Every now and then I like to get back to basics and review my advice on the fundamentals of a good PC set-up - the software no computer can do without. Technology changes and none more so than software.
Most popular software is regularly updated. Updates can solve problems and deliver great improvements or, as is often the case, add complexity and frustration.
When I find a product has outlived its usefulness or has become a burden on my system's resources, I seek an alternative and switch.
Nifty: Competition leads to innovative new ideas and clever features. Smaller software vendors aim to challenge established players by thinking outside the box. Every now and then, they get it right and build a useful alternative.
An example is Nitro Reader 3, an alternative to Adobe's Acrobat Reader, which is used for opening PDF documents. I use PDFs every day, and being able to read and search through them easily on screen means less wasteful printing and less hassle.
Adobe's free Reader software is functional, but seems to bother me for yet another update almost every week. I find the lengthy updates and restarts annoying. Nitro Reader is fast, lean and unobtrusive.
It opens, views and prints any PDF just as well as Adobe Reader, but it also adds a few nifty features. First, it installs a PDF "printer" allowing you to create PDFs directly from any Windows program by simply printing the document and choosing the "Nitro PDF Creator" printer. Nitro's other excellent feature is tabbed viewing.
If you have several PDFs open simultaneously, Nitro uses tabs across the top of the page so you can easily move from one PDF to another. I like this feature as it replicates the way most modern web browsers handle multiple web pages.
I've made the switch to the free Nitro Reader and can recommend it. You'll find the download link |and more information at| www.nitropdf.com/pdf-reader.
Modern computer threats such as malware or fraudulent scam websites can have serious financial consequences. Fortunately, there are some good tools available free of charge to defend against this.
Filter: For starters, use a regularly-updated web filter such as |Web Of Trust available from www.mywot.com. I've reviewed this simple web browser add-on several times before and continue to use and recommend it. Web of Trust is simply a filter between you and any website you visit. If it thinks the website you're about to open is risky, it will pause and warn you with a simple traffic-light system.
You can investigate further or click to ignore the warning and proceed. This way, you're alerted of scams, financial fraud, inappropriate or illegal content and even low-quality merchandise. The Web of Trust user community reviews |coupled with robust, constantly updated databases deliver trustworthy indicators of a website's reputation. Don't browse without it.
Antivirus: There is no perfect antivirus solution. Each program has its strengths and weaknesses, and these often change from one version to the next. I generally recommend any of the popular, well-reviewed products that have lots of loyal users, but also suggest you keep at least one alternative product in your arsenal.
Next week, I'll review my top three antivirus products and explain why I've changed to a new product on my own computers. See you then.
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