The mysterious "Cloud"

Pittsburgh Tech Guy

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How to Backup your computer online for free

Free Software

So why does software have to be so expensive?  Answer, it doesn't!  The Internet is full of free software that is just as useful and good as anything you would pay for.  Here are some of my favorites:


Microsoft Security Essentials

AVG Antivirus

Avast Antivirus

Antivir Antivirus

My personal preference is Microsoft Security Essentials.  It is lightweight, doesn't bother you and does an effective job.  Many will swear by some of the others, but nevertheless as long as you have one of them, you are in good shape.


CCleaner - for cleaning your PC

Recuva - for recovering those you accidentally erase, either on your hard drive or any other drive (ie. flash drive, memory cards, etc.)

Defraggler - Defragmenter for your hard drive.  Note: Windows 7 comes with a built in defragmenter that defrags by default on set days and times. 

Revo Uninstaller - Uninstaller program for windows that tends to do a more thorough job at removing programs from your system.

Microsoft Fix-It Center - Handy program from Microsoft that finds and fixes hundreds of annoying Windows issues that users have documented over the years.

BattCursor - If you own a laptop running Windows Vista or Windows 7, this utility will provide your cursor with a percentage indicator of your battery life.  It also provides lots of helpful tips on preserving your battery life.

Font Printer - This utility allows you to print out a list of all your fonts in your font folder.  The usefulness of this is that with each font listed, it is actually printed out in that font.  Great for showing you what each font looks like in your font library.

PC Decrapifier - For everyone who has purchased a new computer and been annoyed with the amount of unwanted software that accompanied your computer, this program will remove them in one fine step.

Visual Task Tips was designed to provide a thumbnail preview image for each task in the Windows Taskbar, like in Microsoft Windows Vista.



Adobe Reader X - The latest version of Adobe Reader finally addresses many of the issues that Geeks complained about.  For years we went running and screaming to other .pdf readers because of the security flaws in Adobe.  They have been addressed and can now be recommended.

Foxit Reader - Still my favorite .pdf reader.  It is fast, a small download and still relatively more secure than Adobe.

PDF Creator - This program allows you to take a document or picture and create a .pdf document out of it.

Open Office - Alternative to Microsoft Office.  If you do not like or cannot afford Microsoft Office, this alternative provides the same functionality and usability as Microsoft Office.  Completely free and Open Office can read all Microsoft Office documents.

Office 2007 and 2010 Compatibility Pack - If you still use Office 2003 or earlier, you probably have been frustrated when a friend sends you a word document from Version 2007 or later.  You can't open it!  With this program, your Office 2003 will now be able to use Office documents created from Office 2007 and 2010.  Note:  Microsoft strongly recommends that you install all critical and important updates to Windows and Office prior to installing this pack.

Office 2003 Menu Bar for Office 2007 - If you have Office 2007 and yearn for the old tool bars that you had in Office 2003, this program will put it back for you.  It adds a ribbon to your other ribbons.  The new ribbon is labeled "Menu", there you will see Microsoft Word looking like it used to with previous versions.



VLC Media Player - Quite simply the best media player that you can find to play almost any kind of media file on your computer.

Windows Media Player - Has improved in quality, since it is one your computer, you might as well as have the latest version

Picasa - A good photo editing/management program.  Organizes your photo library in useful ways.

CD Burner XP - Although Roxio and Nero may have more features, this program does all the basic tasks, very well and does it for free.

Flash - If you want to see any video on the net, make sure you have the latest version of this program. You most likely already have it installed, but if you do not, follow the link

Java - Another web browser necessity.  If you want to play games, chat, etc. on the net, Java is present. Keep it updated when prompted

Desktop Themes:

Battlestar Gallactica - For you die-hard fans of the genre, this is your desktop theme

Blade Runner - I never liked this movie, but many of you did, for those of you out there, here it is.

Inception - Cool movie, even cooler desktop theme.

Colors of Paris - Visit Paris without leaving your computer chair.

Halloween - A desktop theme for the season.

Thanksgiving - A desktop theme to celebrate the season.

Animals - For the wildlife lovers



"Hey Thom, can you give me an alternative program I can use instead of (Insert the name of the outrageously expensive program here)?"

Need an Alternative to any other software you are currently using?  Try the site Alternative To.  It has a comprehensive list of the most popular paid and unpaid software and provides "alternatives to" those programs.  Little known programs you may or may not have heard of that essentially performs the same functions as the expensive paid versions.