A lot of programs profess to enlighten you on the finer points of PC repair. People who repair PCs for a living train on this one to become certified PC service technicians. Buy A+ Certification, and the worst-case scenario is you'll know as much about PCs as the $100-an-hour techie at your local PC store. Skip the exam preparation and written study guides, and go to the meat of the seven CD-ROM set: thoroughly lucid and comprehensive insights into mastering and troubleshooting hard drives, multimedia peripherals, BIOS and CMOS settings, and the like. (Also available as seven videocassettes for $699.)
Street Price: $759
Requires: An IBM Pentium 90 or compatible PC, Windows 95 or higher, 16MB RAM, 3MB hard-drive space, Sound Blaster or compatible sound card
LearnKey / St. George, Utah
Nice and Easy
This one brings new meaning to the axiom "Do one thing, and do it well." Anyone with a Zip or other removable data storage drive is familiar with the vagaries of attempting to keep two copies of a database current. FastMove! solves that problem by synchronizing both databases with a mouse-click. It's also packed with neat custom transfer options--including an update indicator that clearly shows you which way a file needs to be copied to update both versions. Easy to install, easy to use. Easy.
Street Price: $49.95
Requires: An IBM or compatible PC, Windows 3.X or Windows 95, MS-DOS 3.3 or higher, 4MB hard-drive space TouchStone software
North Andover, Massachusetts
It's the great unknown. Who's stopping by your Web site, why are they stopping by--and what tickles their fancy? Get Hit List Professional 4.0, and you'll never wonder about such questions again. Armed with all sorts of Web site sniffers and analyzers, Hit List Professional 4.0, which resides on your Web site server, generates more than 350 predefined reports, tables and graphics. Most popular pages, most effective ad banners and ad campaigns, demographic and psychographic data vs. Web site browsing behavior--you'll get a birds-eye view of all this and more.
Hit List Professional 4.0
Street Price: $395
Requires: An IBM Pentium 166 or compatible PC, Windows 95 or higher, 24MB RAM, 2GB hard-drive space
Beware Of Dog
Never let a Web site poke around the innards of your PC to claim cookies again. Never let hostile Java applets or destructive ActiveX Control wreak havoc with your hard drive. Never let a Trojan horse trot in unwanted system failures. Never let the latest virus cast a plague on your valuable data--thanks to Guard Dog's auto-update module that links with the makers' Web site. Never put your PC privacy at risk again. (Also available as part of the McAfee Office software suite.)
Street Price: $51.95
Requires: An IBM or compatible 486 PC, Windows 95 or 98, 8MB RAM, 6MB hard-drive space
Santa Clara, California
The Simple Fax
There will always be a few curmudgeons who insist on buying a spanking new, desktop-hogging fax machine for their new start-up. For the rest of us, there's WinFax Pro 9.0, a dependable workhorse program that enables you to send and receive faxes from your PC. An industry stalwart, WinFax emerged as a top contender in the PC fax biz nine years ago and has retained its front-runner position ever since. Among its most interesting new features: the ability to send and receive faxes from a cell phone and a new workgroup capability enabling WinFax Pro 9.0 use in a network environment.
WinFax Pro 9.0
Street Price: $119
Requires: an IBM Pentium or compatible PC, Windows 95/98/NT 4.0, 16MB RAM, 57MB hard-drive space, fax modem
No Problem, Sherlock
Chances are, someone may soon make a Net search tool better than Copernic 99 Plus. But for now, this is your ticket. Instead of foraging the Net with one search engine like Yahoo! or Excite, Copernic lets you search with more than 100 Net search engines. (Don't worry, Copernic auto-filters duplicate citations.) The program also lets you add new search engines to the mix. Plus, it comes pre-programmed with 20 of its own "channel sets" designed for searching broad categories like finance, software and the like. A must for the search-weary.
*Copernic 99 Plus
*Street Price: $29.95
*Requires: An IBM or compatible 486 PC, Windows 95 or higher, 8MB RAM, 5MB hard-drive space, Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 or higher or Netscape Navigator 3.0 or higher
Joe Dysart (email@example.com), a software analyst and Internet business consultant, has written for more than 40 publications, including The New York Times.