I’ve posted a list of productivity tools before here that didn’t need the internet to function. They are great tools to make the most use out of your computer. This new list is for all those utilities and applications that either are built for use on the internet or really are needed in some way for internet based content and are free! As I’m a windows user, this list only covers applications for windows (many are available for multiple platforms though).
- Firefox is one of my top picks here and it really is a great browser. I’ve switched to it from using Opera for years because some of the new extensions to sync data with online accounts (Google Browser Sync) I just can’t go without them anymore. The new Firefox version 3 seems to have really improved on its major drawbacks in speed and memory usage. I’m looking forward to its full release soon of Windows 7.The extensions I use with Firefox are: All-in-One-Gestures, All-in-One-Sidebar, Forecastfox, Full Fullscreen, Google Notebook, Google Browser Sync, Google Toolbar, Print Preview, Tab Mix Plus
- Opera is a super fast streamlined web browser working great even on android tablets and another great alternative to internet explorer and even Firefox. Its not as popular as it doesn’t have as big a community and without a huge list of extensions. Opera comes with more features than Firefox and is faster while using less memory. Its downsides are that it doesn’t support as many websites as Firefox does and cannot really be extended. It does also have a great extremely fast built in mail client and torrent support. I loved it for its speed and simplicity, but if you want an elaborate address book with online syncing and other compatibilities, I wouldn’t suggest its email client.
- Google Services and Products really are a wonderful set of tools available completely for free. There are so many applications available from Google, there is something for everyone. The tools I use regularly from Google are search, gmail, reader, picasa, notebook, maps, earth, docs, finance, books and toolbar.
- Comodo Group has a number of great free tools available for online security. The one I like best is their Comodo Firewall product. It has some great modes to help the general user so the firewall itself can learn from your application use automatically so you don’t constantly have to respond to hundreds of popups. You can of course adjust the protection levels between training all the way up to paranoid which asks for any new traffic coming in or out of the firewall. Its extremely easy to use and it has always worked flawlessly for me with regular updates included. It even has some additional defense tools like registry protection and spyware/malware protection. Comodo Group also has a great backup tool plus a number of other internet security tools, definitely worth checking them out if you don’t have a good solution for internet security protection yet.
- AVG Antivirus is a great free antivirus solution. It is the most popular free solution, has great capabilities and updates available.
- Spyware Terminator is a recent find of mind after several other tools I had didn’t protect me against some nasty spyware/malware that ended up destroying my install. I hunted through many free tools and was shocked to find as many products as I did. The problem with them is that most of them were not that great. One exception to this is Spyware Terminator that I now really like. Its simple to use and has a lot of capabilities to protect your system. It includes antivirus protection based on ClamAV which is also free and integrated into Spyware Terminator’s interface.
- iTunes is a great free tool for online music and media. It seems to have a lot of fans and also a large group of people who refuse to use it since they don’t like Macs. Well, either way, iTunes is a great program to manage your media files, listen to audio content and stream radio stations and buy music / audio on line. It has some great features with smart playlists and excellent podcast support and of course the entire iTunes library.
- Filezilla is a great internet tool for accessing FTP sites. This is commonly needed for web content and online storage solutions which more and more people are becoming familiar. It is now up to version 3 and I still prefer Filezilla 2 as there are a few more options and features like file editing with automatic re-upload to the server.
- Thunderbird is a nice alternative to outlook and outlook express email clients. It has all the main features you expect of an email client like multiple accounts/servers, pop and imap support among many other great features. Many applications support integration with Thunderbird and there are a number of extensions and themes available for it to enhance it.
- Plaxo isn’t exactly an application for your computer, but it is one of my favorite online services. Basically it is a central hub for all your social networking and content that is able to accept feeds from nearly every other site and account available (stumble, linked in, multiply, reader, RSS feeds, delicious, etc) all summarized in one location which is really nice. Its feature I like best though is its ability to synchronize your email clients with its online address book and calendar. You can synchronize multiple computers and you have full support over the folders that are synchronized. I use this daily to maintain my address book for everyone I need to communicate with
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