[RECOMMENDED] Seven Free Software Programs
Here's one common AskBob reader question: “I just got a new computer, and I want to remove all the non-essential programs that came preloaded, and then install the best freeware for everday computing. What do you recommend?” Here are some of my free software recommendations for your computer. Read on!
The Best Free Software
It's true... when you get a new computer, it usually comes loaded with a bunch of software you don't want or need. Most of them are free trials or crippled versions, designed to persuade you to upgrade to a paid version. In my article How to Clean Computer Clutter, you'll find some tips for cleaning out this computer clogging "crapware" and reclaiming that space on your hard drive.
As to your second question, I'm happy to talk about freeware. There are thousands of free programs available online. But there are only a handful that I consider essential, and I download them to every new computer. From security to web browsing, to graphics, productivity, and troubleshooting, here are seven of the most popular and useful free downloads.
Google Chrome: the world's most widely used Web browser, with a commanding lead over Microsoft's Edge and Mozilla Firefox. Unlike some of its competitors, Chrome is available for multiple operating systems, including macOS, Linux and mobile versions for iPhone/Android devices. Other competitors include the Apple Safari and Opera browsers. Chrome's main selling features are speed, and a wide selection of free add-ons and extensions.
NoteTab is a text and HTML editor for Windows. At its most basic, NoteTab makes a good upgrade from the Windows NotePad text editor. But NoteTab can also handle complex Web projects with its ability to create templates, extensive formatting features, exhaustive search/replace, and vast capacity for multiple large files. NoteTab also competes with third-party editors such as UltraEdit, Notepad++, and TextPad. NoteTab comes in three versions. The Lite version is free, even for commercial use. The Standard and Pro versions add additional features and must be purchased after a 30-day trial. The Standard/Pro bundle is $39.95.
LibreOffice is the free, open source alternative to Microsoft Office. LibreOffice has just about everything you'd ever need in a productivity suite: word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, HTML and XML document support. It can open, create and save files in Microsoft Office formats as well as PDF and others. LibreOffice is an amazingly sophisticated piece of software, and it's hard to believe that it's totally free!
IrfanView is a freeware multimedia viewer and editing program. With this utility you can view, convert, optimize, scan and print virtually any kind of graphic image. You can crop, resize and edit photos, create slideshows, play movies, and much more. Legions of fans around the world have developed plugins for IrFanView, making it almost infinitely extensible.
Avast Free Antivirus is one of the most popular free antivirus solutions. It includes a fast antivirus scanning engine; real-time protection for email attachments; technology to vet websites before you visit them; and much more. In early 2021, NortonLifelock bought Avira, a competing antivirus program. Months later, Norton purchased Avast, which had bought AVG in 2016. Bottom line, Avast, Avira, and AVG are all owned by Norton, and the future of these three popular tools (and whether they will remain free) is unclear.
I still use Avast for occasional malware scans, but my preferred internet security tool for the past few years has been PC Matic. (See PC Matic 4.0 – My Review) It does cost $50 a year for up to five computers, but I believe the whitelist approach it uses provides superior protection from malware, including zero-day exploits, rootkits, cryptominers, keyloggers, fileless script attacks, and ransomware.
BitWarden is a popular password manager. It helps you securely manage unlimited passwords, and offers cross platform access for mobile, browser, and desktop apps. It will generate strong passwords for your online accounts, and autofill so you don't have to remember them. BitWarden competes with products such as RoboForm, Dashlane, and KeePass. (Previously I've written about LastPass, but after news of a damaging breach in 2022, I no longer recommend that software.)
Advanced System Care Free is one of the best system cleanup and optimization suites available. It keeps your PC running lean, mean, and fast. This program defragments your hard drive, cleans the registry, finds and eliminates spyware, plugs security holes in system settings, fixes broken shortcuts, deletes junk files, and erases browser tracks.
I can recommend all of these programs without reservation. But it's by no means an exhaustive list of the best freeware. I'll follow up soon with another batch of freebies you may want to try. I welcome your comments and suggestions on this topic...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 6 Jul 2023
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- [RECOMMENDED] Seven Free Software Programs (Posted: 6 Jul 2023)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved