Why pay when you can get it for free?
While many people pay a lot of money for their software, I am a firm believer in free software programs. If I can get a free software program that does the same thing as your $100 package, then I am definitely on the winning end of the argument. I sincerely hope that you take my advice and at least test the following four free software programs. If you don’t like them, at least you will know for sure!
Firefox (always and forever free)
In my other article on Firefox, I told about how much better Firefox is than Internet Explorer. I still mean it. Mozilla’s Firefox stands head and shoulders above IE as a web browser, and it has so many features that it’s hard to describe them all. The add-ons and themes allow a user to customize Firefox to be as complex or as simple as the user would like. Firefox searches for new updates at every restart, so you know you are getting the most advanced version at all times. It’s fast, safe, and free!
Free Backpack Account
I have been a user of this program for quite a while now, and I recommend it to everyone I meet. 37signals is the company that created this product, and I’d like to kiss the person that decided to offer a free version (okay, maybe a little side-hug instead). I use Backpack to keep my writing information organized online. Also, my Backpack pages have their own email addresses, so I can send links via email to my Backpack page for viewing at a later time. Every day I log into my Backpack account and get my things organized. I don’t have time to go into all the ways that Backpack is useful, but I recommend that you at least try it out!
I recently found Mozy while trying to back up my computer, and I love it! Mozy has a free version where home users can back up their computers to an online server (up to 2GB of free space). If you need more space, all you have to do is get friends to sign up and start using the free version, and you can get an additional 512MB of space! The program is easy to use, and it has advanced settings where you can choose which files or file types you would like to back up. It also automatically updates whenever the computer is idle, so that it doesn’t interfere with your computing. I don’t ever want to lose my information due to a computer failure again, so I’m backing mine up with Mozy!
AVG Free Antivirus
There are several other free security software programs that need to be added here (AdAware, ZoneAlarm, Spybot S&D, etc.). However, I’m going to stick with AVG, since many new computers are coming with Microsoft’s malicious software removal tools and a Windows firewall. AVG Antivirus is a program that I offer to install for any of my family or friends that gets a new computer. While they think they should buy a $50 antivirus package, I offer to get them set up with a free program that works just as well. AVG updates itself automatically to stay abreast of new virus threats.
I think these are the best free software programs of 2008. I use them daily, and you should, too. They can help you to be safer, more productive, and mentioning them to family and friends will make you look more intelligent (it worked for me!).