5 NEW FREE PROGRAMS YOU MUST DOWNLOAD
1 Microsoft PC Manager
Microsoft caused a stir in October when it quietly released a new PC clean-up tool called PC Manager through a Chinese website. The free app has since been added to the Microsoft Store (though its page is currently hidden) and now has an English-language website (www. snipca.com/44240), and we expect it to be officially launched in the first half of 2023.
Although PC Manager is still at the ‘public beta’ stage, it already provides a fast and effective way to clean and speed up your computer. You can remove junk files and space hogs; disable unwanted startup items and background processes; and scan your PC for threats and driver updates.
The app is very easy to use and integrates seamlessly with Windows 10 and 11 to perform clean-up tasks with a single click and reveal useful information about your system. This includes your current memory usage ( 1 in our screenshot below left), how much storage you have available and how long your PC takes to start
PC Cleaner is worth downloading now to try a simpler, if less sophisticated, alternative to CCleaner and BleachBit. You may experience a few bugs, but Microsoft is regularly updating the app to fix reported problems.
When we tested it, we noted that ‘treats’ were found and there was a nagging suggestion to change our browser to Edge. In the latest beta version, this has been corrected to ‘threats’ and PC Cleaner now respects and protects your default browser. We can’t wait to see its first stable release in 2023. Be aware that some Windows users have experienced problems when trying to install PC Manager – see our box below for potential fixes.
2 Hasleo Backup Suite 3
In sad news for users of Macrium Reflect Free – and we know that includes many APC readers – the excellent free backup program is being retired. Although you’ll still be able to use the current version of the software (Reflect 8 Free), it will no longer be updated and won’t receive security fixes after 1 January 2024. This puts your backups at risk from vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to steal your files.
It also means it’s wise, if not essential, to find an alternative backup solution in 2023. You may be familiar with Paragon’s ‘Backup & Recovery’ Free Edition (www.snipca.com/44247) and AOMEI Backupper Standard (www. snipca.com/44248), which are free versions of paid-for backup software with some features missing, but a new option to consider is Hasleo Backup Suite (www.snipca.com/44245).
Hasleo Backup Suite lets you back up your system, hard drives and specific files.
Free to use – with no options locked behind Upgrade buttons – version 3 (released in November) provides everything you need to back up your hard drives, partitions and entire system, and now also lets you back up specific files and folders.
Hasleo Backup Suite 3 is a doddle to use – simply click New Backup on its home screen, choose System, Disk/ Partition or File Backup (see screenshot above), then select the relevant item(s) and backup destination, and click Proceed.
You can secure your backups by encrypting them, compress files to save space and choose between full, incremental and differential backups. The software also lets you schedule your backups to run at the frequency and time of your choice, as well as offering a Clone tool for copying your current Windows installation to another PC.
3 Paint.NET 5
Packed with powerful tools and useful effects, Paint.NET has long been one of our favourite free image editors. But although it’s been updated many times over the years, the last major version (Paint.NET 4.0) was released in 2014, and rival programs such as GIMP and PhotoDemon have lured users away. So we’re excited that 2023 will see the arrival of Paint.NET 5, which is optimised for modern computers and current ways of working with graphics.