A new computer is a blank slate of potential, and a fresh installation of Windows can give your PC a new lease on life, but it's not really much until you start loading your machine up with all the programs and utilities you need for work and play. Check out these 14 apps that we'd recommend installing on a new PC, ranging from antivirus and antimalware tools to web browsers and media players. (Image Credit: Stokkete/Shutterstock)
It's obvious that an antivirus program should be the first companion of any new Windows installation. The problem is, which one should you choose? In our most recent comparison of free anti-virus software, Avast beat out six other competitors, including Microsoft's Windows Defender. Avast's free anti-virus program won praise from our hardworking testers thanks to its performance, accuracy in detecting threats, and (most importantly) user-friendly interface.
Malwarebytes is a trusted, dedicated antimalware scanner that's adept at cleaning out a variety of threats targeting your machine. The app uses a variety of techniques and technologies, from traditional payload analysis of known threats and malware programs to learning heuristics, behavior monitoring and anomaly detection to identify threats in your machine. The free version requires you to actively take the time and scan for threats, while a premium subscription unlocks real-time protection and other features.
Everyone knows that the more programs you install and run on a Windows PC, the slower it becomes. CCleaner minimizes of this slow virtual decay somewhat, by providing an easy way to clear unnecessary data from your PC. This utility also makes hiding your web history a snap.
It's still a bit hard to believe: in a span of a few years, Google Chrome has grown from its buggy beginnings into a popular heavyweight browser. Chrome does a little bit of everything, with a basic minimalist view that you can expand on with a rich ecosystem of plugins and addons, while also providing excellent cross-platform and cross-device syncing.
The first web browser that really made a dent on Internet Explorer's long-time dominance, Mozilla Firefox popularized the multi-tab setup and third-party plugins that add to the program's utility. While it's lost out to Chrome in the battle for desktop dominance, its free, open-source approach and active community of users and add-on developers makes Firefox an excellent alternative for your PC's web browser.
LastPass takes the pain out of password management, providing users with an excellent cross-platform password management tool that allows users to easily keep track of logins, passwords, and other online credentials through the use of an encrypted password vault that only you know the password to. The service provides free cross-platform syncing, a password generator, and an auto-form fill tool for a variety of browsers, with premium subscriptions unlocking more features such as premium two factor authentication, account sharing, and LastPass for Applications.
Why blow your budget on expensive subscriptions for office applications like spreadsheet or document editors, or be dependent on the vagaries of the cloud with browser-based tools when you can get an excellent productivity suite for your desktop free, open-source, and offline? That's the idea behind The Document Foundation's LibreOffice, a free suite of office tools that provide users with a complete set of productivity tools for handling everything from documents, spreadsheets, slideshow presentations, and more. LibreOffice is that wonderful combination of free and polished, making it a great alternative to expensive professional office tools.