The Best Business Tools

November 1, 2011 by Christiane Stagge

Not all functions can be covered by a company’s ERP system or office program. In certain situations, you need special business tools. These specific programs enable videos to be played, serve as online hard drives, or help encrypt important corporate data. But business tools aren’t just for those people who work in an office. Employees who often go on on business trips can enhance their standard software optimally with these mini programs.

Read on to find out more about:

VLC media player plays almost all multimedia files (screenshot: VideoLAN). (Screenshot: Videolan)

VLC media player plays almost all multimedia files (screenshot: VideoLAN). (Screenshot: Videolan)

VLC media player

When you buy a PC or a notebook, a media player of some kind is usually included as standard. But that’s no reason not to install VLC media player. It recognizes almost all audio and video formats, such as AAC, AC3, ASF, AVI, DTS, FLAC, FLV, MIDI, MKV, MOV, MPG, ES, MP3, MP4, PS, PVA, TS, MXF, OGG, OGM, RAM, RM, RMVB, RV, WAV, WMA, WMV, and 3GP. If the audio or video file is located in a zip file, you don’t need to unzip it. If a video comprises several files, the player also detects this and creates playlists. This means you can watch the video without any interruptions.

Media library and snchronization program: iTunes. (Screenshot: Apple)

Media library and snchronization program: iTunes. (Screenshot: Apple)

iTunes

If you have an iPhone, iPod, or iPad, iTunes is indispensable. Without an iTunes account, you can’t activate the device or download music or videos. But iTunes is more than synchronization software; it is also a media player. You can use it to create playlists and record CDs. iTunes is available as a 32-bit and a 64-bit version. It supports the file formats AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless, MIDI, MP3, TCA, and WAV.

With Nero Multimedia Suite 10, you can record CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays, as well as edit videos. (screenshot: Nero)

With Nero Multimedia Suite 10, you can record CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays, as well as edit videos. (screenshot: Nero)

Nero Multimedia Suite

With Nero Burning ROM, you can record CDs. With Nero Multimedia Suite, you get additional functions for security and video editing. The Suite enables you to record CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. The software costs U.S.$79.99 and runs on both Windows XP and Windows 7. If you’d like to try out Nero Multimedia Suite 10 before you buy it, a free test version is available for 15 days.

Paint.NET offers all the key functions of a picture editing program (screenshot: Paint.NET)gramms. (Screenshot: Paint.net)

Paint.NET offers all the key functions of a picture editing program (screenshot: Paint.NET)gramms. (Screenshot: Paint.net)

TrueCrypt

With this free software, you can encrypt files or systems. TrueCrypt helps secure directories, USB sticks, hard drives, and partitions. The program creates virtual drives that are encrypted with 128-bit, 256-bit, or 448-bit keys. Users can only access the drives once they have entered the assigned password.

FastStone Capture

This free program is vital if you create screenshots or want to capture individual parts of a screen. After capturing the image itself, you have the option of adding descriptions or highlighting. Then you can save your pictures as JPEG, JPEG2000, PNG, GIF, TIF, or TGA. FastStone Capture runs on Windows 98 up to Windows 7.

Paint.NET

Adobe Photoshop CS5 is a must for people who want to edit pictures professionally. But if you just want to rescale and reformat pictures now and then, the freeware product Paint.NET is really all you need. It supports and uses layers, similar to Photoshop.

The virtual hard drive: Dropbox enables you to access important data while you’re out of the office (screenshot: Dropbox)

The virtual hard drive: Dropbox enables you to access important data while you’re out of the office (screenshot: Dropbox)

Dropbox

Dropbox is like an online hard drive: With it, you can store up to 2 GB of data in a cloud for free. You get an account that only you can access. If you want to make folders accessible to other people, you can send them an e-mail invitation. Just like with a physical server, you can monitor in real time any changes that a business partner or colleague makes to a file.

If necessary, you can increase the capacity of your Dropbox to 50 GB or 100 GB, for which there is a fee.

Dropbox is particularly handy if you’re on the road. You can access your data from it using practically any device – such as iPhone, iPad, or Android smartphone. Folders are synchronized automatically. To take additional security steps, you can also encrypt them with TrueCrypt. To do this, you create special containers, define their size, and opt for an encryption method. Then you create the encrypted container in the Dropbox’s sync file.

TweetDeck: an overview of all Twitter accounts (Screenshot: TweetDeck)

TweetDeck: an overview of all Twitter accounts (Screenshot: TweetDeck)

TweetDeck and HootSuite

For companies that use social media such as Facebook and Twitter, special monitoring and administration tools are essential. For such purposes, you can deploy TweetDeck or HootSuite. With these programs, you can monitor several Twitter accounts at the same time and hook them up with social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, foursquare, and Myspace. You can also upload pictures and videos. TweetDeck is free-of-charge. If you want to benefit from all of HootSuite’s features – including extensive tracking functions and statistics – you pay around U.S.$6 a month.

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