There is a saying that nothing in life is free however, I do believe that there are some very good free software programs that you should use on your system to help maintain it, keep it free of malware and viruses and even provide technical support to family and friends.

There are of course many other free offerings out there but these two are my top recommendations because I have a very personal experience with each of them.

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) by Microsoft

This recommendation should come as no surprise to anyone who is a regular reader of this site or listener to the Observed Tech PODCAST.

I started using MSE when it was first offered as a beta from Microsoft and have been using it ever since on all of the PC’s in our home.  In all of that time we have not once suffered an infection or malware attack.  Now it is not the sole job of the software to keep us free of those types of infections either.  The gray matter that resides between your mouse finger and what you see on the screen is a very big part of keeping your system clean and free of infections and attacks.  You must have good computing habits across the board.  And yes, on a couple of occasions when my own gray matter has not been properly engaged, MSE has caught things for me and kept the system free of viruses/malware.

MSE can be downloaded from Microsoft at and is available for systems running Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.  On a side note the software will not work on Windows 8 because the foundation of MSE is included on the upcoming version of Windows by default to offer protection to systems with no third party anti-virus/anti-malware installed.  In Windows 8 it is called Windows Defender .

MSE consumes very few system resources as it keeps an eye on your system as you browse the web, check email attachments and download files from the Internet.

The software is not only offered free for home use but small businesses can install it on up to 10 PC’s at no cost as well.

MSE features include:

  • Real-time protection
  • System scanning
  • System cleaning
  • Windows Firewall Integration
  • Dynamic signature service
  • Rootkit protection
  • Protections against all threats


The other free software recommendation I want to make to you is Soluto.  Soluto is an Israeli based company that ahs actually been in the business of analyzing how your PC boots up for more than two years.  The first version of their software monitored boot up programs and times to offer recommendations to speed things up.  These recommendations were based on the thousands of other Soluto users who were analyzing their boot up sequences and sharing that anonymous data with Soluto.

About six months ago Soluto released the latest version of their software that expanded this monitoring service to other areas of the hardware and operating system. This new update can now find out what frustrates users with crashes and lock ups in order to make recommendations to improve the end user experience by cleaning up the boot process and also several areas of the OS.

Now many get concerned at this point because of data being monitored from your system to Soluto but they collect all the info anonymously and do not read any of your personal info/data or browsing history.

Soluto offers a comprehensive browser experience to monitor the computer based systems which have the Soluto Agent installed. The Soluto Agent runs in the background and monitors your system for issues which it will send to Soluto and that info is then fed back to your account on the website to provide recommendations on how to improve the overall performance of the PC.

So how many of you are the unofficial tech support for your family?  Many of us are and Soluto understands that by offering a built in system where you can monitor up to five PC’s for free through your own account at Soluto and help maintain those systems for family and friends.  The process is very easy and when you set them up in your account you will customize an email with your info and info about Soluto with links for them to install the Soluto Agent on their system.  Within a short period of time you will begin to receive recommendations to improve their system performance.

Soluto does not leave the folks your helping out in the dark either.  They will be notified when you have made changes to help improve their systems performance and will even be able to see detailed system information about their machine.

I am currently using Soluto to monitor four family and friends PC’s and each are having a better computing experience because we have been able to eliminate some frustrations by using Soluto to keep an eye on things.

You can learn more and sign up for your own account at  The first five monitored systems are free of charge and additional systems, or slots as Soluto calls them, can be purchased.

Keep an eye out for a future post that will offer opportunities for additional free slots from Soluto in conjunction with

Your Turn

I would love to hear from you and find out what your favorite free software programs are. Just let us know in the comments below to start the discussion.