Before you start using your new PC, you need to make sure it’s properly protected from the darker side of the internet. Read our Explained Guide to Internet Security, to discover what threats are out there and how to protect your PC from them.
Best package: Norton Internet Security offers protection against viruses, spyware , fraudulent emails and websites, malicious downloads and more. You can use it to protect up to three PCs in your home.
Norton Internet Security offers comprehensive protection against viruses and other threats
Best free package: Comodo Internet Security doesn’t offer quite the same level of comprehensive protection as Norton Internet Security, but it does come with anti-malware protection, a firewall and a special Sandbox Mode to protect your computer from unknown programs or those you’re wary of.
Keeping your data – documents, photos, emails and other files – safe is a critical step. Backup tools enable you to choose what to back up, where to back it up to (see our Storage Devices Buyer’s Guide for more advice) and when to back it up, so you can get on with life, secure in the knowledge that your data is fully protected.
Acronis True Image Home 2012 includes a complete selection of backup tools to protect your data
Best free package: Windows comes with its own built-in backup tool – check out our Back up your files and settings in Windows 7 and Back up and restore data in Windows 8 guides to make sure your files and settings are fully protected in case of disaster.
Over time, your PC can start to slow down as it gets cluttered with unwanted programs, files and other debris. Maintenance tools are designed to provide simple one-click fixes to most problems, delivering a faster, more stable computer without having to reach for your recovery disc.
Best package: TuneUp Utilities 2014 offers a comprehensive selection of maintenance tools – divided into four sections – for fixing problems, optimising performance, clearing the clutter and personalising your PC. And, if it sounds like too much hassle, the program is designed to run quietly in the background, mopping up problems and keeping your system lean and mean, while you get on with other things.
Best free package: IObit Advanced SystemCare Free 7 offers many of the same tools as commercial products, but doesn’t provide automatic tuning or optimisation of your PC, so you’ll need to remember to run it manually.