Seven Free Software Downloads

Category: Software

A reader asks: 'I just got a new laptop, and I want to do two things. First is to remove all the non-essential programs that came preloaded. Next, I want to load the best freeware for everday computing. I'd love to know what free software you recommend and use on your own computer.'

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 get you to upgrade to a paid version. In my article How to Clean Up Your Hard Drive, 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 Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. Unlike its Microsoft competitor, Chrome is available for multiple operating systems, including a mobile version for 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.

Top Freeware

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, Crimson Editor, and EditPlus. 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 version costs $19.95 while Pro is $29.95.

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. Other popular free antivirus programs include Avira and AVG Free. (Am I the only one who finds it annoying when websites and software insist on adding exclamation points to their names?) See my article Why I Switched from AVG to Avast Antivirus for more about the advanced features of Avast!

The free edition of MalwareBytes Anti-Malware (also known as MBAM) is a virus and spyware infection scanner and cleanup tool, while the Pro version proactively guards against and blocks malware before it can infection your machine. MBAM works across multiple drives, including networked drives. Like AVG, MBAM competes against a great many security utilities including Microsoft Security Essentials, Spybot S&D, and ComboFix. I recommend the free "scan on demand" version as an adjunct to your antivirus protection.

LastPass is a cloud-based password manager. First you install LastPass on your machine, then you create an account on the cloud server. LastPass syncs all of your passwords in its heavily fortified, encrypted database. Optionally, LastPass will delete all the locally stored passwords on your hard drive so no malware can steal them. Now you can log in to any site with just one click, or even have LastPass log in for you. LastPass versions are available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. LastPass competes with products such as RoboForm, KeePass, and MandyLion Password Manager.

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. See Part Two for seven MORE must-have software downloads. I welcome your comments and suggestions on this topic...

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Most recent comments on "Seven Free Software Downloads"

(See all 32 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

D V N Sarma
26 Nov 2011

But pcdecrapifier is not one of the seven that you have listed!

Posted by:

Sidney Jones
26 Nov 2011

I downloaded the Advance System Care and my Windows live email wouldn't open after I downloaded it and neither would IE Explorer, I had to do a SYSTEM RESTORE, to get everything back to working.

Posted by:

Paul Kruijer
26 Nov 2011

I am amazed that you do not include PC Matic from PC Pitstop to do all the things Advanced system Care free does. I know it is not free, but it does do an excellent job. Also you did not mention the free CCleaner, which I use every time, before turning off my Computer.

Posted by:

Mike Mc
26 Nov 2011

Bob.. I hope you have looked at Abiword lately.. The writer has kept up with, and is compatible to all of Microsoft's odd changes like the new docx format. It is free and a great word processor if that is what you think a laptop is for. to e.rider. I have loaded advance system care on everything and it has always been free. (the basic version) Some of the utilities spun in with it like the smart defragger are not always the best. Sorry, Malware Bytes is not always the best choice since confliker or the "fake antivirus" infections (and other virus') learn how to disable it. Avast AV has done a lot on the malware fight for an all around good AV.

Posted by:

26 Nov 2011

Your line....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 get you to upgrade to a paid version
Well, the FIRST thing to do is DUMP the Operating system and install Ubuntu
I've got a PB that's 5 years old and was going to buy a new one next year (2012) which would have cost me £1,200.00 INCLUDING WINDOWS 7. I found Ubuntu and it's given my PC a NEW LEASE OF LIFE. It's MUCH faster now that it EVER was under Windows and EXTENDED it's life by probably MORE than ANOTHER 5 YEARS

Posted by:

Bob Pegram
26 Nov 2011

I recommend (and install) Advanced System Care Free for my clients because it works well, is free, and is VERY easy to use. With most clients, ease and simplicity of use is important.


Posted by:

26 Nov 2011

Everyone seems to have their favorite media player, but for me, Media Player Classic (MPC) w/the K-Lite Mega Codec Pack (;1)easily beats GOM, VLC & of course WMP.

I'll give IrfanView a try, even though I don't do much editing.

Looking forward to your next list.

Posted by:

Big Frank
27 Nov 2011

Howzabout: 7zip, Glary Utilities & Smart Defrag 2 ??

Posted by:

27 Nov 2011

I use draftsight in drawing. it is very usful and convience

Posted by:

28 Nov 2011

I am wondering about using multiple programs. If I'm running the Microsoft Security Essentials. Do/should I run other security software at the same time? Are there conflicts/problems/advantages/disadvantages with running more than one at a time? Thanks.

Posted by:

28 Nov 2011

Notepad++ ( a free, powerful, and easy-to-use replacement for Notepad. It supports a myriad of programming languages, with auto-indenting, highlighting, etc.

Try it; you'll like it!

Posted by:

Tom Van Dam
28 Nov 2011

I use NotePad++ because of its flexibility and it stores all the notes under one location for retrieval. I always install Irfanview on every machine. It loads so much faster than the defaults and is very versatile. I also use Defraggler and Ccleaner on every machine. I'm not a mozilla fan but I do use Foxit to replace adobe for viewing. It is fast and very lightweight.

I'm a little confused by your recommendation of Advanced System Care Free. In previous articles you have stated that there wasn't much benefit to using Registry utilities, yet this program has one.

Posted by:

28 Nov 2011

If you want a full suite of free programs that still work well with Microsoft products, Open Office is not bad either. The latest version does a pretty good job and emulates Word/Excel/PP pretty well. Our school district has used them for the last 4 years.

Posted by:

D.W. Whitlock
29 Nov 2011

Just wanted to share my fave freebies: FIREFOX or CHROME. Both excellent...whichever one you like best. LIBRE OFFICE; Does more and does it better than Open Office...which is no longer supported. Those folks now support and update Libre Office. AVAST 6 or AVIRA 12; Both have better blocking, detection and cleaning abilities than AVG according to AV-Comparatives. THREATFIRE; Excellent adjunct to your main AV security apps (See Bob's review). CCLEANER; Still the best. MALWAREBYTES; Show me a malware remover that works better. SUPERANTISPYWARE; Excellent spyware detector/remover. FOXIT PDF READER; Small footprint, works great, displays fast and does not provide a big hole for malware entry like the Adobe Reader. REVO UNINSTALLER; Leaves very few file and registry scraps behind. The best uninstaller. AGENT RANSACK; Great little app that will find all of the files in a search...unlike Windows' file search. AUTORUNS; Superb untility that shows every single process that runs on your PC. Allows you to disable or delete each process. Still the best. VLC PLAYER; Plays everything. You can set it to play stuff that needs Quicktime so you can get rid of Quicktime. ERUNT; Backs up Entire Registry...not just part of it like Windows does. EUSING REGISTRY CLEANER; Finds all the entries that need to be removed yet will not harm your PC. Show me a cleaner that cleans better and is safe to use. AUSLOGICS DISK DEFRAG; I feel its the best all around defrag and file optimizer. It just kills the Win 7 built in defrag. All of the apps I've mentioned are free. I welcome your comments. I'm always open to better free programs.

Posted by:

30 Nov 2011

Hi, Bob. Do you have some good sugestions of free apps for Mac OS X?

Posted by:

Kat Markle
03 Dec 2011

Hey Bob!
I LOVEEEEE Jarte! It is an editor with all anyone needs right in it. I have tried many, many things online in my 12 or so years online, in business, blogs, article writing, etc...everything you have ever talked about I had need for, I have tried and you are right on every time. Did you recommend Jarte? I do not remember... I also love the Super Anti-spyware that is free. I use it, Malware Bytes, and AVG...and CCleaner, which is also free. I used to pay big bucks for anti virus and other protection. Not anymore, no way! There are too many awesome programs out there!
I have read ya for years and you always help me. Your site and newsletter are very helpful in every way. Thanks so much Bob!!

Posted by:

21 Dec 2011

I would not recommend any program from Iobit (Advanced SystemCare) due to Iobit stealing from Malwarebytes' database (Iobit Security 360)from 2009.

Posted by:

23 Dec 2011

Hello, I use: Imagburn for burn everything, Cccleaner, RevoUninstaller, Comodo Internet Security Premium, Comodo Dragon browser, ( Ff 9 it's second ),Auslogic Disc Defragmenter, DiscWizard setup for backup, Aimp2 for music VLC, Kmplayer for movie and Bsplayer free also for movie and find subtitles. All free.

Posted by:

Jacobus de jesus
09 Jun 2012

How can i downloud these photo shop to my computer?

Posted by:

31 Jan 2020

I highly recommend Revo Uninstaller free version. Been using it for many years.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Seven Free Software Downloads (Posted: 25 Nov 2013)
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