Best Free Software Programs

What Are the Best Free Software Programs for Your PC?

You will probably be surprised just how many quality programs that are actually available for free download. Here's a large list that covers almost every software program you could ever need.

However, do not go nuts and start installing every single one because too many programs could clog up your machine. Feel free to try out several programs, but you may want to uninstall programs you find that you are not going to use.

Free programs often come with a catch

You can find an incredible number of free programs online, and many are very useful and tempting to download. Unfortunately too many will attempt to install software you simply do not need.

Because these programs are free they typically have additional tools attached usually from other software developers who have paid a fee. Your usually given the option to not install additional programs, but this may not always be possible. Common unwanted software programs are things like browser add-ons, which add several additional add-ons your browser and change your browser homepage URL.

Help to remove "crapware"

It can be time consuming to remove "crapware", ie programs that give you trouble, or install something you do not want, but Google is usually your friend, if you are struggling to remove such nuisance programs. You can use the name of the culprit (the program that gives you trouble) as a keyword, in addition to the word "remove". You will usually not be alone with these problems, and will find tips and tricks on how to remove that crappy program.

PC Decrapifier is a program that can make your a lot job easier, as it can identify and remove "crapware" or "bloatware", ie programs that perform unwanted actions on your computer, such as installing additional software.

Windows optimization

We start our overview of applications that can be use to optimize Windows. These are programs that remove redundant files and programs, and/or can be used to monitor and control processes in Windows.

CCleaner is our favourite, because it's easy to use and can be used to clear away unnecessary files and programs in Windows, in an efficient manner.

Sysinternals Suite is a suite of programs that is also a very good option, but the "problem" is that these programs are not suitable for everyone. The programs in this package are so advanced that they require the user to be fairly computer savvy, before they can be put to proper use.

Other programs for Windows-optimization:

File Manager

The explorer program that is built into Windows has several limitations, making it less convenient than it could be.

Multi Commander is our favourite, but Everything Search is also a good program that can find files very fast.

The following programs are also highly recommended:

Office Software

There are several office suites with applications like word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and so on.

LibreOffice is our favourite. Apache OpenOffice (formerly OpenOffice.org) is also a good option, but we think you should choose LibreOffice, because this package is more open and independent.

Kingsoft Office is also a good option.

Text Applications

Notepad++ is our favourite. The program is in many ways adapted for programming and coding - you can even switch to a programming language via the menu item "Language". The program comes with support for over 50 languages. The name of the selected language appears at the bottom of the application window.

Notepad++ can be customized in several ways via the menu item "Setup". Here you can among other things choose style (different colours for codes), and define hotkeys.

The program also offers the ability to run macros, and has an advanced search function. The program also supports plugins, which gives you possibility of additional tools, if you need this - you will find a list of plugins on sourceforge.net

Video and audio

VLC Media Player is our favourite multimedia player, and Spotify is our favourite program for free music via the internet.

Other multimedia programs that are recommended:

Photo Organization

Picasa is our favourite, but here are a couple of other options:

Image Processing

Artweaver Free offers a surprising number of advanced features and looks a lot like Photoshop. Gimp is also a very good option.

ExifTool is a program for advanced photographers. The program can be used to read, write and manipulate metadata (including Exif information) in pictures.

Opanda IExif is somewhat simpler than ExifTool, but is also a tool to read Exif information.

Other programs:

Browsers

Email

Thunderbird is our favourite, but here are a couple of other options:

Chat and instant messaging

Skype is our favourite as it offers both free video calling and instant messaging. These are some other options:

Burning Software

CDBurnerXP is our favourite. Despite its name, the program supports the latest version of Windows.

Other good burning programs:

Ripping Software

FairStars CD Ripper is our favourite, which does the job's supposed to do, namely to convert audio from a CD to audio files (WAV, MP3 or Ogg Vorbis).

Other ripping programs:

PDF readers

Foxit Reader is our favourite.

Other options:

    Sumatra PDF - for those who want a  simple and fast programme just to read PDF files.

    PDF-XChange Viewer - for those who want many advanced features in a PDF application.

Antivirus

Microsoft Security Essentials is our favourite because it's easy to use and effective against malware. In addition, it is not troublesome for the user - you'll hardly notice that you have it installed. 

Other highly recommended antivirus programs:

Firewalls

Windows has a good built-in firewall, so you do not really need an alternative, but there are still several good free downloads available:

Backing up your files

Windows has a good built-in feature for backup, but here several other options:

Password Management

KeePass is our favourite.

Here are some other options:

Encryption

Encryption software is used to secure your personal files, making it harder for others to read. TrueCrypt is our favourite.

Recovery of deleted files

Have you deleted files accidentally, or for some other reason want a program that can recover files that have been deleted. Here are several options.

Recuva is our favourite.

Other options:

Secure deletion of data

Here you will find programs on can be used to erase data securely:

Miscellaneous

    7-ZIP (compression)
    Evernote (remember everything you want to remember, digitally)
    Core FTP LE (FTP client)
    WinSCP (FTP client)
    EasyBCD (dual boot)
    GParted (partitioning)
    SyncToy (synchronizing files)

Remember to always backup your important files or create a restore point before installing new software.