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Tips & Recommended Software

   NOTE: for current regular tips, instructions and advice, visit my Facebook Page

 Recommended Software

Occasionally, I will write up a list of my latest top free recommended Windows programs. Watch my Facebook Page for updated posts, or, check out my latest list on my tech blog Tweak. Note: the current list on Tweak is a bit out of date.



For most home users, the operating system's built-in firewall is sufficient.

Anti-Virus and Anti-Spyware – AVG Free Edition

One of the best anti-virus programs out there, and it's free! Fairly simple to use, yet powerful. And they have updates almost every day. It takes up very little in the way of system resources as it runs in the background. The occasional pop ups to install other software or upgrade to the pro version can be declined. And, although they are annoying, the pop ups for AVG Free are less annoying than the pop-ups and reminders for the other good free anti-virus programs.



An excellent anti-spyware program for doing regular manual scans. The definitions are updated frequently, and this will catch a lot more junk on your computer than some of the commercial programs. This is the best current scanner for ad-ware and spyware. For most people, the free version works fine. To install the free version, download the free version from the link above, and when installing, un-check the option to eneble the free trial.

Anti-Spam - Mailwasher Free

If you get a lot of spam all the time, this is the program for you. With it you can bounce the spam back at them and never see emails from the same spammer twice.



Mozilla Firefox

This is the browser I recommend (over all the other Mozilla/Netscape browsers, Opera, and over MS Internet Explorer). The core of it is small, but it is powerful, especially with the ever-growing amount of available extensions. And it is more secure than Internet Explorer. It is also very customizable, so it can be tuned to your liking.


Mozilla Thunderbird

This is the companion to Firefox. More customizable and user friendly than Outlook (and less bloated).


Libre Office – Office Suite

Libre Office is an off-shoot of Open Office from when the Open Office project stopped for a while. This is an all-around better version and it is updated and improved frequently. This is a free open source office suite that is comparable to and is sometimes better than Microsoft Office. It is also able to open MS Office files, and you can save to MS Office file formats too (if you need to). There are still some minor things in the file conversion processes that fall through the cracks, but improvements are continually being made in this and in other areas of the suite. Included are the following programs:

Writer (word processor)

Base (database)

Calc (spreadsheet)

Draw (drawing)

Impress (presentation)

Math (equation editor)

Note: you can export to PDF format from all of these programs.

GIMP – Image Manipulation Program

A small but powerful image manipulation program – an alternative to Adobe Photoshop.

Google SketchUp – 3D Design

A simple yet powerful 3D design program.

Media – Video, Music and Image Programs

VLC Media Player

A very good simple media player/viewer, that will also play DVDs and streaming audio/video. It is able to play pretty much every format of digital video and audio file.

Picasa - photo viewer, editor, slideshow

A fairly in-depth but fun and easy to use program for viewing, editing, and sharing your photos (and videos). The program has been discontinued and they have changed to a web-only format, but you can still download the last version from the link above.

Utilities & Miscellaneous

Cobain Backup

An easy to use backup program for scheduling backups daily, weekly, monthly or whenever. It also backs up to CDs, DVDs, network drives and external drives


A free program for compressing or decompressing a number of compression file formats. It will open zip, rar, cab, iso and many other file types.

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