Useful Software & Essential Applications
What software do I need for downloading and streaming content?
To answer this question accurately, you must first decide how you want to download or stream content, as well as what sites you plan on using. A lot of people simply stream movies and TV shows on, say, Netflix or Hulu. In order to do so, all you really need is a web browser for your computer or an app for your phone. Well, this along with, of course, a subscription to these services. But as anyone knows who has subscriptions to one or more premium streaming services, the bills can add up rather quickly. The cost of using streaming platforms such as these ones, therefore, leads many to seek out alternative means of streaming content – of which there are plenty.
One of the classic ways to bypass paying for content is to torrent it. Although a lot of people don’t love this method, as it remains in a bit of a legal gray area and internet service providers have been known to issue cease and desist letters to individuals who torrent movies and TV shows regularly. However, there are ways to do so, by making use of a few of the useful software items in my list, so that nobody is the wiser to the fact that you are torrenting at all. If you think that torrenting might be the best route for you, there are a few programs that you could definitely benefit from.
The useful software that anyone who wishes to torrent media files will need is, of course, a torrent client program. This is where your torrents will actually download once you find them on the web. Most people use one of two torrent clients: uTorrent or Bit Torrent. Which one do I recommend? Well, I would go for uTorrent, since it is nearly as powerful and fast as Bit Torrent but eats up a fraction of your computer’s memory and hard drive space.
Once you have downloaded a torrent program, for your safety and online anonymity, I highly recommend that you check out my list of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) – they are in a separate category, but are great examples of useful software, nonetheless. A VPN will make sure that nobody – not your internet service provider, not the government, not a rogue hacker – will be able to see anything that you do online. A solid VPN is a must-have for any would-be torrenter.
Another option, of course, for anonymous and private browsing of the internet would be to make use of the Tor Browser. Made infamous by its capabilities for accessing the dark web, the Tor Browser is just as much a piece of useful software for those of us who want to use the clear web as well. It is an internet browser, just like Firefox or Chrome, that automatically encrypts your IP address, making your online activity even harder to trace.
But maybe torrenting does not seem like it is worth the risk or the effort. Maybe you would rather just stream movies and TV shows online for free in a way that is 100% legal. If so, you are in luck. There are countless free movie and free TV show streaming sites out there to choose from. Each of which, however, often comes with its own complications … like ads or, in a worst-case scenario, viruses and trojans. Even if you are using a VPN, that will not make you impervious to such problems. A good ad blocker, on the other hand, can sometimes do the trick. But we will elaborate on that more in a bit.
Why should I install these programs on my computer or mobile device?
Even if you are not taking advantage of free streaming sites, torrenting, or any of the “alternative” ways of watching movies online, there are plenty of useful software out there that you will benefit from. Even the most basic premium streaming sites will be made 100 times better from the right web browser. It is just a fact that a solid freeware web browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox will provide a faster, more streamlined experience, especially when it comes to streaming movies and shows. You need a browser that can handle the frequently backbreaking demand that streaming sites often put on your computer.
Really, though, the best software for you will boil down to what you are trying to accomplish. If you want to download videos (even ones that are not technically made available for download), for instance, you might want to head over to my review of J Downloader or Video Download helper. Suddenly, with the help of video download software such as these, you do not have to be connected to the internet to enjoy your favorite videos, movies, and shows.
If you do think that the downloading route, whether you plan to download via one of those free video downloading programs or you plan to use free torrents, is right for you, then there is a good chance that you will also require a solid media player. One that, ideally, can handle any file type. And, boy, do I have the perfect media player for you.
Another free program, VLC Media Player is, by far, the best media player I have ever encountered. No matter where I have downloaded a file, no matter the file type, I have never run into a playback issue with VLC. I’m sorry to say, but Windows Media Player is just not going to cut it … especially if you plan on downloading free movies and TV shows. Head over to my review of VLC Media Player to learn more about how it can transform the way you view content forever.
Is there any software to help me block those annoying ads?
Absolutely, there is! As I touched on before, lots of free movie streaming sites, unfortunately, are riddled in ads. The worst free streaming sites might also even have trackers in trojans within those ads. Of course, I would never knowingly add a malicious free streaming site to my list of reviews, but the blunt truth is, they do exist. Fortunately for us free movie and TV show streaming lovers, though, there are some great ad blockers out there.
Usually, extensions to be added on to your web browser of choice, ad blockers do a pretty excellent job of filtering out a majority of ads that you would otherwise be subjected to – not just on free streaming sites, but any site that employs advertising. If the ad cannot appear, then your computer cannot be affected by it. It is not a viable alternative to decent antivirus software, of course, but it can nip some issues in the bud by eliminating a potentially harmful ad before it ever causes a problem.
Again, don’t expect freeware like AdBlocker Plus to be a magical cure-all. The fact is, it is not like you download AdBlocker Plus and will never see an ad again. There will still be the occasional ad. However, ad blocker software like this one certainly cut down the number of ads. I would say by roughly 75 to 80%.
Will I have to pay to use these programs?
This, of course, depends on the software in question. But, surprisingly, a majority of the most useful software that I have reviewed and listed on StreamingSites are 100% free. That is one of the best things about programmers that create useful software – they often do so out of the goodness of their hearts; they do so because they are passionate about a freer and more open, safer internet. And, thus, most programmers that code useful software makes it open-sourced and free to use right off the bat.
That being said, a great deal of these organizations that offer useful software do accept donations. So, if you find a program that you love and use frequently, please consider a donation if you can afford it. These donations are what keep programs like this open, free, and without ads.
Some of these useful programs will also offer premium versions. And some, like uTorrent for example, do have ads until you upgrade. That being said, you definitely won’t have to break the bank to make use of these awesome programs.
I don’t want my kids watching violence or adult content … What can I do?
This is a very understandable concern. The internet being free and open is great, but that also means that it can be a very dangerous and inappropriate place sometimes for children. The good news, though, as a parent is that there are solutions to this problem. The first that comes to mind is to find a great web browser. The best free web browsers will have built-in parental controls, allowing you to censor certain content or specific websites. Google Chrome, for instance, has a great parental control feature built right into the browser.
There are also other programs that you could check out, such as Net Nanny and Norton Family, which allow you to keep your kids off of undesirable corners of the web. If you can think it, chances are it can be done with one of the many pieces of useful software that I have listed here on StreamingSites!