are available to help you do this. There is little benefit in paying the money for $30+ Tune-up Software Suites.
CCleaner is a free, easy to use tool that can clean out all of your temporary files, clean your Registry, and even allows you to disable items that run when your system starts up.
IOBit Toolbox contains 20 useful tools for tuning up your computer. It will clean your hard drive, defragment your registry, recover deleted files and much more. The main benefit of IOBit Toolbox is that you can run it directly from a flash drive. You do not have to install the software to be able to run it.
Although defragmenting your hard drive is not as important as many people think, it is a good idea to do once in a while. Defraggler is a free tool that easily and quickly defragments your hard drives. It is hands down much better to use then the defragmenting tool built into Windows.
Folder Size is a free utility that will show you how big your folders are. this can make it easier to find out where applications are storing large log or temporary files so that you can delete them
When you delete files you don’t actually delete them. Generally you simply delete a pointer that tells the computer that files are stored in certain locations on a hard drive. After you have deleted the pointer you can still “recover” data by using a piece of software that scans hard drives and tries to recreate these pointers.
Recuva is a great free tool to recover your deleted files. You simply install it, and then run it. You will receive a report on files that can be recovered and then you can simply select the ones you need back.
Windows 7 Enterprise Trial
This is a 90 day trial of Windows 7 Enterprise Edition. If you need to play with Windows 7, but don’t want to spend $150 on a copy this may be a solution for you.
Windows Server 2008 R2 Trial
This is a 180 day trial version of Windows Server 2008 R2.
Ubuntu Linux is currently the favorite Linux Distribution for many technologists. You can use Ubuntu for free for any purpose you like. There is a Desktop version and a Server version. The Desktop version will give you a nice graphical interface like Windows when you are done the installation. The Server version will end with a blinking cursor command prompt. If you are new to Linux install the Desktop version.
Microsoft Office 2010
Microsoft Offers 60 day trials of their Office Suites.
Microsoft Office Web Apps
Microsoft Office Web Apps provide you with One Note, Word, Excel and PowerPoint in a web environment for free for personal use. You simply go to their website and login and you can use these applications through your web browser.
Google Apps give you access to Email, Word Processing, Spread Sheet and other services through your web browser. They have free, and paid for versions.
Open Office is a free Open Source Office Suite. Now that it is owned by Oracle there are questions about whether it will stay free, and open source.
LibreOffice is a branch of Open Office that pledges to remain free and open source. There seem to have been more updates to LibreOffice then to Open Office since Oracle bought Sun Microsystems which owned Open Office.
BullZip PDF Printer
BullZip PDF Printer is a free application that allows you to print your documents into PDF files. For average users this free application does what they need done for creating PDF’s.
7 Zip is a free file compression/ decompression utility. Whether you need to open or create ZIP, TAR or RAR files you can do it with this application.