Lightweight solutions to heavy problems

foxitIf you’re tired of big programs slowing down your machine or you have an older computer, you might consider replacing them with lightweight alternatives. There are several interesting options out there that mean your CPU doesn’t get overloaded or your desktop bombarded with add-ons that you simply don’t want or require.

One of my personal favourites is Foxit PDF Reader which replaces the notoriously slow Adobe PDF reader. The problem with Adobe PDF Reader is that, as it opens a document, it loads of ton of plugins which slow down the opening process. Foxit PDF reader on the other hand has very few extensions or plugins meaning it opens PDF documents instantly without any splash or credit screens. The only drawback is an advertisement in the top right hand corner – but you can deactivate this in the ‘View’ menu.

Another essential if you regularly play media files is VLC Media Player. The versatility of this program is superb, being able to playback both DVD’s and video in just about any format you can think of. What’s more, it opens in a jiffy – there’s no hanging around for codecs to load or communication with a server. Whenever there’s a video file I can’t play, I always revert to this program.

On the subject of media players, there is a great alternative to the increasingly bloated RealPlayer which looks more like an ageing Elvis with every release. Real Alternative doesn’t offer half the options or Media Center integration that RealPlayer does but as a result, it’s lightning-fast. The only major disadvantage of Real Alternative is that it does not support CDDB meaning it won’t automatically detect the album you are playing when you insert an audio CD.

Arguably, the most bloated of them all is Nero, which threatens to collapse under its own weight if it gets any bigger. What started out as a simple CD/DVD burning app has now become a monster that tries to do everything bar making cups of tea. My favourite lightweight alternative to Nero is FinalBurner because it burns quickly and consistently without trying to lead you in other directions.

So don’t tear your hair out with frequent system crashes or slow system performance – beat the hell out of the heavyweights with the lightweights.

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