Desktop enhancements

9 apps for the 4th of July

We celebrate the Fourth of July with backyard BBQ and "Independence Day" reruns. But the holiday's about honoring America's fiercely independent spirit and the patriots who fought for our enduring political freedoms. Nothing symbolizes the spirit of independence better than fireworks, which have been part of Fourth of July festivities since 1777. To find, photograph, or even play with fireworks, check out our picks for the best fireworks-themed apps.

Eventful

Not sure where to go for the best view of the fireworks? Eventful (iOS) is like Yelp for local activities. Get alerts and search for nearby … Read more

Advanced SystemCare 7 Pro only $15

When it comes to Home PC diagnostic software, there's no better name than IObit's Advanced SystemCare (ASC). With over 150 million sold worldwide and a consistent top spot as our most-downloaded diagnostic program, ASC is the preferred tool for many of our users to keep their systems tidy. You, too, can keep your PC error free and running smoother than ever with Advanced SystemCare 7 Pro. Starting this week, ASC Pro goes on sale for $14.99 -- $5 off the regular price -- exclusively on Download.com.

What makes Advanced SystemCare 7 Pro stand out?

Continuously boosts … Read more

Get Hotspot Shield Elite for half off

When it comes to VPN services, no name is as well recognized as AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield. Now for three days only, you can get an entire year of Hotspot Shield Elite for only $14.99 -- half off the original price.

Why use a VPN service?

VPN allows you to browse the Web anonymously without being tracked, protects you from hackers on public Wi-Fi networks, and gives you access to any blocked Web site/content anywhere in the world.

Elite features:

Gives you access to blocked and censored Web sites and apps anywhere in the world. Makes you anonymous … Read more

Get Ashampoo WinOptimizer 11 free for 40 days -- at 30 percent off

Clean out your PC just in time for spring with the new Ashampoo WinOptimizer 11. Try it out for free with full support for 40 days (details below) or just purchase it now for $27.99, at 30 percent off the regular price.

Consistently one of our users' favorites in the optimization category, WinOptimizer 11 is the Pro version of the free WinOptimizer 2013 with some great additional features:

A comprehensive User Right Manager module, giving you more control of Windows operations. Game Booster to free up resources for those intensive applications. Detailed System Information to give you the scoop … Read more

5 tips for running Windows XP relatively safely

Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP, an OS still used by approximately 20-25% of Windows customers. That means one in four PC users must upgrade to a more secure, supported version of Windows or risk their un-updated, un-patched version of Windows XP catching a virus or other Internet bug. As a rule of thumb, we always recommend upgrading your OS and then updating it as often as possible to protect your system. If you're switching to a new OS, read how to migrate easily from Windows XP. However, if you're a die-hard who wants to keep a Windows … Read more

Windows 8.1 announcements at Build 2014

Today Microsoft officially announced upcoming features for Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1 at the Build developer conference in San Francisco.

The Windows Phone 8.1 update introduces the Action Center, a slide-down panel for notifications and phone activity similar to what's available for iOS and Android. The update brings customizable notification settings for developers, including app-specific triggers for vibration and sound.

Another big update is the introduction of Cortana, Microsoft's personal assistant powered by the Bing search engine. Though the keynote demo had some hiccups, Cortana's voice recognition shows a lot of progress and … Read more

Spruce up your PC for spring with these top apps

Every machine needs tune-ups, and that includes your PC. Without regular cleaning and updates, your system performance suffers, slowed down by hefty files and unneeded software. Fortunately, many fine -- and free! -- utilities can do the system spring cleaning for you. Here's a roundup of our favorites.

CCleaner

CCleaner is one of our go-to, no-nonsense Registry cleaners. It scans your PC for junk files, unnecessary Registry entries, and unused cookies. It's good practice to run these scans at least once a month.

Revo Uninstaller

Revo Uninstaller is an alternate uninstallation utility for Windows. What it lacks in … Read more

Partition like a pro with our Aomei giveaway

Anyone with the right set of tools can partition a hard drive. Aomei Technology aims to make the process even easier by bringing you these tools absolutely free with its Partition Assistant Pro giveaway. From March 12, 2014, to March 19, 2014, you can get the popular professional disk-management utility at no cost, exclusively on Download.com.

Why partition your hard drive?

Partitioning tells your computer to treat different portions of your hard disk as separate drives. This makes creating backups faster and easier, as most data backup tools target entire disks. Keep essential files (like the OS) on one … Read more

Get complete malware protection with Emsisoft

Malware is annoying and can come when you least expect it. With 20 million plus malware programs out there, ranging from intrusive ads to truly malicious software, it's now more important than ever to stay protected online. That's why this week's special deal can help keep your computer safe. For the next three days, you can get the award-winning scanner, Emsisoft Anti-Malware, for 40 percent off the regular price of a one-year license.

By combining its own in-house engine as well as utilizing Bitdefender antivirus' scanner, Emsisoft Anti-Malware has repeatedly garnered favorable reviews from independent "real-world&… Read more

Windows 8.1 is finally here!

On Thursday, the long-awaited update for Windows 8 was finally released into the wild. Windows 8.1 brings a slew of new features, upgrades, and overall improvements to the operating system and every app that comes with it.

If you've been using the Preview version of 8.1, many of these features should already seem familiar: swiping up from the base brings up the All Apps drawer, desktop backgrounds can move in parallax effect, and of course, the obligatory "Start" button is back (though it's just a visual icon for the home screen).

Other changes include … Read more