Many of these programs I use or have used, I make no guarantees they will work in the same manner for you as they did me, but most of the time I tend to share things that work out of the box with little or no hassles or headaches. I will provide download links to cnet.com as I have trusted them to provide me with safe downloads. In some cases I will give you the home page of the manufacturer for your download.
I cannot stress the importance of anti-virus software. For many years I have trusted AVG to protect my home PC's. The free edition is robust, light weight, and capable. I don't hesitate to offer this as an anti-virus solution for personal use. Here is some additional information from AVG America: AVG Anti-Virus Free offers basic anti-malware and anti-spyware protection that ensures users stay safe online. Emerging threats are identified "in the cloud" and prevented from infecting your computer via automatic updates. Information about the latest threats is collected from customers who choose to participate, enabling us to constantly identify new threats, supporting everyone in the AVG Community Protection Network and helping us to provide superior antivirus protection. Download from CNET: AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition 2012 - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/AVG-Anti-Virus-Free-Edition-2012/3000-2239_4-10320142.html#ixzz1szRM2vnI
Recently I started using Microsoft Security Essentials on a PC I assembled for the family room. The primary job of this box is to stream video ans surfing the web using a TV. I must say that I was a bit dubious at first, but have found that this anti-virus product is pretty seamless in its operation. I wouldn't hesitate to offer this as an equal for no cost anti-virus protection. You can install it in a small business with up to 10 PC's as long as you are not a academic or government entity, for home use you can install on any number of machines in your household. It bears mentioning that there are installations for both 32 and 64 bit operating systems so make sure you get the correct version.
From Microsoft: With Microsoft Security Essentials, you get high-quality protection against viruses and spyware, including Trojans, worms and other malicious software. Security Essentials is easy to install and easy to use. Updates and upgrades are automatic, so there's no need to worry about having the latest protection. It's easy to tell if you're protected - when the Security Essentials icon is green, your status is good. It's as simple as that. Download from CNET: Microsoft Security Essentials - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/Microsoft-Security-Essentials/3000-2239_4-10969260.html#ixzz1szUE60lw
Sometimes, malicious and other potentially unwanted software, including rootkits, try to install themselves on your PC. This can happen when you connect to the Internet or install some programs from a CD, DVD, or other media. Once on your PC, this software might run immediately, or it might run at unexpected times. Windows Defender Offline can help remove such hard to find malicious and potentially unwanted programs using definitions that recognize threats. Definitions are files that provide an encyclopedia of potential software threats. Because new threats appear daily, it's important to always have the most up-to-date definitions installed in Windows Defender Offline. Armed with definition files,Windows Defender Offline can detect malicious and potentially unwanted software, and then notify you of the risks. You can get Windows Defender Offline here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/what-is-windows-defender-offline
There was a time when anti-virus was more than enough protection from problems of connecting to the internet. Not unlike the castles of old digging a moat isn't good enough. You need stone fences, sumps with flaming oil, pikes, and archers on the wall. In addition to anti-virus you now need to add anti-malware to your arsenal of protection. I pick Malwarebytes for my Captain of the Guard when it comes to crushing malware. The free version is pretty complete, but the paid version has some robust features as well.
From Malwarebytes: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is an easy-to-use anti-malware application available in both a Free and PRO version. The Free version is well-known for its detection and removal capabilities, and the PRO version uses advanced protection technologies to proactively stop malware infections. Additionally, Malwarebytes offers a host of extra utilities as well as an approachable forum community to help you combat any piece of malware that exists in the wild. Download from CNET: Malwarebytes Anti-Malware - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/Malwarebytes-Anti-Malware/3000-8022_4-10804572.html#ixzz1szYPZa00
Comodo Internet Security a free, multi-layered, security application that offers complete protection from viruses, Trojans, worms, buffer overflows, zero-day attacks, spyware and hackers. Built from the ground upwards with your security in mind, Comodo Internet Security combines powerful Antivirus protection, an enterprise class packet filtering firewall, advanced host intrusion prevention, application control and anti-spyware in one supremely powerful application. Download from CNET: Comodo Internet Security - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/Comodo-Internet-Security/3000-2239_4-10460704.html#ixzz1t49X86bp
Avast Free Antivirus is a full-featured product, with the same antivirus and anti-spyware scanning engine used in our premium products. Leaner and meaner version 6.0 provides even faster protection than its predecessor and offers a web-reputation browser extension as well as virtualization technology. Accurate threat updates via avast. CommunityIQ technology ensure worry-free downloading, surfing, social networking, and gaming--for over 170 million registered users (and over 130 million active users). Download from CNET: Avast Free Antivirus - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/Avast-Free-Antivirus/3000-2239_4-10019223.html#ixzz1t4AuqvDz
Network Management/Network Monitoring Tools
Spiceworks is free network management software and help desk software designed for networks with up to 1,000 devices. I have used it for several years now and have been very pleased with it as a network management tool. The greatest strength in it lies in the fact that you don't have to be too technical to make it work. It will run on a workstation running Windows XP Professional or a server running Windows 2003 or greater. It combines help desk software, network inventory, network monitoring, IT reporting, network configuration management, even supply ordering and license tracking. It is a "Swiss Army knife" and can take a little time to set up. For a small organization it can help create an entire IT department for a single manager. Download from CNET: Spiceworks - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/Spiceworks/3000-2651_4-10571387.html#ixzz1szcvuJo0
Wireshark is a network protocol analyzer, and is the standard in many industries. It is the continuation of a project that started in 1998. Hundreds of developers around the world have contributed to it, and it is still under active development. Read or write many different capture file formats: tcpdump (libpcap), Catapult DCT2000, Cisco Secure IDS iplog, Microsoft Network Monitor, NAI Sniffer (compressed and uncompressed), Sniffer Pro, and NetXray, Network Instruments Observer, Novell LANalyzer, RADCOM WAN or LAN Analyzer, Shomiti or Finisar Surveyor, Tektronix K12xx, Visual Networks Visual UpTime, and WildPackets EtherPeek,TokenPeek, or AiroPeek. Download from CNET
: Wireshark - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/Wireshark/3000-2085_4-10668290.html#ixzz1t4CRfnf9
In the universe of your WAN, network devices are constantly under attack from villainous forces that threaten their performance and availability. What if you could shield your network devices from these evils so they could perform their duties uninterrupted? Never fear, our free Network Device Monitor is here to save the day. This free tool makes it easy to monitor the real-time performance and health of a single device on your network with a cool desktop dashboard that sends up a bat signal when your device is in trouble. Download from CNET: SolarWinds Network Device Monitor - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/SolarWinds-Network-Device-Monitor/3000-2085_4-75181914.html#ixzz1t4Dl6JSa
The one tool that has cut down on my onsite visits is none other than Logmein Free. I have used the Pro version with other clients and appreciate the fact that I can print locally and transfer files with "drag and drop" ease, but most of the time I need to see what is going on inside the users machine on the other end. LogmeIn Free will do just that. Set up take a matter of minutes and requires no reboot after installing the client software. The client has control over letting you in so that can remove the worry of unauthorized access.
From Logmein: Quickly and easily remote control your PC or Mac from any other internet-connected computer just like you're sitting right there. Access all of your files and share them with others using LogMeIn. No need for firewall, router or proxy configuration. No requirement for remote PC admin rights. LogMeIn Free includes: Remote control and desktop viewing; Copy and paste between computers; Wake on LAN; Reboot/reconnect (including safe mode); Basic reports (remote access sessions and user access); Chat, AES 256-bit encryption; SSL/TLS intrusion detection; IP address lockout. Download from CNET: LogMeIn Free - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/LogMeIn-Free/3000-7240_4-10317491.html#ixzz1szh1R4AU
If you are looking for a replacement for the costly commercial productivity software I offer you LibreOffice it is an open-source personal productivity suite that gives you six feature rich applications for all your document production and data processing needs, writer, calc, impress, draw, math, and base. There is a large base of satisfied LibreOffice users worldwide, and it is available in more than 30 languages and for all major operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Mandriva, Suse, ...). Support and documentation is free. Download from CNET: LibreOffice - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/LibreOffice/3000-18483_4-75337651.html#ixzz1t0hfgBV7
OpenOffice.org is both an open-source product and a project. The product is a multiplatform office productivity suite. It includes desktop applications such as a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a presentation manager, and a drawing program, with a user interface and feature set similar to those of other office suites. OpenOffice.org also works transparently with a variety of file formats, including those of Microsoft Office. Localizations of OpenOffice.org are available in 27 languages, with more being constantly added by the community. OpenOffice.org runs on Solaris, Linux (including PPC Linux), and Windows. Written in C++ and with documented APIs licensed under the LGPL and SISSL open-source protocols, OpenOffice.org allows any knowledgeable developer to benefit from the source. Download from CNET: OpenOffice.org - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/OpenOffice-org/3000-18483_4-10263109.html#ixzz1t0ipdczc
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. Use Evernote to jot notes, create to-do lists, clip entire Web pages, manage passwords, and record audio. Everything added to Evernote is automatically synchronized across platforms and devices and made searchable. Evernote will even recognize printed or handwritten text in photos and images. Download from CNET: Evernote - Download.com http://download.cnet.com/Evernote/3000-2381_4-10425994.html#ixzz1u0sROJYq