Friday, October 31, 2008

No.7 - AVG AntiVirus

Number 7 on "My Top 10 Most Useful Free Programs" is AVG Anti Virus (Available at

AVG is a very useful and necessary program for anyone that is on the internet or checks email. There is a free version and several non-free versions available.

The non-free version usually come with some extra functionality or are part of a "Security Suite" but I usually do not recommend getting full suites of software as they are usually bloated with items you don't need.

AVG does run in the system tray and will let you know when updates are available to download and actually update itself automatically.

It also has the ability to run scans on demand.

Any client personal pc I come across that doesn't have any anti virus software usually gets this update. In fact I have even removed paid versions of anti virus software in favor of AVG.

I have seen many a client pc that is infected with several nasty virures. For the amount of effort that is needed to download and install this software I cant understand why anyone wouldn't be using it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

No.8 - CCleaner

Number 8 on "My Top 10 Most Useful Free Programs" is CCleaner. (available

CCleaner is another very useful program for removing unnecessary files. This one isnt intended as a Spy or Spam ware removal tool but is still very handy at letting you know what is usually ok to delete. It checks locations like TEMP files, Recycle bins, Temp Internet Files, cookies and log file that have accumulated.

The interface is very simple as well. ( See image below)

There are two main options. Analyse will do a scan and let you know how much will be saved after you Run. Run will actually clean up the files it found.

Some advance features include a Registry Scanner that attempts to find and repair problems.

It is amazing how much hard drive space is wasted over time. This tool will help you get some of it back.

I just re-ran it on my pc and it found another 5GB of space. Try it out and see how much it can find for you...

Monday, October 27, 2008

No. 9 - Lavasoft AdAware

Number 9 on "Top 10 Most Useful Free Programs" is Lavasoft's AdAware (available at ).
Lavasoft is another one of my favorite removal programs for Spam and Spyware.

It is very simple to install and update. There are really 2 buttons that you should concern yourself with. The Update button and the Scan button.
I highly recommend clicking the Update button and download any definition updates before running any scan. As this is the free version you must run the update manually.
The paid versions will do this for you.

After the update is finished you should click the scan button to scan your pc. There are several types of scans available. The Smart Scan will check the most usual places for spam and spy ware to be install. The Smart Scan runs relatively quick. The Full Scan will check every file on your pc and could take several hours to finish.

Once a scan is finished it will display a screen with a list of items it found. You can simply click on the items and have them removed. If there is something that should not be removed you can add it to the Ignore list.

A nice feature of AdAware is the Quarantine. If you remove something that should not have been removed you can find it in the quarantine and restore it if needed.

Between Adaware,SpyBot Search and Destroy and two others (articles coming) I have restored many pcs to usable conditions.

Friday, October 24, 2008

No.10 - SpyBot Search and Destroy

Number 10 on "Top 10 Most Useful Free Programs" is SpyBot Search and Destroy (available at
As many of you know your pcs usually become slower over time. This is usually due to spamware, spyware or viruses. SpyBot is one of my favorite removal programs due to its ease of use as well as the available advanced features.

The main screen (see below image) is very simple. You really just need to click the update icon to check for program updates (the free version does not do this automatically) then click the "Check for problems" button.
The scan will take anywhere from 10 mins to 3 hours or longer depending on how much data is on your computer.

The advanced features are enabled from the Mode Menu Option (just select Advanced Mode)
On the addtional screens that become available are some very helpful options to remove various types of infections. There is a system startup page that detail what is being run when your pc starts. You have the option to disable the item or delete it entirely.

Another nice feature about Spybot is that is give you an option to "Immunize" your system. The theory is to help prevent any future infections of older spam/spware definition.

i would also like to mention that even though this is a free program it included an app called "Tea Timer" that runs in your task tray and watches in real time for changes to various startup location so if a program is attempting to install without your knowledge you will be notified. When a change is detected you will be given the option to allow or deny the change.

I can count the number of client PCs that this program has help me clean. I consider this one to be a must in your pc cleaners tool kit.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Top 10 Most Useful Free Programs

Again I am dropping the ball on updated this blog on a regular basis. Not enough hours in the day I guess...

Anyway over the next couple of weeks I will be posting several articles about My Top 10 Most Useful Free Programs. This is a collection of programs that I have put together based on years of testing out countless apps. From being in an IT support postion. (see for more info) all of these programs I use on almost a daily basis if not hourly basis. Here is the intial list. I will be posting a mini article about each one in the upcoming days...stay tuned.

Top 10 Most Useful Free Programs

1. Open Office
2. Klok
3. ZoneAlarm
4. Portable Apps Suite
6. FileZilla
7. AVG AntiVirus
8. CCleaner
9. Ad-Aware
10. SpyBot Search and Destroy

If anyone has any others to add please drop me a note as my list will inevitably change over time.