Thursday, June 22, 2017

Do I need to buy anti virus or Microsoft Office for my new Windows computer?

I wrote this up for a family member tonight.... thought I'd post it for posterity.  This was for someone who needed iTunes, so a Chromebook was not an option.

For anti virus, what comes with Windows 10 for free is fine. You don't need to pay extra or listen to anyone who says you do. The best things you can do to protect yourself are:

  • Do not visit websites you don't trust 
  • Don't click on anything that seems out-of-place like something that says "You have a virus! Click here to remove it" or "Click here for an update" (when you aren't specifically looking for an update). 
  • Don't even open emails from people you don't know/trust or open attachments that you aren't expecting even if it's from someone you know.
The people who write viruses are always way ahead of the anti virus people. With anti virus including the built-in one from Windows the best you can hope for is that it catches up in a few days and eventually removes the virus you already got by doing one of the things I mentioned above.

Now... Microsoft Office. Before you spend $150+ on the same old Office, here are some other options:

If you want to go the super budget-friendly route, look at Google Docs or Microsoft Office Online. These are free online-only office suites. For light word processing, spreadsheets or presentations, these are all you need and they come with at little bit of cloud storage (Google Drive or OneDrive) so you can save and access your documents and other stuff (pictures, etc.) from anywhere including your phone/tablet.

Office Online:
Google Docs:

If that's not going to cut it, check out Office365. It's subscription based... between $70-100/year or $7-10/month.

You get:
  • Download and install all of the Office apps you are used to. Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, etc. 
  • Online versions of those apps that work really well in a web browser and that you can access anywhere (same as the free one I mention above) 
  • A mobile version of all the Office apps that goes on your phone or tablet (or both) which also works very well. 
  • 1 terabyte (more than you'll ever need) of online storage through OneDrive. You can store all your stuff "in the cloud" and easily access it from any computer including your tablet or phone. Documents, pictures, videos - anything. It also makes it very easy to share your stuff with friends. OneDrive is very, very cool. 

The only catch is that if you stop paying, you lose access to the apps and have to move all your stuff somewhere else. But for as little as $7/mo, most people find it a very good value. For $10/mo you and your roomate could share an account between you (actually up to 5 people can). Also you can try it free for a month!