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clippy.gif Last time I discussed finding drivers for your software programs and also how to set up a printer on Windows. Well today I am going to get onto a more interesting topic – what to put on your computer. I know countless other blogs have done lists like this so this isn’t anything groundbreaking. But I know quite a few people at the moment who are buying their first PC and who are asking me “so what do I put on this PC-thingy-ma-jig then?”. Well, here’s your answer.

So for all the newbies, parents, grandparents, techno-phobes and computer doofs out there, here’s what should be on your computer.

1. THE BASICS

A good firewall – my personal preference is ZoneAlarm

A good virus checker – why pay through the nose for Norton when you get the free and excellent AVG Anti-Virus?

A good spyware checker – despite their 2007 version not quite being up to scratch as its predecessor, I still recommend Ad-Aware for ease of use and efficiency at finding those nasty spyware critters.

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I covered AVG and Ad-Aware in a previous MakeUseOf article which you can find here Freeware to Speed up your Computer Freeware to Speed up your Computer Read More . They were also mentioned in our round-up of free security programs 10 Most Downloaded Free Security AND PC Care Programs 10 Most Downloaded Free Security AND PC Care Programs Read More .

2. BROWSER AND EMAIL

You’ll obviously get Internet Explorer as the default browser but you should definately shun it in favour of Mozilla Firefox. If you prefer, Opera is also excellent but Firefox is (in my opinion), the top browser. But don’t try to uninstall Internet Explorer. Best to keep it on the PC, at least to get the Microsoft security patches downloaded (Microsoft doesn’t allow you to download their patches using the Firefox browser. You also cannot use Firefox to access the Microsoft Office templates.)

If you want to have your email downloaded to your PC, Microsoft will naturally push you in the direction of Outlook but again, you can shun that in favour of Mozilla Thunderbird Switching To Mozilla Thunderbird!!! Switching To Mozilla Thunderbird!!! Read More . Similarly to Firefox, Thunderbird is full of useful extensions 10 Must-Have Thunderbird Addons (+ 25 More) 10 Must-Have Thunderbird Addons (+ 25 More) Thunderbird lives on. This desktop email client thrives because of its many customization options. These must-have Thunderbird addons will help you make the most of it. Read More . If you decide on Thunderbird and don’t want Outlook cluttering up your computer, you can remove Outlook (and any other Microsoft product for that matter) by inserting your Windows set-up CD into the CD drive of your computer then go to the start menu then Add/Remove Programs –>>Add/Remove Windows Components (on the left side). You can then uncheck what you don’t want and they will be uninstalled for you. But you need the original Windows installation disk for the programs to be uninstalled properly. You will also need the Windows installation disk if you want to re-install anything later. So keep that disk safe!

3. THE REST (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

Winpatrol – alerts you when programs secretly try to burrow their way into your start menu. You can also customise and control your other computer functions as well as set up scheduled tasks. You can see the MakeUseOf review here Freeware to Speed up your Computer (Part 2) Freeware to Speed up your Computer (Part 2) Read More .

Winamp – for playing audio and video. Customisable and easy to use.

7-Zip – for zipping and unzipping files. There’s also the previously reviewed Universal Extractor Open Any Compressed File with Universal Extractor Open Any Compressed File with Universal Extractor Read More but that is only for unzipping files. To zip them, you would also need something like 7 Zip.

TrueCrypt – for encrypting those files you don’t want anyone else to see. See the MakeUseOf review here How To Encrypt Sensitive Data with TrueCrypt How To Encrypt Sensitive Data with TrueCrypt Read More .

Picasa – one of the best photo management tools out there. I like how you can set up photos on the page before printing them out on photo paper.

Skype – the best VOIP telephone program on the internet. Also has an excellent chat function, and is highly customisable.

Pidgin – got more than one chat ID? Manage them all with this alternative to Trillian. Constant upgrades being put out.

The Google toolbar – I am not normally a fan of toolbars but the Google toolbar is the exception. Highly useful with quick access to the search engine and most Google services. The Firefox version can be found here.

Unlocker – helps you to stop any system processes that may be stopping you from deleting, moving or renaming a file on your computer. See the MakeUseOf article here Untangle your computer with Unlocker Untangle your computer with Unlocker Read More .

Google Earth – this is my time-wasting application. I like to zoom in on people’s houses!

FileZilla – for moving bulk files from my PC to my website. See the MakeUseOf review here Transfer Files by FTP with FileZilla Transfer Files by FTP with FileZilla Read More .

CDex – it’s perfectly legal to make private backup copies of your CD’s and keep them on the computer. I use CDex which is an easy CD ripping tool.

CCleaner – clean out all the junk that has accumulated on the computer. Cleans out temp files, cookies and much more. See the MakeUseOf review here Freeware to Speed up your Computer Freeware to Speed up your Computer Read More .

Auslogics – along with CCleaner, use Auslogics to get your files defragged and in order. You can see the MakeUseOf review here Freeware to Speed up your Computer (Part 2) Freeware to Speed up your Computer (Part 2) Read More .

eBay Turbo Lister – if you sell on eBay, Turbo Lister can help you to write and list your auctions offline. Totally invaluable, although sometimes it is a little buggy.

That’s the basic list but of course there are other programs based on your needs. For example, I find a video editing program called VirtualDub totally invaluable but unless you deal with a lot of raw video footage, VirtualDub will be not much help. I also use a paid program called SnagIt but some of you may not want to pay for a screen capture program (does anyone know of a free screen capture program?). Oh and if any of you have a website and need to make thumbnail pictures, a good program is Easy Thumbnails.

So that’s the total sum of my PC at the moment. What do you think of the above list? Do you agree with my choices or do you have better alternatives? Let’s hear it in the comments.

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