Word on the street is that the future of software delivery is via the
Internet. Net-based applications offer many advantages: they don't hog
hard drive space, there's less risk of application conflicts on your
desktop, and they're always up-to-date because they reside on servers
at the software publishers. You can get a taste of this type of 21st
century software by checking out some of the online apps designed to
keep your computer in tip-top shape.
Trend Micro's Housecall Virus
An antivirus program is only as good as its last update, and because
a new virus can slither onto the Web at any moment, off-the-shelf software
doesn't make much sense. That's why Web-based virus scanners hit the
spot like Mom's chicken soup on a sore throat. It's a good idea to run
virus checks as part of your regular system maintenance, and Housecall's
price can't be beat because it's free.
If you're like most people, you've got dozens of applications on your
computer. Odds are that many of them are outdated, and in many cases,
updates are free. CNet's Catch Up Net app will scan your computer and
not only tell you what's out-of-date, but it will provide you with links
to relevant updates. Most software upgrades offer increased stability
and functionality, so be sure to update the applications that you regularly
Bandwidth Speed Test
Want to know how your ISP measures up? Maybe you're dying to know if
that 56K laptop modem is really up to speed. Or, you finally want to
put an end to the raging debate with your neighbor about whether his
DSL connection is faster than your cable modem. This bandwidth test
will provide the answers.
Though the site requires a yearly subscription fee (currently $29.95),
you get your money's worth. The Clinic offers a complete suite of online
apps that will perform tasks from virus scans to spring cleaning hard
drives to identifying ways of optimizing your system. One particularly
cool feature is the application uninstaller. Not only will it remove
apps, and all those pesky residual files from your computer, but it'll
also create a compressed archive just in case you want to restore the
removed software in the future.
Pull your PC into this site and they'll run a battery of tests - such
as disk cache speed and video performance - and tell you how your machine
compares to others. While the site won't actually perform repairs, it
will offer specific tips for remedying the problems that it identifies.
This site, sponsored by Web guru Fred Langa, will verify if you have
all of the necessary browser plug-ins for the optimal surfing experience.
Bookmark this page and visit it periodically to keep your browser as
tricked-out as possible.
These sites offer just a glimpse of what we'll be seeing in Net-based
applications in the near future. It may be awhile before your main work
applications come streaming over the Web, but certainly for utility
applications such as these, who needs 'em clogging up the hard drive?
Free up space for music, video, games - the ones and zeros that really