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Top 10 free software apps for your laptop

Downloads to help you get more on the go

Laptops in general, and netbooks in particular, may give you the freedom to work on the go, but we also find that working on the move throws up a few frustrations. Here are our 10 favourite free downloads to solve your woes about working on the go.

Frustrations include trying to keep data or bookmarks on a portable synchronised with those of a desktop PC or other laptops.

We've also struggled with diminishing battery life, needed assistance getting connected at hotspots or staying safe once online. And we've wondered how to take full advantage of USB flash drives.

But we've found help - and it's all free. Here are ten no-cost pieces of downloadable software that will solve your synchronisation, battery, Wi-Fi, and USB woes. They'll make it easier and more fun to get your work done, too.

Synchronisation Tools

If you own a desktop in addition to a laptop, you constantly have to deal with synchronising files and folders between them.

If you're not careful, you'll end up working on older files on one computer while the newer versions sit on the other. Worse yet, when copying files between the machines, you might accidentally overwrite a newer version with an older one.

The following three freebies solve those problems for you. They can synchronise your files automatically, and they can even synchronise between PCs and Macs.

SugarSync Free
This excellent software does double duty as a synchronisation tool and as an automated backup program.

Exceedingly simple to use, it offers 2GB of free online backup space, takes up little RAM and few system resources, and works with Macs as well as PCs. All that, and it's free.

Simply install the software on your computers and indicate which folders to synchronise; SugarSync Free then works in the background.

If the computer to which you wish to sync is not online, the files will sync to it when it returns. In addition to syncing the files, SugarSync Free backs them up online.

You can do a lot more, too, such as sharing files and folders with other people. The software also keeps older versions of your file online so that you can revert to any of them.

The free edition of the software will synchronie only two computers, and it has a limit of 2GB of online storage space.

Pay-for versions let you synchronise among multiple PCs and offer faster upload speeds; prices range from $5 to $25 (£3 to £15) per month.

Windows Live Sync
What if you want to synchronise your laptop with more than one other desktop or laptop, but you don't want to spend the money that SugarSync charges for it?

Give the free Windows Live Sync a try. With this tool, you can sync folders on as many computers as you want, and you don't have to pay a penny.

Keep in mind, however, that this software doesn't include online backup; it only synchronises folders from computer to computer.

Using Windows Live Sync is even easier than working with SugarSync Free - the method of adding and removing folders is more straightforward.

Since you manage everything from a website, you can set up your synchronisation options in a single step rather than multiple ones.

Like SugarSync, Windows Live Sync works with Macs as well as PCs. However, I have been unable to get the software to work with Snow Leopard, the newest version of Mac OS X; if you want to synchronise with a Snow Leopard Mac, you may run into problems.

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NEXT PAGE: Xmarks

  1. Software downloads to help you get the most when on the go
  2. Xmarks
  3. Wireless networking utilities
  4. USB flash drive programs


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