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The best software tools for 2021


At the beginning of the new year, you should clean up your computer, throw out what you don’t need and try new tools. PC-WELT recommends this basic configuration for your computer for 2021.

Which programs a user needs changes every year, depending on technical innovations and a changing malware landscape. What was an absolute must yesterday may already be superfluous tomorrow and can be cleaned from the disk – just think of defragmentation tools, which are not only unnecessary, but even harmful for SSDs, or programs for compressing hard disk space that are have now survived thanks to ever larger and cheaper storage media.

In this guide, we present a number of applications that you will probably need in the coming year. These include special protection programs against ransomware attacks as well as password managers or tools for searching for duplicates. The vast majority of them are free, with only a few programs requiring payment.

Against ransomware

Ransomware is software that criminal hackers use to encrypt PCs. They then demand a ransom for the release of the decryption code. This type of attack will remain one of the biggest threats to home and business users in 2021. You can protect yourself, however. Almost every antivirus tool these days has a feature that detects suspicious activity typical of ransomware. In addition, there are a number of recommended special programs.

The free anti-ransomware tool from Kaspersky offers few functions and focuses entirely on preventing ransomware. It is therefore primarily suitable as a supplement to other antivirus programs.

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The free anti-ransomware tool from Kaspersky offers few functions and focuses entirely on preventing ransomware. It is therefore primarily suitable as a supplement to other antivirus programs.

Anti-ransomware

Tool The free anti-ransomware Tool for Home from Kaspersky monitors and analyzes the data traffic to and from your PC and all shared folders using a cloud-based database. In this way, ransomware is to be blocked as soon as it penetrates the computer. It is not possible to decrypt an already infected computer with the tool. It is primarily suitable as a supplement to another antivirus program, for example as an additional protective function for Windows Defender, whose anti-ransomware function is very simple.

Cryptosearch searches for encrypted files on the hard drive and compiles them in a list for archiving.

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Cryptosearch searches for encrypted files on the hard drive and compiles them in a list for archiving.

Cryptosearch

Cryptosearch has only one task: to search for files that have been encrypted by ransomware. The tool compiles a corresponding list so that you can archive the files on an external medium. As soon as a decryption algorithm is found, you can use it to make the files readable again. Cryptosearch is then not suitable for this.

See also:

Antivirus software for Windows 10 tested

Banking on the PC

In times of zero or even negative interest rates, it is worthwhile to look out for banks that pay at least a small amount of interest on the money saved and to switch more frequently. So that you don’t have to get used to new banking websites all the time, get yourself online banking software.

Hibiscus

Most online banking applications are chargeable. Not so Hibiscus: The open source program developed by a German company is freely available. It runs as a plug-in on the Jameica platform provided by the same developer and is programmed in Java. Hibiscus follows the German HBCI standard and thus supports all banks that make this interface available. It offers authentication via key file, chip card reader and PIN / TAN procedure.

Banking 4 offers a clearly structured user interface that is based on the Windows 10 “Settings”. Accordingly, you can quickly find your way around the program and can soon start the first account query.

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Banking 4 offers a clearly structured user interface that is based on the Windows 10 “Settings”. Accordingly, you can quickly find your way around the program and can soon start the first account query.

Banking 4

While Hibiscus requires some training, you can find your way around German-speaking Banking 4 immediately. To do this, however, this software must be licensed after a test period of 30 days. However, the price of around 30 euros is reasonable. The program supports the HBCI, HBCI + and FinTS standards and encrypts the user’s data with 256-bit AES. Banking 4 manages several accounts, combines the data in a financial overview, saves recipient lists, recurring payments and TAN codes and provides the sales data for any period of time. Versions for Android and iOS are also available for around 10 euros.

Data security

Logging in to websites and online services with a user name and password is increasingly becoming a security risk. In recent years, numerous thefts of user data from financial service providers, online retailers and other companies have become known, where the criminals have stolen thousands of access data. Often these lists later appeared on the Internet and were used by other hackers for attacks. Therefore you should protect yourself additionally. It is important that you use a separate password for each account and each account. Keep in mind the three golden rules:

  1. The password should be at least twelve characters long. The longer the better.

  2. It should consist of a combination of lower and upper case letters, digits and special characters.

  3. The password must not be found in Duden or any other work.

Since no one can remember multiple passwords of this type, you need tools. The simplest method is still the best: Write down your passwords on a piece of paper that you can store securely, for example in a lockable drawer, or that you can hide in a bookshelf, for example. Otherwise, password managers are ideal. These programs store your access data in a securely encrypted safe, which in most cases is made available online. In this way, he can be reached from any computer or smartphone. This safe is protected by a master password, which is also encrypted and only known to the user. In addition, every password manager offers a practical function for generating secure passwords using a random generator. Most password managers have to be licensed for a fee, but there are exceptions.

Lastpass is available as an add-on for all major browsers. The password manager is a pure online service that can be used from any computer with internet access.

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Lastpass is available as an add-on for all major browsers. The password manager is a pure online service that can be used from any computer with internet access.

Lastpass Free

Lastpass has a bad reputation in the scene because the manufacturer’s servers were repeatedly targeted by hackers a few years ago. However, the attackers never got hold of the saved passwords. No vulnerabilities have been reported in the program since 2017. Lastpass is a pure online service that the user accesses via a browser add-on after creating an account. Compared to the full version, the free version of the service has some restrictions in terms of functionality. For example, the user cannot create shares for other users and there is no free cloud storage space.

Behind the somewhat old-fashioned interface of Keepass is a wealth of functions that can be expanded with numerous free plug-ins.

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Behind the somewhat old-fashioned interface of Keepass is a wealth of functions that can be expanded with numerous free plug-ins.

Keepass

Keepass is the big exception among password managers. The open source tool completely dispenses with an online safe and saves the encrypted passwords on the local hard drive. However, there is a huge community around the program that has written hundreds of plug-ins for Keepass over the years.

In this way, for example, extensions for saving and synchronizing the password database via Dropbox, Google Drive and Onedrive are available. The tool does not operate as quickly as with other programs of this type, and the interface looks a bit old-fashioned. However, anyone who generally mistrusts online data storage and data security in the cloud is in good hands with Keepass.

Another method of protecting accounts and accounts is two-factor authentication. It combines two independent processes to ensure that only authorized users can actually log on. This works, for example, in that you first enter your user name and password online and then receive a TAN sent to your smartphone, which you then have to enter in addition – some banks use similar procedures.

Microsoft and Google both offer corresponding apps for Android and iOS. The

Microsoft Authenticator
You can use Onedrive to log in to cloud storage, but also for the online versions of Outlook and Office 365. However, the application also works with other services that use two-factor authentication with the TOTP (Time-based One-Time Password ) to organize.

The

Google Authenticator
was one of the first apps of this kind, but offers comparatively few functions these days. The Aegis app is more recommendable. It is open source, can also secure the registered services and can be protected biometrically. However, Aegis is not available for iOS.

Multimedia software:

The right tool for every user

Optimize SSDs

Despite higher prices, solid state disks have largely replaced mechanical hard disks. However, they also have to be optimized differently and can only tolerate a limited number of write accesses to their memory cells. Windows does some basic optimizations automatically, for others there are specialists from third-party manufacturers.

SSD Fresh helps optimize SSDs on Windows.

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SSD Fresh helps optimize SSDs on Windows.

SSD Fresh 2020

The program offers an optimization of Windows for operation on an SSD. You can use it to deactivate several Windows functions that regularly trigger write processes to the data carrier. These include, for example, hibernation, the prefetch function for loading the files that are likely to be required next or Windows logging. There is also an option of automatic optimization, which makes all settings without the user having to do anything. SSD Fresh can be downloaded free of charge and its functionality corresponds to the full version for 10 euros. This merely dispenses with advertising and offers the developer’s email support.

SSD Life takes care of the SMART values ​​of your SSD.

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SSD Life takes care of the SMART values ​​of your SSD.

SSD Life

SSD Life reads the SMART data from your SSDs and uses it to calculate the expected service life of the data carrier using its own algorithm. Of course, this assessment changes depending on how intensively you use your SSDs and how often you access them. In addition, the program indicates the previous operating time and provides you with an assessment of the current state of health. The full version for 19 US dollars also offers an automatic, regular check of the operating status of the SSDs.

SSD-Z provides all kinds of technical data about SSDs.

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SSD-Z provides all kinds of technical data about SSDs.

SSD-Z

The small freeware program SSD-Z is not only based on the popular processor tool CPU-Z in terms of its name, the surface is also designed almost identically. In addition to SSDs, it also recognizes USB sticks and SD cards and reads the names and technical data of the storage media. The data is supplemented by querying an online database that contains information on hundreds of SSD models. A benchmark test rounds off the tool’s range of functions.

data backup

The most effective method to prevent data loss due to virus attacks is regular backups to external media. Windows does have its own data backup function, but it can only compete with a full-fledged backup program with limitations.

Veeam Agent for Windows is a powerful whole computer backup tool.

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Veeam Agent for Windows is a powerful whole computer backup tool.

Veeam Agent for Windows

The free backup software Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows Free is based on the same engine as the professional Veeam Backup & Replication. It enables entire computers, drives or individual files to be backed up to connected media, network shares, Veeam servers and Microsoft OneDrive. The backup sets can be compressed and encrypted automatically. You can also activate a regular check of the backups.

Personal Backup offers many setting options and incremental backups.

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Personal Backup offers many setting options and incremental backups.

Personal backup

The free program Personal Backup from a German manufacturer has a much more playful interface than Veeam with several tabs and icons for the most important functions. However, it also offers greater functionality and supports, for example, not only full backups, but also incremental and differential backups and the creation of log files. You can use a variety of options to regulate what happens in the event of problems.

With Syncback Free you can synchronize several folders with each other.

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With Syncback Free you can synchronize several folders with each other.

Syncback Free

The synchronization of the data from two folders is also a form of backup. However, the prerequisite is that the two folders are on different drives.

Syncback Free
masters both data backup and data synchronization. The software accepts all drives and network shares integrated in the Explorer as a destination. Syncback Free does without some functions of other tools, but is easy to use.

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