Nick Peers

Bitdefender Total Security v25 (2021) unveils new release schedule alongside improved user interface

Everyone needs some form of protection against online threats, and while Windows has tightened its security over the years, it still only offers basic protection. For those looking for additional layers of protection, such as a more configurable firewall or proactive protection against ransomware, then a paid-for security product is a must.

In a crowded marketplace, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, but one product that continues to score highly in independent tests is the powerful Bitdefender Total Security 25.0.

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VMware launches VM Fusion Player 12 for Mac; VM Workstation 16 also updated

VMware has released major updates to its virtualization software products in the form of VM Workstation 16.0 for Windows and Linux, plus VM Fusion Player 12.0 for Mac.

Mac users gain a free 'player' version of VMware Fusion for personal use, while both products gain support for Kubernetes clusters, allowing users to run multiple app containers at once in specialized 'nodes'. Support for Windows DirectX 11 apps and games has also been added to virtual machines.

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Vivaldi 3.3 unveils new screen-break feature alongside customizable Private Window theme

Uniquely customizable browser Vivaldi gets another major update with the release of Vivaldi 3.3 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The new release adds a major new Break Mode feature to encourage regular screen breaks.

The new release also offers users the ability to create and apply custom themes to their Private Windows sessions -- a first among web browsers -- as well as several improvements to the Address Bar to improve security and navigation. Full-Page blocking is now supported in the Tracker and Ad Blocker tools, while users can now drag and drop Speed Dials to folders on the Vivaldi 'desktop' on the user’s home page.

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Google Web Designer 9 adds powerful image-processing tools, custom keyboard shortcuts

Google has released Google Web Designer 9.0, the third major update of its HTML-5 content-producing tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux in just over a year. The tool is particularly popular among web advertisers thanks to its user-friendly WYSIWYG user interface and time-saving tools such as syntax highlighting and code auto-completion.

Version 9.0 introduces a host of useful new tools, including an eyedropper for easy color picking, several image-processing tools, support for masking, and the ability to set up custom keyboard shortcuts.

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IObit Uninstaller 10 promises to remove programs quicker and more thoroughly with its latest update

IObit has released IObit Uninstaller 10, major new update of its uninstall tool for Windows. IObit Uninstaller aims to clean programs (including Microsoft Store apps) more thoroughly from your PC than the apps' own uninstallers by detecting leftover files and Registry entries.

Version 10 promises vastly improved uninstall speeds and better leftover detection, plus improvements to its Install Monitor component. In addition, Pro users gain better bundleware detection, and newly added support for removing over 40 stubborn programs.

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Acronis TrueImage 2021 adds anti-malware protection to its comprehensive backup tool

Acronis has launched a major new version of its flagship backup product with the release of Acronis TrueImage 2021. The new release has one major highlight: integrated protection against anti-malware.

There are also several minor improvements to the tool's backup engine, but the focus is very much on the new anti-malware protection, which is based on the company’s existing VB100-cerified antimalware solution, Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud.

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Kaspersky 2021 strengthens VPN and stalkerware protection, updates free Security Cloud solution

Kaspersky’s rollout of its 2021 product line has reached European shores with the release of Kaspersky Internet Security 2021, Kaspersky Total Security 2021, and Kaspersky Security Cloud 2021 Free. The latter is a brand-new entry package into the company’s new cloud-based security product line.

There are several new features of note including major improvements to its 'stalkerware' detection tool in Internet Security and Total Security as well as access to the free version of Kaspersky Password Manager in lower-end packages. Security Cloud users also gain automatic checks of potentially compromised online accounts, while the recently introduced Kaspersky VPN component gains a major UI overhaul and more efficient connection process.

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Vivaldi 3.2 for Android and Chromebook unveils tracker improvements

One week after launching Vivaldi 3.2 for desktop, Vivaldi Technologies has released Vivaldi 3.2 for Android and Chromebooks.

The new Android build adds several improvements to its built-in tracker and ad-blocking tools, plus makes even more use of the bottom of the user interface. It follows on from last week’s desktop release, which improved the browser’s pop-out video feature with the addition of a mute button.

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Parallels Desktop 16 promises to run Windows even faster on your Mac

Corel-subsidiary Parallels International GmbH has launched Parallels Desktop 16.0, the simplest and fastest way of running Windows in a virtual environment on a Mac.

The virtualization software, which can emulate a wide range of operating systems, including Linux and earlier versions of macOS, comes with the promise of over 30 new features, including ever-faster performance and new features, plus has been updated "to take full advantage of the new macOS Big Sur architecture and revamped kernel extensions”, a nod to the upcoming release of macOS 11.0, the biggest macOS update in over a decade.

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Never forget another password with Bitwarden 1.20

The twin dilemma: how to create strong, secure passwords without forgetting them? The solution is obvious: make use of a password manager. They’re common as muck these days, but our favorite by far is the brilliant Bitwarden.

A quick precis of why we love Bitwarden: it has all the features you’d expect in a good password manager -- easy and convenient to use, while locking your sensitive data away in a watertight vault using end-to-end 256-bit AES encryption that ensures it remains private. There’s 2FA support for extra security, and it works across all your devices: desktop, mobile and browser.

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Parallels Access 6.0 unveils Remote Help support, while Parallels Toolbox 4.0 adds five new tools -- including screen-break scheduler

Parallels International GmbH has released two major updates to its roster on the same day. Parallels Access 6.0 is designed to allow users to remotely access PCs and Macs from Apple and Android mobile devices, while Parallels Toolbox 4.0 is an eclectic suite offering over 30 different tools for Windows and Mac users from a single application menu.

Parallels Access 6.0 adds a new Remote Help feature alongside Bluetooth input device support on the latest iPads, as well as adding OneDrive and Google Drive support to the Android app.

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Consolidate all your boot media on to a single flash drive with Ventoy

How many boot discs or flash drives do you own? It’s possible to build up quite a collection, from Linux live CDs and antivirus rescue discs to boot media for apps as diverse as drive imaging to data recovery.

Thanks to Ventoy 1.0.15, you can now consolidate all your boot media: instead of five, six or however many boot discs you need, everything is stored on a single flash drive. The larger the flash drive, the more boot media you can install on it.

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Thunderbird 78 unveils major UI changes, restricts add-ons to MailExtension API only

Mozilla has released Thunderbird 78.0 for Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s the first major update of the popular open-source email client since August 2019, and is only available as a direct download -- existing users of the Thunderbird 68.x series are advised to wait for a future release that will provide an upgrade path.

A host of new and changed features have been implemented, although the long-heralded built-in support for OpenPGP encryption has been disabled by default for now due to some outstanding issues.

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Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 8 promises much-improved 1-click photo fix

German software developer Ashampoo has unveiled Photo Optimizer 8.0, a major new release of its Windows photo-editing tool. The first major update since June 2018, version 8 builds further on the 1-click optimization tool introduced in version 7, plus offers additional manual fine-tuning tools alongside a new perspective correction feature.

Photo Optimizer 8 opens with what Ashampoo admits is a 'significantly improved' 1-click correction tool, designed to detect potential weaknesses in the original photo and provide improvements with no user involvement required. The improved algorithm has undergone two years of development and trial runs, with many thousands of setting combinations tested to help lift photos suffering from dull colors, poor lighting and a lack of contrast.

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Firefox 78 and Firefox 78 ESR unveil new privacy protection features

Mozilla has released Firefox 78.0, the latest in a long line of major updates to the veteran browser. Available for Windows, macOS and Linux, the new release is joined by Firefox ESR 78.0, the first major update of the Extended Support Release browser since Firefox 68 last year.

The release sees the Privacy Protections screen renamed to Protections Dashboard. It also gains two new features: the ability to track the number of resolved breaches directly from the dashboard itself, plus an option to check to see if any saved passwords have been exposed in a data breach. Type about:protections to access the dashboard quickly.

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