Finding the best software for your needs can often be confusing. This is usually because software makers don’t want it to be simple for you. Unfortunately, the marketing strategy with software is to make the consumer feel as if they need a special program for every niche and micro-need. That just is not true. You can save yourself a lot of money and headaches by knowing which software you need and which software you don’t.

Tips on How to Find the Best Software

When it comes to researching software for more advanced or specialized needs, there is really only one trustworthy source: other people. You should read reviews by people who have actually used the software before. That includes free as well as paid software. Cnet.com is a popular software review website. ZDnet.com is another similar site. These sites have editor reviews and customer reviews. You’ll want to pay more attention to the customer reviews because those are people just like you. An editor is just one person, and they often have advanced computer knowledge. They may not always have the same perspective as someone using the type of software for the first time. So, pay close attention to what other people say about the software. These sites will also tell you if the software is freeware or shareware (the 30-day trial versions).

When searching for free software, look for the key phrase “open source.” That means the software is not only free, but many different people have contributed to making it better. A good example is the software known as OpenOffice. It’s a free and “open source” version of Microsoft Office. Many software programmers contributed to the project to try to take some of the control out of Microsoft’s hands.

You can also simply do a search on the term “XXX reviews” where XXX is the name of the type of software you’re looking for. Examples would be “mp3 software” or “CD burner software.”

Cutting Through the Garbage

Most people are smart enough to search for free software which fits their needs. However, you’ll find a barrage of garbage out there. Many times, vendors offer their software for “free” when it really is only a 30-day trail. After that, you have to pay if you want to keep using it.

Another common problem is that many people new to using computers will purchase the most expensive software thinking it will take care of everything for them. The rationale is, “It’s the most expensive, so it must be the best.” That’s another trap to avoid. Most often, the most expensive software is designed for “power users,” those people who are very experienced with computers or their specialty. Don’t assume price will solve your problems.

To cut through the overwhelming choices of software, you should always approach getting new software with skepticism. That means you should be asking yourself, “Do I really need this?”

Let’s go through some common software examples. Most people at least want to surf the Internet and read their email. So, we’ll take a look at software for browsing the Internet and emailing. These examples will show you that you probably already have the best software at your disposal.

Internet Browsers

A web browser is the software used to surf the Internet. If you’re computer has Windows, then the name of your browser is Internet Explorer. If you’re using a Mac, then you’re most likely using a browser called Safari. There is another popular browser which you can get for free. It’s called Firefox. It works for both Windows and Macintosh. Simply search the internet for “Mozilla Firefox” and download it. Opera is another browser becoming more popular. Other than the browsers mentioned here, you should not need anything else to surf the Internet. Firefox even comes with add-ons that enhance it’s features if you need it to do something extra.

Email

Many times you won’t need email software. If you’re using an online email service such as Gmail (Google’s email) or Yahoo! mail, then no software is needed. You will be using your Internet browser (mentioned above). The advantage of using web-based email is you won’t need to change anything if you get a new computer. And, you can access your email from any computer in the world. If you use a special software for your email, you’ll be stuck to receiving your email on that one computer alone. If you are really set about using a separate software for your email, then use the one that came with your computer. If you’re using Windows, it comes with email software called Outlook Express. You don’t need to buy anything else. If you have Microsoft Office, then the name of the email software is simply Outlook (without the express).

Conclusion

Most of the time, you will already have software on your computer which takes care of your needs. If not, use the resources mentioned (Cnet.com and ZDnet.com), and do an Internet search. Remember, you should be spending more time using your software than hunting for it.