Something to always watch for: crapware installers. To make ends meet, many creators of otherwise great free software, or the services that offer the programs for download, bundle in things you don't want. Worse, the installation routine obfuscates the steps, so you provide the unwanted program tacit permission to be installed. For more about how to spot and avoid this problem, see How to Clean Crapware From a New PC, and check out the Uninstaller section of this very free software collection.
One of the most popular synchronization services ever: simply put files in your Dropbox folder on the desktop, they get uploaded to the cloud, and are instantly synchronized with any other PC on the account. Files are also accessible via apps or the Web. If you delete a file by accident, you can use the site to get it back. You get 2GB of free online storage, which you can bolster by sharing on social media and downloading the mobile apps.
Our favorite messaging service takes security seriously—it's Snowden-approved!—using its own open-source protocol to do end-to-end encryption, even on voice calls. It's not as much fun as some of the others, but still supports sending photos and video, plus group messaging. On Android, Signal can completely replace the SMS texting app; on iPhone you need to get other users to download Signal or you can't talk to them.
Proprietary software uses restrictive software licences or EULAs and usually does not provide users with the source code. Users are thus legally or technically prevented from changing the software, and this results on reliance on the publisher to provide updates, help, and support. (See also vendor lock-in and abandonware). Users often may not reverse engineer, modify, or redistribute proprietary software. Beyond copyright law, contracts and lack of source code; there could be additional shenanigans keeping users from exercising freedom over a piece of software, such as software patents and digital rights management (more specifically, tivoization).
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