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5 geeky, free Windows programs non-geeks should know about

Download Squad's regular readers are smarter than the average bear when it comes to software. You're familiar with the apps we review -- or brave enough to go try them out if you haven't. Your friends and family probably aren't quite as up to speed, and they should be. There are loads of excellent free programs out there that could be saving them time and preventing headaches -- if they only had the right tools!

Let's check out five programs that they should know about...

CCleaner (pictured above)
There are banner ads all over the place for tune-up programs and registry repair or cleaning apps, but most of them are about as useful as lips on a chicken. CCleaner, on the other hand is great at what it does. Two quick scans with CCleaner can rid your system of gigabytes of temporary files and tidy up crud hiding inside your Windows registry. CCleaner also lets you create a backup of the registry data it removes so that you can put it back if something goes wrong.

One thing to know about: the normal CCleaner installer offers the toolbar. Simply uncheck the boxes when they appear to avoid installing it, or download the Slim installer instead.

Comodo EasyVPN
Ok, most "geeks" probably aren't using EasyVPN but that doesn't mean it's not a geeky program. What does it do? It sets up a virtual network between any computers you install the program on. It's like having them all in the same place and plugged into the same router even if they're miles apart from each other. So what can you do with EasyVPN?
  • take remote control of your home or work computer
  • browse folders and transfer files
  • print documents to a remote, shared printer
Unlike a lot of other remote control (like GoToMyPC) and VPN programs, Comodo is free for use in both home and work settings.

If more people knew about Malwarebytes, I'd probably notice a drop in the number of systems on my workbench that need trojans and rogue antivirus programs removed. Malwarebytes is an amazing program, and it keeps getting better at cleaning up things like XP Antivirus and Security Tool.

The paid version of Malwarebytes gets you realtime protection (like a regular antivirus program), automatic updates and scheduled scans, but the free version is identical otherwise. Run a manual update, and just remember to run a scan every now and then.

There are just so many useful things you can do with a free DropBox account -- and places you can use it -- that everyone can get some benefit from the service. A free account gets you 2GB of online storage, which is plenty of space for you to save important documents, pictures, or other data you want to be able to access from anywhere.

Putting files in your DropBox is easy -- it's basically just another folder on your Windows system like My Music, My Documents...Heck, it's even called My Dropbox! You can get at your stored files through their website or via the handy iPhone app.

Macrium Reflect [free version at]
Backing up individual files and folders is a good idea, but since hard drives are so cheap anymore why not just back up your entire hard drive? Macrium Reflect creates a single-file snapshot of everything on your system and it's a great way to protect your data in the event something catastrophic happens (like your main hard drive failing). If you've got an image saved somewhere safe (like an external USB hard drive), you can boot your computer with a Macrium recovery CD, restore the image to a new drive, and be running again as though nothing ever happened -- within minutes!

This is just the first installment. Stay tuned for more apps and share your favorites in the comments, DS readers, so we can include them next time!
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Tags: ccleaner, comodo, dropbox, easyvpn, free, freeware, geeky, imaging, lists, macrium, malwarebytes, reflect, utilities, windows