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The best apps in life are free

There are a number of useful and completely free applications for Windows users that often appear on lists devoted to such things. In addition to a great price, the applications are also supported by Microsoft. This week, we look at three of them.

The first is an image and photo editing application, Paint.NET, that started as a computer science project at Washington State University by a couple of students. The program has an easy to use interface sporting all the essential features one would desire and Paint.NET works with many file formats. Version 3.5.5 was available last April with support for all Windows operating systems up to Windows 7. Find it at www.getpaint.net.

Another application is Windows SteadyState, which is a program that allows anyone to configure and lock down a Windows computer. Users of the PC can do whatever they want while using it but upon reboot the system completely resets itself back to the original configuration. Windows SteadyState is supported on XP and Vista but not officially on Windows 7 although some users in the forum reported no problems running SteadyState on Windows 7. The download is available until the end of this year; I hope that means a newer version of the software will be available.

Do you maintain duplicate copies of files? If so, SyncToy may be for you. It is a handy tool for backing up data that has an easy-to-use interface featuring multiple synchronization methods. The program guides the creation of a "folder pair," a synchronization mode and then allows for tweaking before actually syncing the two folders. Note: one of the folders can be an external drive. The current version is SyncToy 2.1 with both a 64-bit and 32-bit version. Search for both programs at the Microsoft download center microsoft.com/downloads.

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in computer repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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