Essential (Free) PC Software

Not so long ago I purchased a new computer (a laptop PC, to be precise). If the cost of the laptop wasn’t enough, once it had been delivered I then started looking to add all the essential software I needed. Of course, some software can be expensive, but thankfully, there are now many excellent free programs that will do the same, or indeed more, than their paid-for counterparts.

Obviously, your software needs may well be different to mine, but here I’ve tried to highlight the essential free software for your PC.

  1. Firefox – if you haven’t discovered this web browser yet, where have you been? It is more than a match for Internet Explorer, largely because of the numerous add-ons you can get for it to make it do much more than Microsoft’s browser can. And yes, I realise that using Firefox won’t technically save you any money, because Internet Explorer is free too. But as it is such a good browser, and because the web is now one of the major uses for a computer, then it has to be on the list.
  2. Thunderbird – this email client is Firefox’s little brother – made by the same people, Mozilla, it is also easy to customise for managing your email the way you like. Alternatively, there are plenty of good, free, web-based email clients available – GMail is my personal favourite.
  3. OpenOffice – if you’re looking for a free alternative to Microsoft Office, then look no further than OpenOffice. This software will happily replace Word, Excel etc, plus you can still work with files saved in Office, plus savein Office format.
  4. GIMP – the name might sound a bit strange, but this image editing programme has some powerful features to rival the likes of Adobe Photoshop. It might not be as intuitive to use as Photoshop, but dig around and you’ll find it can do all that you probably need to do with your images.
  5. AVG – not the best looking anti-virus software available, but it scans files without too much effort (and without using up too many system resources).
  6. FeedDemon / Newsgator – if you don’t know what RSS is then now’s the time to learn. In a nutshell, it allows you to keep up-to-date with the latest content from your favourite feed-enabled websites. FeedDemon and Newsgator are a desktop / web-based RSS reader (respectively) which allow you to keep all of you RSS subscriptions in sync across many computers.
  7. ZoneAlarm – although Windows comes with it’s own firewall, if you want something a little more advanced, ZoneAlarm Firewall is available as a free download.
  8. Mozy – this little tool securely backs-up your important data to web-based storage, all completed in the background. The free version gives you 2GB of space, if you need more space, you will have to pay.

The great thing about using this software is that you’ve got nothing to lose by trying them out – give it a go, and if you don’t like it, uninstall it.

As I mentioned, this is obviously not an exhaustive list, and there are plenty of other free desktop and web-based apps that can do a multitude of things, but these are probably some of the first you should try if you’re looking to give your computer some basic functionality.

Which free software would you recommend? Have I missed any? Also, if you’re an Apple Mac user, what free software is available for the Mac? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo by ani!

One thought on “Essential (Free) PC Software

  1. These are great resources- I use Mozilla firefox more than internet explorer- it’s far quicker! Open office is extremely handy, too!

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