Let’s make a quick comparison between your computer and your house. Regardless of how things used to be back in the good old days, today you wouldn’t leave your front door and windows open, allowing anyone to simply walk inside and take a look around. And you shouldn’t do the same with your computer.
While nearly every computer store will try to sell you antivirus software (€34.99 for Norton Security 2015 for five devices at PC World, normally €89.99), there are plenty of free alternatives out there.
Virtually every computer store will try to sell you antivirus packaged with your new computer, generally in the form of Norton. What they won’t tell you, however, is that there are plenty of great and free alternatives out there. Options like AVG Free, Avast Free and Avira Free are all worth looking into.
No single antivirus offers a bulletproof security solution. That’s why you should consider adding an extra layer such as Malwarebytes to the mix. Though there is a premium version that adds preventative access to malicious websites, real time protection and scheduling of automatic scans and database updates, the free version will detect and remove malware that your antivirus could miss.
Keep up to date
Maintaining antivirus and malware defence solutions go a long way towards keeping your computer safe from intrusion, but you also need to keep your computer software up to date. Flexera’s Personal Software Inspector scans the software on your system and determines the programs which require updates to maintain security. If you want, you can set it to automatically detect potential security risks, download the patches and install them, or simply let you know when updates are available.
Over time computers gather junk files and settings which take up valuable space on your hard drive. Enter CCleaner from Piriform, a handy tool that deletes unused files and settings, clears browser history and cookies, maintains your computer’s registry and provides a simple way to manage the programs which run in the background each time you boot your computer, improving start up times and performance (just be very careful as to which you enable or disable).
Microsoft’s Office suite might be a household name, but it’s also quite expensive (€69 per year for the Office 365 Personal suite).
If you’ve already spent your budget on a new computer, free alternatives include OpenOffice and LibreOffice, which work on a similar basis. Google Docs is a great online-only option, particularly handy if you want to share and collaborate (multiple people can edit documents at the one time, across different locations).
If you’re a student or teacher, and you really want the official suite, you could be eligible for free access to the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OnceNote, Access and Publisher. As long as your school or institution is taking part, simply sign up with your school-provided email address and you can install Office 365 on up to five PCs/Macs and up to five mobile devices.