Three Free Programs Every Student Should Have

 College isn’t easy for students or computers. They’re both asked to handle more files, more photos and more threats than ever before. No need to panic, though. Three easy, free and reputable programs can make life easier whether you’re a freshman or a senior.

Microsoft Security Essentials
If you’re going to be downloading every file you come across on the internet, you’re going to need a good antivirus. While Norton Antivirus is great, it slows down most computers and is constantly badgering you with notifications and alerts. Free anti-viruses aren’t exactly trustworthy, and they’re less likely to be updated frequently than professional versions.

The solution? Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s completely free, and is sponsored by the Microsoft Malware Protection Center. The center houses Microsoft’s best threat detection employees who are all working hard to ensure PCs continue to run smoothly despite the looming threats on the internet. With all of that free, why wouldn’t you want to perform a simple download?
Once you have completed the set up process, set weekly reminders to you to update your software. Viruses change quickly, and your antivirus can’t keep up if you don’t do your part to keep it running.

Picasa Photo Editor
Whether you’re living in the dorms of a traditional college or taking online classes toward your associate degree, chances are good there will be a lot of memories you want to capture. When it comes time to organize and edit them, you could download a photo compiler and Photoshop. Or you could just download Picasa from Google. It takes about 30 seconds to download, and it will change your life, at least your 2-D life.
Picasa can edit photos with one touch of the iconic ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button. It will auto color correct, crop images and add filters or text. As if that isn’t enough, it also organizes your photos by folder or date and will upload albums to its online portal with another single click. Once your photos are online, you can add them to Google+, embed them with HTML code, embed them as a slideshow with different options, or share albums with different privacy settings. If you don’t need the photo editing capability, you can also use Picasa Web albums separately.

If you don’t already have it, download Dropbox now. Like, right now. Just let it start, and I’ll tell you why you need it while you wait.
Got it? Good. Dropbox is your best way to transfer files. You can share music, video and group projects with your friends and peers. If you find yourself burning CDs from friends, ask them just to drop the MP3 files into a new folder you share with them, and then you can grab the music from there.
Group projects are especially great since Dropbox creates transparency. Work on all of the documents in the folder, and your teammates will be able to see what you’ve done and vice versa. This will virtually eliminate that horrible feeling that over-achievers get when they realize the slacker of the group has done absolutely none of their part.
With three simple downloads, you’re ready for anything. You can ward off viruses, edit and share photos, and navigate group projects and social interactions.

 Jesse Langley lives near Chicago. He divides his time among work, writing and family life.