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10 must-have programmes (all free) for your PC

When you buy a computer, it only comes preinstalled with operating software. Before you can use or make the most of it, you will have to install several programmes or utilities. There are tons of programmes - paid as well as free - available for computers running Windows operating software. Here are 10 that we think you should install right away, if you haven’t done so far
  1. Chrome: Internet Explorer (IE), which is bundled with Windows 7, is a huge improvement over the IE of past. But it still falls short of high standard set by competition.

    Chrome, a Web browser developed by Google, is arguably the fastest, cleanest and usable Web browser available right now.

    With support for plug-ins, Chrome offers immense functionality. Web browsing is an important part of computer experience and our suggestion is that you install Chrome as soon as possible.

  2. CCleaner: This one is not really needed for a new computer. But once your shiny machine is one-month old, you will likely require something like CCleaner (short for crap cleaner). The reason is that over the time a computer accumulates junk.

    There are temporary files, missing registry links and useless system resources. If not removed, they tend to slow down a computer.

    Running CCleaner every month or two keeps your computer in pink of health.

  3. Avira: All new computers, if not assembled, are likely to come with a paid anti-virus programme preinstalled. But in most cases this anti-virus programme is just the trial version. Once it expires after a month or so, people rarely upgrade it.

    And an anti-virus programme that doesn’t get updated is good for nothing. The solution in these cases is to get a free anti-virus programme.

    Like Avira that is better than many commercial anti-virus programmes and yet doesn’t cost a dime for personal use. It lacks some advance features but for home or personal use you don’t need them anyways.

  4. Zone Alarm: People don’t realize but a firewall is quite important. Something like Zone Alarm Free Version won’t stop skilled hackers - it they are after you - but it will definitely give you a great control on how your internet connection is used.

    A firewall can allow you to control how which programmes in your computer connect to the Web and how. Very handy tool to have at your disposal.

  5. KM Player: Microsoft has hugely improved the native video player in Windows 7. Yet, as it is in the case of browsers, third-party programmes are even better. KM Player is one of the most versatile video players available for computers.

    The interface is good, there are myriad of options for power users and - you will love it - the support for various media formats is outstanding.

    You can pick any popular video format, and KM Player will handle it all fine.

  6. CPU-Z: It’s a programme that doesn’t do anything. Instead it just displays some vital information. Geeks are using CPU-Z for years now. But we believe that mainstream users too can benefit from it.

    This programme finds out the hardware details of your computer and gives you exact make of your processor, its speed, amount of RAM and details of graphics card.

    The information can greatly help in diagnosing or pinpointing a problem or save the day for you when you decide to upgrade the RAM. In our view, every computer user should run CPU-Z at least once immediately after buying a computer so that he can see if he is getting what he paid for or not.

  7. Open Office: Microsoft Office is considered an essential programme. But it’s expensive and it’s bloated. If you are not sold out on Microsoft brand, you should definitely give OpenOffice.Org- also called OOO - a try. It has Write, Cal, Impress, Draw and Base.

    Effectively, these programmes offer everything that a basic version of MS Office does. The best part of the deal - it’s all free and all files created with OOO are compatible with MS Office.

  8. Foxit Reader: This is a programme that can be used in place of Adobe Reader - a proprietary and bloated piece of software - to read PDF files.

    Unlike Reader, Foxit is lighter on resources, is fast and offers nifty features like tabbed PDF reading. It’s free and totally worth. Just take care to deselect several add-ons and other junk while installation.

  9. Picasa: In the age of Facebook and phones that can shoot photos - in some cases exceedingly well - a new computer ought to have some sort of image editing and managing utility. Yes, you can have Photoshop or Lightroom.

    But that costs hell lot of money. And in any case, you don’t need something like Photoshop unless you are a pro or photography enthusiasts. For everyday needs, Picasa works fine.

    Not only it allows basic editing but also enables you to store your photographs in Google cloud for easy access and sharing.

  10. Free download manager: In India, where quality of internet connection is often poor, a dedicated download manager is a necessity. Your download might be 99% complete, but a little disruption, can ruin it all.

    In case of large files it is particularly frustrating. To avoid these heartburns, our advice is that you install Free Download Manager (FDM).

    It supports group downloads, can efficiently use available bandwidth and sustain peak download rate, can resume or pause downloads at websites that support the feature, integrates with Web browsers and comes with an option to shut down the PC once a download is complete.

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