Monday, April 21, 2014


Backup Software

All too often, I work with home computer owners that have suffered a hard drive failure and they had NO BACKUP.  Family photos, school papers and financial records are gone in a flash.  Occasionally, there is software that can be run against a failed hard drive and data can be recovered.  Unfortunately, this is often not the case.

 You may think that a backup is something for businesses and that you do not need one.  I was much the same way once.  Then, my hard drive crashed, and I lost some photos.  So many of us have digital cameras now, so when I lost the hard drive, I lost everything...there are no longer "negatives" so that I can get photos reprinted.

If you do nothing else, set up a simple backup to an external hard drive.  Make sure that you can schedule it!  A backup does no good when everyone has forgotten to run it for 2 months. offers 2GB of free backup space.  For most home users, that is sufficient to cover their "critical" files.  If you find that 2GB is not enough, they also offer UNLIMITED backup space for $4.95 per month.  That is a fantastic deal, and it is what I use at my home,


Critical to keeping your computer in top-flight condition and making sure that your personal information remains PERSONAL, anti-virus and anti-malware programs are essential in this day and age.

For anti-virus, I am very partial to AVG and have used it on all of my personal computers for several years.  They offer a free version that is a very good product.  They also have a paid version that includes some extra features that are not available in the free version.

I wish that virus software was enough, but I have found that often it is NOT.  Spyware and Malware are different from viruses, and require another software version.  MalwareBytes is a great program that I use in spyware/malware cleanups all the time.  They have a free version, but the enhancements available in the paid-for version are well worth the small, one-time fee for licensing the full version. The full version unlocks realtime protection, scheduled scanning, and scheduled updating, all critical for the software to keep you protected without you having to think about it.

In my opinion, spending a little bit of money on security and peace of mind is well worth it...and if you do not agree, both of these products have a free version that will offer you some protection anyway!



Best Software - PDF documents

PDF Viewer is a super program for viewing PDF documents, and like many of the software packages that I advocate, they have a free version as well as a paid for version.  The main reason that I like it is the "typewriter" feature, that allows me to type directly onto a document.  Most forms that you can download in PDF format are "fillable" so that you can type the information into it and then print it.  Unfortunately, there are still a lot that are not fillable.  This program allows you to type onto the form and then save a copy with your information in it.  You can download it here.

Best Software - System Cleanup

CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and make your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download.  I have used this for several years and I love this product.  There is no "paid-for" version, but they do accept donations.  Unfortunately, it does not offer any type of resident protection or automated scanned/cleaning.  CCleaner can be downloaded from the publisher's website here.

Best Software - Drive Defragmenation

The readers of (a popular "geek" site) voted Defraggler their favorite defragmentation program.  I've used it some and it does a very good job on defragmenting hard drives.  It is made by the same people that make CCleaner.  Download Defraggler here.

Best Software - Data Recovery

Recuva.  I have to admit that I have not used the software much, but I am in the process of evaluating it.  Why, then, would I post it as a "recommended" software?  Because a popular "techno-geek" website asked it's readers to vote on the best 5 data recovery softwares, as Recuva (by the same folks that brought us CCleaner and Defraggler) won almost 50% of the vote.  That's huge.  The only software that I had any previous experience with came in dead last!  I am willing to post this based on the tech communities response to it.  Download Recuva here.