10 great technologies to secretly install on Mom's PC

Mom kept you safe and happy when you were a kid, and now you can do the same for her—or at least for her PC.

Mom's one smart lady

She's your mom. She's risen to every challenge, not the least of which was raising you to be the fine, upstanding PC enthusiast you are today.

Yet despite all of Mom's successes, you're still the go-to techie in the family. With Mother's Day just around the corner, it's your turn to streamline her desktop, protect her precious data, and put a smile on her face. Just install these apps and gadgets on Mom's computer, and surprise her with a much better PC experience on Sunday morning.

Norton Internet Security 2013

Mom always told you, "Safety first!" Norton Internet Security 2013 performed well on our antivirus tests, delivering solid all-around protection.

NIS 2013's reassuring, polished interface has nice big buttons. Set it to update and scan automatically so she can relax.

Norton Internet Security 2013 |$70 (30-day free trial)

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free

When Mom clicks to download, she may end up with more than snaps of baby animals. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is aces at finding zero-day exploits and helping to eliminate them.

This shouldn't be Mom's only antimalware program, and it shouldn't be running all the time...but when she needs it, she needs it.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free | Free

Soluto Lite

Originally a troubleshooter and startup manager, Soluto is now a remote IT service. You can use it on her PC alone, or install it on yours first so you can remotely perform Mom's Windows updates, install apps, and check for problems.

All this without seeing your fourth-grade class photo on her desktop.

Soluto Lite | Free

CrashPlan Free

CrashPlan Free can back up Mom's PC automatically once a day to an offsite PC...such as yours.

Set it up and then take her to brunch while it goes to work. If anything happens to her PC later, she can restore from your encrypted backup.

CrashPlan Free | Free

Epson PictureMate Show PM 300

Mom likes online snapshots fine, but it doesn't feel real unless she can hold the prints. Now's the time to give her an Epson PictureMate Show photo printer.

She can print 4-by-6 photos to her heart's content and still enjoy modern touches like an integrated digital frame for displaying slideshows.

Epson PictureMate Show PM 300 | $300

Brother NW-1000 webcam

Say "1080p webcam with dual microphone," and you can count on Mom's eyes glazing over.

Say it while she's using the Brother NW-1000, and you can watch her eyes glaze over. High-definition, baby. (Does she still call you "baby"?)

Brother NW-1000 Webcam | $99

Google Hangouts

If you're all on Google+, you can have family video chats with as many people as you can crowd around nine webcams. The new Remote Desktops feature can help if you need to troubleshoot her PC from afar, too.

Google Hangouts | Free


Maybe Mom prefers to pretend that Google is still just a search engine. Skype works for both phone and video calls. Whether you use the standard version or the special one for Windows 8, you can't beat its simplicity. It's free to call other Skype accounts, and inexpensive to call non-Skypers.

Skype | Skype for Windows 8 | Free


Mom doesn't need to store files of paper receipts. With the NeatReceipts scanner, she can scan receipts and then export them to Excel, Quicken, or Turbo Tax. Quite a boon for someone who remembers balancing her checking account with pencil and paper.

NeatReceipts | $150

Bejeweled 3 and Bookworm Adventures 2

Mom's gaming experience is not hampered by a slow graphics card. PopCap Games has shifted toward developing for mobile and social gamers, but you can still purchase the good old PC versions of Bejeweled 3 and word game Bookworm Adventures Volume 2 to play on older PCs.

Bejeweled 3 | Bookworm Adventures | $20 each (one-hour free trial)


Suppose that Mom got a Windows 8 PC as a holiday gift from some well-meaning, well-off, but less-well-versed-in-tech-than-you offspring. She's probably been politely hating its lack of a Start button since December.

Put the button back with Stardock's Start8. Who's her favorite now?

Start8 | $5 (30-day free trial)

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