Lots of folks ask me about computer help. Here are a few free things to help keep your computer happy. There are pay versions of some of them, but if you need/want free it will all definitely work for you. I believe that all of these have a message board of some type that other users will help you with questions on how to set up, run, use, configure, etc. if you need extra help.

AVG – Anti-virus Program
You MUST have an anti-virus program on your computer and you MUST keep it updated daily! A lot of people have whatever was installed on their computer when they bought it new (probably Norton or McAfee) but they let the update portion expire and so the program really isn’t doing all it needs to after that. If you can’t afford (or just are on the frugal side) try AVG. It’s free to download and use and the updates are free also. Make sure to uninstall any other anti-virus programs fully before you install a new one.

Zone Alarm – Firewall Program
This is more helpful than Windows XP’s built in firewall. They have lots of other versions, but the free version is useful also.

CCleaner – Optimization Tool
This one is great – it’s more often referred to as “Crap Cleaner” and it does just that, cleans out all the crap off your computer. Gets rid of old temp files, cookies, and all sorts of other stuff. Run often and your computer will thank you.

Spybot S&D – Anti-spyware/malware
This helps keep a lot of spyware and malware off your system or clean it up if it does show up. A little more technically challenging for many, but definitely worth your effort and time. At the very lease keep it updated and use the immunize function.

Ad-Aware
Another program, with a free version, to help with the junk out there

Spyware Blaster
And yet another program to keep your computer running smoothly.

HijackThis
This program is more complex, but very handy and helpful. Download and install and follow the instructions. If you think you are infected or need more help in deciphering what the log has shown you head over to The Tech Support Forums for more detailed help.

Microsoft Updates
Ok, so not really an extra program, but you do need to visit here and check for updates if you are using a Windows based system. Most of you probably have your computer set for automatic updates, but a manual check occasionally never hurts either. If you use Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) you also need to check the Office Updates section for important updates.