Tune-Up With Net Apps

by Gareth Branwyn for Digital Living Today

Word on the street is that the future of software delivery is via the Internet. Net-based applications offer many advantages: they don’t hog hard drive space, there’s less risk of application conflicts on your desktop, and they’re always up-to-date because they reside on servers at the software publishers. You can get a taste of this type of 21st century software by checking out some of the online apps designed to keep your computer in tiptop shape.

Trend Micro’s Housecall Virus Scanner
An antivirus program is only as good as its last update, and because a new virus can slither onto the Web at any moment, off-the-shelf software doesn’t make much sense. That’s why Web-based virus scanners hit the spot like Mom’s chicken soup on a sore throat. It’s a good idea to run virus checks as part of your regular system maintenance, and Housecall’s price can’t be beat because it’s free.

CNet’s Catch Up
If you’re like most people, you’ve got dozens of applications on your computer. Odds are that many of them are outdated, and in many cases, updates are free. CNet’s Catch Up Net app will scan your computer and not only tell you what’s out-of-date, but it will provide you with links to relevant updates. Most software upgrades offer increased stability and functionality, so be sure to update the applications that you regularly use.

MSN’s Bandwidth Speed Test
Want to know how your ISP measures up? Maybe you’re dying to know if that 56K laptop modem is really up to speed. Or, you finally want to put an end to the raging debate with your neighbor about whether his DSL connection is faster than your cable modem. This bandwidth test will provide the answers.

McAfee Clinic
Though the site requires a yearly subscription fee (currently $29.95), you get your money’s worth. The Clinic offers a complete suite of online apps that will perform tasks from virus scans to spring cleaning hard drives to identifying ways of optimizing your system. One particularly cool feature is the application uninstaller. Not only will it remove apps, and all those pesky residual files from your computer, but it’ll also create a compressed archive just in case you want to restore the removed software in the future.

PC Pitstop
Pull your PC into this site and they’ll run a battery of tests – such as disk cache speed and video performance – and tell you how your machine compares to others. While the site won’t actually perform repairs, it will offer specific tips for remedying the problems that it identifies.

WINDOWS Magazine’s Browsertune
This site, sponsored by Web guru Fred Langa, will verify if you have all of the necessary browser plug-ins for the optimal surfing experience. Bookmark this page and visit it periodically to keep your browser as tricked-out as possible.

These sites offer just a glimpse of what we’ll be seeing in Net-based applications in the near future. It may be awhile before your main work applications come streaming over the Web, but certainly for utility applications such as these, who needs ’em clogging up the hard drive? Free up space for music, video, games – the ones and zeros that really matter.

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