Today: Apr 06 , 2020

A College Students Guide to Software

19 September 2016  
There are a million different programs to do a million different things. Who has the time to find the best one for the job? We're going to go through a list of daily tasks college students preform on their laptops and suggest the best software programs to get the job done. 

Watching Videos (YouTube, Netflix) -

We know that time scheduled for studying is best used to binge watch an entire season of Arrested Development, so we're gonna help you do that! The Windows 10 Netflix app works great and provides a clean interface that is user friendly. For YouTube, we recommend using Google Chrome. We recommend Google Chrome for a lot of things, but YouTube is something it excels at. Pair Chrome with Adblock Plus and let the cat videos roll. Google Chrome should run fine if you have either a PC, or a Mac.

Listening to Music -

Nothing helps you cram better than your favorite playlists. While Spotify is a popular choice, it's not very healthy for your PC. It can cause memory leaks and other damages to your PC that can slow it down quite a bit. We recommend using Groove Music. This program is part of the Windows Operating System by default, which means it's optimized to run on Windows already. It also has some really cool features, like the ability to play personal music that is stored in OneDrive, and if you want to pay $10 a month, it opens up a world of other features. It lacks a tad in the iOS app, but really pulls ahead with neat features and the fact that it isn't detrimental to your PC.

If you're running OSX, grab iTunes. You will be able to sync all your music across your iDevices, saving you time making sure everything is copied over. Apple Music runs for $10 a month (or $5 a month for students) and will give you the Apple equivalent of Groove Music.

Office Apps -

This one depends on your budget a bit. If you can afford $79, we highly recommend Office 365. If you have a valid school email, you qualify for Office 365 University. It comes with everything you're used to, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. (If you don't know what OneNote is and you take notes on a regular basis, you're missing out. Check out OneNote here.) In addition to the downloadable programs, you will get a whopping 1TB of OneDrive storage, which is especially useful if you don't have very much room on your hard drive for photos and documents, and as mentioned before, Groove Music can stream from a OneDrive account. So you can load up the cloud with your favorite songs and stream them anywhere on campus or in the world! Another feature that makes Office 365 our number one pick is the Office Web Apps. If you're familiar with Google Docs, this is actually way better. It's the same idea, but done with better quality and the power of Microsoft Office.

Of course, Office 365 is available on Mac's as well. Give it a shot if you have the cash to spare. It's quite a bit father along then Pages. 

If $79 a year is a bit too pricey for your budget, Open Office is a great alternative to Microsoft Office. It's completely free, open source, and very powerful. You lose the cloud and web apps, but retain the formatting options and settings that Google Docs lacks.

Virus and Malware Protection -

Window 10 comes out of the box with Windows Defender. However, your PC manufacturer may have put another antivirus program on your PC which deactivates Defender. The downside to this is the manufacture puts on a trial of a antivirus program. When the trial runs out, you're no longer protected. To counter this, we recommend uninstalling the existing program, if there is one, and doing a quick Google search on how to enable Windows Defender in Windows 10 (Oops, we did it for you). Then you should be good to go. At this point if you have a personal preference for a specific virus protection, install that now. There are some great, free virus protection software out there, but we prefer Windows Defender since it's already part of Windows.

For Malware protection, grab Malwarebytes. The free version is all you need. Just run a scan when you think you have a virus or malware infection. If you find yourself in a rough spot with an infection, click the products tab on Malwarebytes website. Then scroll down to the bottom. The Technician Tools list should give you everything you need to fix it. If you still can't figure out the problem, the amazing folks at Reddit, in the tech support subreddit, will be more then glad to lend a hand.

Malwarebytes for Mac should be what you pick up if you're running OSX. Make sure that your firewall is on, and you install updates as they come out, and you should be pretty safe. Honestly, a lot of virus protection is common sense. Read before you click, and stay away from that spam folder. 

Focus Manager -

Focusing on writing that term paper? Maybe you just need to lock yourself out of your computer so you can concentrate on your Chemistry worksheet. Cold Turkey is the solution for you. They have two products in their lineup. The first product, Cold Turkey Desktop, can be used to block specific websites or applications from running for a set amount of time. They actually do a really good job of preventing you from deactivating the timer after you have set it. There is a free and a pro version, but the pro version is only $19 one time. The extra features are pretty cool, and depending on who you are, might be worth it. You can compare the plans here.

Their second program is called Cold Turkey Writer. If you're working on a book or a paper, this is a great tool to have. Essentially it blocks you from using anything on your computer but a wringing application. It's packed with features like setting time based goals, or even word count goals. It's free forever, but if you want to go pro, you can pick up the ability to change the themes and tweak a few more settings. The pro version is only $10 one time. You can compare the free and pro versions here.

Other Programs (That We Recommend) -

Unchecky - You know when you install a program and there are boxes pre-checked to also install other software? Well, this prevents that. So get it. Use it.

CCleaner - This program helps to keep your PC running smoothly by providing scan utilities to remove junk system files that are no longer needed. It also does a few other cool things that you should see for yourself. Check it out.

PC Decrapifier - Do you have a brand new computer full of useless programs that slow it down right out of the box? Download and run this and you will be walked through uninstalling the programs that the manufacture put on your computer.



Ryan Scissons

Ryan is an Arizona native, and has lived in Prescott since he was 4. He is a 2015 graduate from Prescott High School.