If you have a laptop, you have instant computing wherever you are. Unfortunately, using a laptop also means that you have big problems, largely relating to security. Fear not, though. The following nine downloads can help you get the most out of your laptop, while keeping your data safe and secure.
Get more out of Wi-Fi
Windows includes only a very basic tool for finding and connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots. A better bet is Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector, which shows you any nearby hotspots using a radar-like display. You get detailed information about every hotspot, including the strength, what kind of network it is (802.11n, for example), the router vendor, the channel on which it transmits, and whether it's an access point or an ad hoc network. It even shows you how physically far away you are from the network.
The program Connectify is useful for laptop owners, as well. With this tool you can turn your laptop into its own hotspot so that other people can share your internet connection. If your group is at a location with only an ethernet connection to the Internet, for instance, you can bring your wireless friends or colleagues onto that connection. And if you're at a for-pay hotspot, one person can establish on the laptop a single for-pay connection that everyone in the group can use.
Other useful tools
Another practical tool for laptop owners is BatteryBar, which shows on your taskbar exactly how much juice your machine has left so that you don't run out of power during an important task. You can learn not just how much of the charge remains but also details such as the total battery capacity, the discharge rate, the battery wear, and how much total capacity your battery has in terms of time per full charge.
If you have other computers in addition to your laptop and you want to keep them in sync, SugarSync is a great tool. It automatically synchronises files and folders among multiple machines so that your latest work is always within close reach. It doubles as backup software, too, because it also saves files and folders to cloud-based storage. You get 5GB free; to get more, you'll have to pay fees starting at $50 (£31) per year for 30GB.
See also: Buyers guide: laptop, netbook or tablet?
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