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I now return to the original question posted at the beginning of the chapter: how can you keep expenses down when it comes to software for your U-PC? Now that you're aware of the different types of software and the potential costs with some of them, do what I do and ask yourself two questions: when should I pay for software and when should I look for free software?

The answer to both questions really comes down to a personal choice. I like playing computer games, and many of the game titles I want to play cost money. Yes there are free games, but they're typically not as complex and well-developed as the pay-to-use titles (but sometimes I'm pleasantly surprised by a free game). So, in this case, I don't mind spending money sometimes to get the software I want, especially if there simply isn't a competing product.

But there is a lot of competition for other things I use my computer to do: word processing and photo editing, for example. I don't have $400.00 to drop on the most popular photo editing software, but I've found that Picasa (see Chapter 8) not only provides what I need in a photo editing app but many people (including me) also believe that it's better than the pay-to-use, big name software!

The remaining chapters in this book introduce you to some alternative applications that are applying some competition to the BNAs. Read through the chapters, examine what the software does and how it performs, and ask yourself this question: "Can this application provide me with the features I need?" If the answer is yes, you've taken a good step forward in further reducing your computer expenses.

FREE SOFTWARE WEB SITES

There are a ton of web sites out there that collect free software and allow you to search using keywords and/or categories—a good example is SnapFiles (http://www.snapfiles.com), shown in Figure 3-6. But be careful with these kinds of web sites—what they list as "free" can often mean free to download and install for a period of time. In other words, they offer trialware, and you'll have to pay to keep using it.

One form of free software you'll probably encounter on these sites is shareware. This type of software is usually provided on the honor system (you're asked to pay a small fee or make a donation if you like the software and want to continue using it.) I like SnapFiles because it has two tabs in the top-right corner (Freeware and Shareware) that immediately get you to 100 percent free versus trialware/shareware.

Services such as SnapFiles do a good job of filtering out the junk as well as scanning the free stuff for viruses and other malware, but don't always assume that's the case. With any software you download from these types of sites (or anywhere, actually), always run a virus scan to make sure that the installation files are clean.

Use the most downloaded computer monitoring software on SnapFiles.

Use the most downloaded computer monitoring software on SnapFiles.

isible. Award-Winning Computer Monitoring

Weekly Highlight Software Showcase isible. Award-Winning Computer Monitoring

Weekly Highlight Software Showcase

Figure 3-6. Web sites such as SnapFiles collect free software for visitors to sift through.

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