Software usually comes in three forms: 1, pre-installed on your computer, 2, on a CD—either a performance program (like Microsoft Word) or the driver software that came with new hardware (like a modem), or 3, as a download from the Internet. Let's explore these individually:
When you buy a computer, there is an operating system (usually Microsoft Windows) and several programs already installed. Typically, these would include a word processor and other tools and applications, like Word pad, Solitaire, etc., and an Internet browser like Internet Explorer. All the software that makes you're computer function and runs hardware is system software. All the programs on the All Programs list is application software.
Some programs come preinstalled, usually as a marketing tactic, and use system resources by starting up every time you turn on your computer, like Windows Messenger and sometimes a free trial of Norton Antivirus, or some other security software. Of course, just because these programs are installed doesn't mean you have to use them. You should probably uninstall anything you won't use to avoid using your system resources.
Since software is basically just a complicated string of digital codes, the only way to physically buy it in a store is to buy a CD with the code stored on it. You then put the CD in your computer and install the program to use it. The majority of software programs (including the ones in the other categories) can be bought on a CD. Office tools, games, music players, security packages, and photo-editing programs are all typical software applications that are often purchased in stores. This is probably the most expensive route, but if it didn’t come preinstalled on your computer, it is usually worth it.
The best reason to buy software on a CD is because you can always reinstall it from the CD. Software can become corrupted, lost, or damaged after it was installed. Or worse, your computer could crash and you would have to reinstall everything back onto it. Having the CD means you can always reinstall the programs, or install it on a different computer in a matter of a few minutes.
Drivers are another type of CD software. All hardware is useless until it has the correct software that will make it be recognized by your computer's system software. When you buy a new printer, modem, or other attachable hardware, you are always prompted to install something from a CD. This is the driver. Most manufacturers will also list free links to download drivers in case you lose the CD, or the CD becomes damaged or outdated.
The Internet is one of the best and easiest ways to obtain software. You can download almost anything from the Internet, and much of it is free. There are antivirus and other anti-malware programs, browsers, games, photo/video editors, word processors and other office tools, etc. Download.com is one of the best places to find free downloads. Most people download programs because it is easier and cheaper than finding and buying it from a store. Sometimes tools and programs can be downloaded to troubleshoot hardware issues (like a corrupted driver), find and remove malicious software, and perform maintenance tasks, like scanning your computer or cleaning up unnecessary files.
You must be careful with Internet downloads, as some of them are disguised malicious software. Research a program before you download it if you're not sure that it's legitimate. You should be able to find reviews of the download fairly easily by doing a Google search for that program name.
Written by Hannah Miller, Online Marketing Representative and Customer Service, Copper.net. Copper.net is a nationwide Internet services provider that is all-American owned and operated. Call today, 1-800-336-3318 or sign up online at www.copper.net! Check out my blog for more articles!