If your laptop is looking a little bare, that’s totally understandable. Software can come with a pretty high price tag, and it’s not uncommon to end up paying for some that you rarely use. If you just wanted to try the program out or find that it’s not what you’re looking for after you’ve bought it, it’s likely that you’re out of luck since many companies won’t offer refunds on these types of purchases.
Of course free trials are sometimes offered for certain programs, but after the time limit runs out, you’re left with annoying reminders and useless programs taking up space on your hard drive. Uninstalling them can be easy for more experienced users, but for the less tech savvy, it can become a real ordeal.
Sometimes new users aren’t entirely aware of how they can uninstall these free trials after they’re done with them, and at that point, the programs can start to become a bit of a nuisance. On the bright side, there are several useful programs that you can find for free, some of them acting as a handy substitute for the more expensive software available, so you don’t have to shell out a bunch of cash or play around with free trials.
But where does one begin to look for free software? Not every website is safe or legitimate, especially when it comes to downloading programs, so to get you started, here’s a list of five free programs you should have on your laptop.
1. A Virtual Private Network
Though programs are sometimes used for entertainment, this one is for the protection of your personal information and laptop and is one of the first programs you should install on your computer. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) will keep your device protected by encrypting your internet connection. As using public WiFi is somewhat common, it’s important that your connection is encrypted because of the security risks associated with unsecured networks
Even your home internet connection can be unsecured, though it’s not typical for people to leave them without password protection at the very least. Besides the encryption, VPNs protect you by hiding your location. Since a VPN is a remote server that you route your internet traffic through, its IP address will be shown in place of yours while you’re using the net.
Another useful feature of a VPN is that it can unblock websites for you, which definitely comes in handy when traveling overseas. As for options, there are many different VPN services available, some of which are free. If you really can’t spare any extra money, consider using a free VPN such as CyberGhost.
However, if you can spare a small bit (most cost less than $15 per month), I would definitely recommend trying a paid service. Paid services tend to offer faster speed and quick customer service responses. Whichever you choose, consider taking a look at this list of the best VPNs for 2015. The best VPN for your computer varies based on several different factors such as the country you live in, your device and what you tend to use the internet for (Facebook, Netflix, etc.), so it’s definitely worth reading into.
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2. An Anti-Virus Program
Unfortunately, computers tend to come along with an anti-virus program that ends up becoming another one of those bothersome programs that continue to send you reminders about upgrading after the free trial ends. Luckily, you can go ahead and uninstall that one and download a free anti-virus program instead. Just as there are several VPNs to choose from, there are also several different anti-virus programs.
In order to save you some time, here are a few recommendations. I personally prefer Panda Free Antivirus due to its easy to use interface, but the choice is yours to make based on your personal preferences. Anti-virus programs are one of the most important to have installed on all of your devices that connect to the internet, and like a VPN, they will protect and prolong the life span of your computer, smartphone or tablet by helping you to avoid malware.
3. A Great Web Browser
If you’re one to use the internet on a fairly regular basis, a great web browser is important. Though Internet Explorer (or Microsoft Edge) comes installed on the laptop of every Windows user by default, it really isn’t the best web browser available. What’s worse is that some of these web browsers are lacking when it comes to privacy.
Voted the Most Trusted Internet Company for Privacy, Mozilla Firefox not only beats the competition because of its tendency to protect its users’ privacy, but also because of its speed. It’s also very customizable compared to some of the other web browsers available, and it offers thousands of add-ons that can make your web browsing experience even better.
Also Read: Simple Ways to Clean up your Computer
4. PC Decrapifier
If you can get past the humorous name, this is actually an extremely useful program to have on your laptop. Sometime your computer will become slow over time due to the amount of unnecessary programs installed or the huge amount of temporary files lying around that you don’t really need. Some anti-virus programs will take care of the temporary files, but all of the pre-installed software will still be wearing on your computer until you manually uninstall it.
With PC Decrapifier, you’ll be able to pull up a checklist of all the “bloatware” on your machine and easily remove them without taking up a whole lot of time. This is especially useful for those who aren’t experienced computer users, as it provides recommendations as to what you should consider removing in order to get your machine running as well as it should.
Keeping your files on hand, as well as safe from deletion is a wise idea. With Dropbox, you can do just that by uploading or “dropping” your files into the program as you would your folders on your PC. The difference between just storing your files on your PC and storing them on Dropbox is that once they are added to your Dropbox, they’re stored online, so you can access them from any other device when you need instead of having to switch between multiple devices to find your files.
You’re basically able to keep a free backup of your files when using this program, and you can access them through your web browser, as well as the program itself. You’ll also be able to easily share your files with others if you choose.
This article only covers the basics of some of the programs you should have on your laptop. There are many more to choose from if you take a look. Just be sure that you’re only downloading files from a trusted source, as hackers sometimes use downloads as an easy way to access your computer and leave malware on your device.
Most importantly, keep your device protected and your files backed up because if your laptop crashes, those programs and files could become utterly useless. This is why security software is recommended first and should be installed on all of your devices before some of the other programs mentioned.