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It’s 2020 everybody. Time to get your act together! And by that, we mean to sort out your digital spaces. The following is a list of software essentials that absolutely everybody needs. If you don’t have one of the items on the list here, do yourself a favor and download straight away. Let’s get started!

Antivirus

Good antivirus software or collection of products will help ensure you don’t get into trouble with malware, etc. online. Malwarebytes is a popular choice for many consumers and is available across all devices. If you have a Windows laptop, it will come preloaded with Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security which makes for a fairly decent firewall without any added costs. Is it worth it to purchase antivirus software? It certainly is more efficient and effective than free versions if you can afford it.

VPN

A virtual private network is handy for encrypting all the web traffic to your device, which is good practice for security reasons. You can use a VPN on computers as well as on your phone. A VPN is a must-have when accessing sites that you would prefer no-one to know about, such as online casinos, banking sites, medical sites, and others.

It’s also a bit of an essential when traveling as you can choose a VPN server to connect to back home, so you are still able to access the same websites as at home, which otherwise may be region-blocked in the country you are traveling in. Those same online casino sites, banking sites, and medical sites are better directed through a home VPN server as a general rule of thumb. ExpressVPN is one of the most popular and trusted VPNs currently.

Encrypted chat

Want your chat to stay private? If you use an encrypted chat app, then not even the company who makes it can view what’s being said and sent between you and the other person. Unlike other chat apps, which can be viewed by the company, then mined for data (like suggestions for products to sell you), encrypted chat gives you that security you need.

Most people choose WhatsApp, however, for extra security (and an app not owned by Facebook) you should take a look at Signal.

Facebook Messenger

While encrypted chat is great, not everyone you know will use it. Almost everyone has a Facebook account. Even if you don’t use Facebook itself, the Facebook Messenger app is a good way to keep in touch with everyone. This is especially handy when you’re traveling or have run out of phone credit for calling or SMS (or only use a data package).

Skype

Why would you need Skype when you have all these other communication apps? Skype is great because you can purchase credit and use it to call any phone number in the world. If you’re needing to get in touch by phone internationally it is far easier than trying to figure out an international call card package.

Private browser

Browsers like Chrome and Microsoft Edge have been designed to give you great user experience, it’s true. If ease of use is your main goal for internet usage, Chrome comes up trumps.

However, if you are concerned about privacy, then there are better browsers to use. Try out Brave or Firefox and see which one strikes your fancy. Don’t forget add-ons that can help make browsing safer too, such as HTTPS Everywhere and UBlock Origin.

Cloud storage

Not having backups or backing up to an external hard drive is an easy way to lose important data forever. If you don’t already have cloud storage, then it’s time to roll over. Cloud storage means your data is stored on other servers around the world with inbuilt redundancy making it almost impossible to wipe. With cloud storage, you usually get versioning of files, too – which means you can go back to an older version of a file if needed.

Google Drive is a popular choice for many and is free up to a 15GB limit, Microsoft OneDrive offers 5GB for free or comes with 1TB with the Office 365 subscription(!). Another option that’s been around for many years is DropBox.

Password bank

“Don’t reuse passwords, or passwords that are similar” is common knowledge, although not everyone actually does it in practice. One way to never forget passwords or reuse them is to use a password bank/password generator. These are highly secure password vaults that contain all your passwords.

All you need to do is remember the password to the password bank and you are good to go. The most popular password bank available today is LastPass, which is available for mobile and desktop. It’s easily searchable, plus with a browser add on it autocompletes passwords for sites it already knows or can generate new passwords in fields on sites you are signing up to.