North Fork Media


North Fork Media


North Fork Media does Web site design, ecommerce and Internet marketing strategy for small businesses, professionals and artists. We are located in the Flathead Valley of Northwest Montana and as long as you have email and a telephone, we can help you get more out of the Internet.

Free High Quality Goodies
The Internet

Back in the Old Days, everything on the Internet was free. That’s because there was no way to collect money! There were no Web sites, no Internet Exploders, no Amazon.coms. There was no spam. There were no pictures; it was all text. We had to walk to the Internet...uphill both ways...through the snow! Academic types created programs and collections of information and shared their work with the rest of the network.

That spirit of sharing ones work with the community still exists on the Internet, even in these post dotcom-boom days of Web sites based on real business plans with real products.

So, here are a few of the best free goodies that the Internet community has to offer these days. Most of these are programs you can download and install, and though I have found all these programs to be trouble free, your mileage may vary.

Free Cloud Storage: I use Dropbox to store files that I share with clients. It's quite handy. They give you 2 gigs for free and if you get the free gigs using my link they'll give us both another 500 megs as a free bonus.

Free Anti-virus: There are a bunch of good free anti virus tools available these are two of the most popular.

(Update March 12, 2016) Removed outdated links, edited descriptions, added new items

(Update May 22, 2014) Removed some outdated links and added commercial non-free antivirus

(Update July 20, 2011) I found a couple more free anti-virus apps.

The first part of FREE anti-virus protection is to make sure your system is updated. This means getting your Windows Updates installed, of course, but it also means keeping Adobe Flash, Adobe Acrobat and Java updated. Actually, I reccommend uninstalling Java unless you actually need it for something. This just removes the vulnerability, and saves you from worrying about maintaining Java. You also want to keep your browser updated, which Firefox and Chrome do automatically, and IE does with Windows Updates. I recommend not using IE as your browser. Doing these things is your FIRST line of defense because the updates remove the possibility of infection (Updates fix security holes which then cannot be exploited by virii)

MalwareBytes has been around for years, and it's gotten to be a standard in the toolkits of hacker fighters. It's become the first tool I use in case of malware attack. MalwareBytes now has two modes, Pro and Free. In Pro mode it is an active virus prevention program like Norton Antivirus, or Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE). In Pro mode it runs all the time and tries to prevent infection from occuring. In Free mode, it only runs when you do a scan. I use it in Free mode to clean up infections that got into people's systems.

Note: you can only have one "runs all the time" active Anti Virus installed on your computer. So...for example...MalwareBytes Pro -OR- Microsoft Security Essentials but not both. (MalwareBytes Free and MSE at the same time is OKAY).

I now think that people should buy an anti-virus program. The free tools have limited features, which are fine and helpful, but the paid tools have multiple layers of defense that I have come to believe can be helpful.

I've worked with a couple installations of Kaspersky Internet Security and it seems to run pretty well. Av-comparatives rates it highly for both speed and accuracy.

I would look for a deal on one of those. You can often get them heavily discounted at Costco or from an online retailer like NewEgg.

Now for the free, basic anti-virus programs:

Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) looks pretty crappy in the AV Comparatives reports. At this time I cannot recommend it. On Windows 8 & 10 it is called Windows Defender and it is already installed. It should be automatically deactivated when you install Kaspersky, AVG or Avast.

AVG Anti-Virus Free A lightweight anti-virus program, I have used AVG free on a number of computers and had no troubles yet. Free for home use. Runs on Windows XP to Windows 10. Automatic updates, resident protection. AV Comparatives rates it as both fast and good at detecting real world viruses.

avast! 4 Home Edition Both of these programs are easy on your computer, both are free for home use, both are pretty easy to use, and they often win the VB100 award. However, this one runs on everything from Windows XP to Windows 10, 32 and 64 bit. AV Comparatives rates it as both fast and good at detecting real world viruses.

[Update: recent research by independent test organizations has demonstrated that none of the anti-virus programs do a complete and 100% job of detecting and removing viruses and malware. And all of them have a significant false-positive rate (where they think a file is a virus, but it really isn't). Do your updates, and while you can only run one anti-virus program at a time, if you do get infected, you can use an online scanner, such as the one offered at, to help double check the cleanup. You can also upload suspicious files to to have them tested by a whole lot of anti-virus programs.]

Free Anti-spam: Gmail. It has the best spam filters, as far as I can tell.

Free Email Address
Use Gmail again, if you want to mail back and forth, or for an instant disposable email address, read this:

Often times, you need to provide an email address to be able to download something. And then you can expect the company to email you regularly about their products. I use a free disposable email address from Mailinator to receive the download links and registration keys. No sign up. You just make up an email address, and then go to to check mail for that address. So, say I want to get a free report from some company, but I don't want them to keep sending me emails. I have to give them an email address to get the report. I'll give them an address like: and then submit my request. Then I go to and Mailinator asks me what address I want to check email for, and I type in pickles22 and bingo, there's the link to the free report I wanted.

Free Anti-spyware
Spyware is a term for a variety of softwares that get on your computer and do things that you are not aware of or don't want. It can make pop-up windows appear when you are working in Word, it can capture passwords you type, it can watch where you go on the internet and report your browsing activites back to a 'mother ship'.

A computer can acquire spyware just by going to the wrong website. Internet Explorer's ActiveX controls can, if they are not updated and set securely, allow websites to install spyware and viruses on your computer. People also get spyware by downloading games, or little computer gizmos like Bonzi Buddy or the WildTangent games.

You check for and get rid of spyware by running a program that scans your computer. MalwareBytes is good for this purpose.

Free online scans
Security researchers Secunia offer a free scan of your computer for programs that are insecure. When researchers find bugs in software that could allow hackers to take advantage, Secunia reports these bugs and tracks the bugs on their site. You can scan your computer for buggy software so you will know what to update. A free office suite, similar in features to Microsoft Office. Used to be called OpenOffice. I use this in my business with no compatibility issues. This suite seems to be a full fledged replacement for Excel, Word, and Powerpoint and it even generates PDFs. It opens and creates Word and Excel files with no problems that I can detect. Now, I have to admit I never had much use for office software. If I need to type a letter, Wordpad seems to work just fine to me, or I use a page layout program. But I do use Open Office to make and open spreadheets, and I use it to open the .doc files that Wordpad can't open.

more free stuff - an article about free programs to use instead of photoshop.

Pixlr is a free online image editor that also has a desktop app, and phone apps. I use it all the time on my phone, and online when I am away from my computer.

The Gimp is a free advanced graphics editor.

You might want to check out Thunderbird, which comes from the Mozilla Foundation, like Firefox. I use Thunderbird and it works great. There are add-ons for T-bird, just as there are for Firefox (below), so check em out.

I use Firefox all the time as my main web browser. It is extensible and many people have written add-ons for it. Firebug is my new swiss army knife of web development. It makes life sooo much easier. I like the Web developer extension, too. You can get plugins that fill in forms and allow mouse gestures, too. It is also more standards compliant, so it is easier to make Web pages for Firefox. If everyone in the world would please download it now, I'd really appreciate it. Listen to an amazing variety of music on the Internet with Winamp Lite. Winamp is the least intrusive and smallest media player. One of the extensions for Firefox will let you control Winamp right in the Firefox window. No switching.

Find music to listen to on these web sites: (free and easy) or (free and easy) or (Free sign-up required). . Free games you play online. Cute. Stylish. Fun. Free screen saver that shows amazing real time images of the sun.

All these sites are giving to the Internet community, some out of the goodness of their hearts and some as a marketing ploy. But, they are all participating in that time honored Internet tradition of sharing.

Spring is here!





If you have a question about your Web site, call me or send an email and I'll take a look at it for FREE and get back to you.
Call Tim Van Buren at 406-755-1080

or email your questions.



©North Fork Media 2002
P.O. Box 2515
Columbia Falls MT 59912

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