Essential Software

Last updates 21st December 2016.

There are three things every PC user needs to sort out:

  • Effective virus protection
  • Easy and automatic backup of important files (photos, documents, mail …)
  • A way of managing passwords

Here are four useful programs I use all the time, but which people generally don’t seem aware of.

Make sure you get them from the sites I list – there are fake copies and lookalike websites out there which will try to trick you into downloading something apparently similar, but harmful.

Ironically, a common way to get infected with a virus is to download somethings that claim to protect you from viruses, but which actually is a virus! Just because something has a professional-looking website doesn’t mean it’s trustworthy.

1. Malwarebytes (from


Excellent program to seek out and remove malware of various sorts. The free version runs when you tell it to — handy for a regular check – and the paid-for version runs all the time (alongside your normal anti-virus program) and tried to keep the bad stuff out.

The paid-for version costs  £40 for one PC for a year (£50 for two PCs), so worth considering if you think you might inadvertently download something sneaky.

2. ADW Cleaner (from


This is a free program which looks for specific malware items. It is quick and can remove what it finds. There are no adverts or other annoying behaviour – just run it and see what it finds. It has become so popular it has just been bought by Malwarebytes (above), although at the moment it remains a separate product.

3. Carbonite (from


This is the backup program I use, having tried several. One day I’ll write an article about backup, but for now suffice to say that a backup is really important if you have anything of value on your PC, that it should be automatic (otherwise it won’t get done) and it should be “off-site” (so that viruses, burglars, and floods can’t get at it. Costs about $60 (approx  £48) each year.

4. Enpass (from


People have far too many passwords to remember, and yet you’re not supposed to write them down or reuse them. The solution is a Password Manager which stores them securely (and will generate random ones if you want). I’ve written a whole article about them, but I wouldn’t personally be without Enpass. Free on a PC or Mac, costs various small amounts on phones and tablets.